How to Start Quitting Smoking

Improve your chances

Four ways to ease into quitting smoking

Improve your chances

Not quite ready to quit smoking, but want to have a crack at it at some point?

Here are four things to think about that will improve your chances of quitting when you are ready.

1. Identify your triggers

Everyday habits and feelings can trigger your smoking. Knowing what these are and thinking about how you might replace these smoking habits is going to be a big help. For example, are your triggers when you are driving, out socialising, in the morning, after meals?

Changing your daily routine can help reduce the urge to smoke.

Think about how you might replace your smoking habits. Maybe take a shower instead of lighting up a cigarette when you first get up in the morning, or play a game on your phone in your lunch break instead of heading outside with others who smoke. Download the My QuitBuddy app for distractions and games.

Look at your triggers as five-minute windows to be aware of. Think about how you will replace them. Brush your teeth, grab a glass of water, or go for a walk.

Did you know that most nicotine cravings only last a few minutes, and cravings are gone within two to four weeks of quitting smoking?

2. Think about a quit date

Pick a date to quit smoking and mark it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. This will give you a focus and you can use the time before the start date to get ready.

The night before quitting:

  • remove all ashtrays and lighters and get rid of your smokes
  • have something ready to snack on and water to sip on for the next day.

When you get the urge to smoke, remember: cravings don’t last.

Consider easing into quitting smoking. If you haven’t tried to quit smoking recently, you might set yourself some smaller goals before your quit date, to see how you would go before you quit. You could:

  • try quitting for only one day
  • experiment by not smoking at times when you normally would, such as when you’re out with friends or having a break with other smokers at work.

Talk to your GP about options for helping you quit, such as patches or certain medications, and how these can help ease the stress.

3. Know that cravings don’t last long

You can expect to have cravings in the first few weeks of quitting, but being prepared and understanding them is key to managing them. And the good news is they only last a few minutes, so think of them as a five-minute window to distract yourself. When a craving hits, you could try something like drinking water, calling a friend, chewing gum or having a healthy snack. Remember the craving won’t last long.

If you are worried about cravings, you can get help with nicotine withdrawal over the first few weeks with patches, mouth spray, gum, lozenges or an inhaler. Patches can be cheaper by prescription than over the counter. You can also use prescribed medications – talk to your GP or pharmacist.

Research shows using quitting medication or nicotine replacement products, together with a form of coaching like the Quitline is the most effective way to quit.

4. Plan for risky situations

Drinks, parties, socialising – these are great fun, but in the first few weeks after quitting smoking these can be a challenge if this is when you are more likely to smoke. So you might want to avoid some of these activities in the first few weeks when you quit.

Focus on your key reasons for quitting such as health, money, family or friends. Remind yourself of these, and remember, even if you are using nicotine replacement products or medication, these are cheaper than smoking. Think of the money you are paying yourself!

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