Quit Smoking Your Way

Quit Your Way

How you quit may depend on whether you’ve tried to quit before and what you learned from that experience.

Quit your way

Everyone has a different quitting journey. What works for one person may not work for you. And while some people may find quitting smoking relatively easy, for others, it is a struggle that may take many attempts.

The good news is that there is always something different to try. Every quit attempt you make will give you skills and knowledge that you can take into your next, possibly successful, quit attempt.

Below are a variety of methods you can try. You may have tried some of them before, but others might be new to you.

Cold turkey

Quitting smoking ‘cold turkey’ means stopping smoking abruptly without any help from quit smoking aids such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), quit smoking medication or professional support.

Most people who quit smoking, do so ‘cold turkey’. While this approach has a much lower success rate than using NRT, quitting medications and counselling support, lots of people try this strategy. Therefore, a lot of people have success using this approach. The key to quitting ‘cold turkey’, though, is having strong willpower and self-belief.

Willpower or mental strength is an important part of the quitting journey. When applied to quitting smoking, willpower is the ability to talk yourself out of smoking and convince yourself to stay a non-smoker, especially when faced with a craving.

If you are thinking about quitting smoking ‘cold turkey’, try to be prepared and have strategies in place.

When you are quitting cold turkey, having distractions at hand is key to get through cravings and feelings of withdrawal. Here are some ideas that have worked for other people:

  • Do some exercise. This can be anything from yoga, to a gentle stroll, to lap swimming, to a competitive team sport.
  • Phone a friend or family member.
  • Take up meditation or mindfulness activities. There are plenty of online guided meditations you can try out.
  • Take a long, luxurious bath. Bubbles and candles are optional!
  • Try out a new recipe and enjoy being able to smell and taste some delicious food.
  • Keep your hands busy with a straw, a stress ball or by playing with a coin.
  • Go for a scenic drive.
  • Do some drawing or colouring in.
  • Spend time with your pets. Even watching fish swimming in an aquarium can reduce stress.
  • Escape from the present with a movie, book or podcast.
  • Have a picnic and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Go for a bike ride somewhere away from traffic and fumes.
  • Work on your car.
  • Head to the cinema to see that movie you have been meaning to watch.
  • Catch up with a friend at a café or restaurant and have a long lunch.
  • Play with the kids in the backyard.
  • Work on good sleeping habits.
  • Practise deep breathing.
  • Try out the ‘Distract me’ tool

Cutting down

Stopping smoking suddenly may feel overwhelming and simply too hard – especially if you are a very heavy smoker.  So you may want to try cutting down the number of cigarettes you smoke first.

Cutting down and sticking to it can be hard. The temptation to just have another cigarette might be too strong and there is the risk of falling back on old habits.

Here are some strategies to help you gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke and stick to your limit:

  • Smoke five fewer cigarettes each day until you aren’t smoking at all. Count out the number of cigarettes you are allowed for each day and don’t smoke more than your allowance.
  • Delay your first cigarette of the day by an hour each day.
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products like patches and/or oral forms of NRT such as gum or lozenges. These products give you some of the nicotine you would normally get from cigarettes to help your handle cravings. Another approach is to replace some of your cigarettes with oral NRT such as gum or a lozenge and keep increasing the number of cigarettes you replace with NRT until you are not smoking at all.

My QuitBuddy

My QuitBuddy is a personalised app to help you quit smoking your way. You can use the app both if you are ready to quit smoking right now or if you are planning to quit soon.

You can program My QuitBuddy so it alerts you at danger times when you know a craving might strike. At these times, it sends a reminder of why you chose to quit, offers games to distract you or can even connect you to the Quitline.

You can connect with other people who are quitting smoking via the My QuitBuddy app. Once you have registered, you can read helpful messages from other people and leave your own messages for others to read. There is also a feature where you can nominate friends or family to phone you when things are getting rough.

Telephone support – Quitline 13 78 48

Quitline is a confidential telephone advice and information service for people who want to quit smoking or want to remain quit. A trained counsellor can help you to make a quitting plan and develop strategies to quit smoking and stay smoke free.

Quitline can help you in a number of different ways, including if you:

  • are thinking about quitting
  • are ready to quit
  • want to stay quit.

You can call Quitline on 13 78 48, visit quitlinesa.org.au to request a call back or, for a web chat with a Quitline counsellor, click on ‘Chat online’ on the bottom right-hand-side of the screen.

Using medications to quit smoking

There are two types of medically-approved aids to quitting in Australia:

  • nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
  • prescription quit smoking medications:
    • Champix (varenicline)
    • Zyban (bupropion).

You may be eligible for a discount through the Australian Government, by getting a prescription from your doctor. It is beneficial to discuss your options with your doctor or the Quitline on 13 78 48.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is the name for a range of pharmaceutical products that contain a small amount of nicotine and help people stop smoking.

NRT products include:

  • patches that attach to the skin
  • chewing gum
  • mouth lozenges
  • mouth spray
  • inhalator that has a vapour that is inhaled.

These products help smokers quit by replacing some of the nicotine they normally get from their cigarettes, easing some of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and irritability.

There are two different forms of NRT that release nicotine at different rates:

  1. Slow, sustained release (patches).
  2. Faster acting (gum, lozenges, spray, inhalator).

You can either buy NRT over-the-counter without a prescription, or you may be eligible for a discount through the Australian Government, by getting a prescription from your doctor. It is beneficial to discuss your options with your doctor or the Quitline on 13 78 48.

Prescription medications designed to stop smoking

In Australia, there are two non-addictive prescribed medications available that are designed to help people quit smoking:

  • Champix® (brand name for Varenicline tartrate)
  • Zyban® (brand name for bupropion)

These medications can help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating and insomnia.

You may be eligible for a discount through the Australian Government, by getting a prescription from your doctor. It is beneficial to discuss your options with your doctor or the Quitline on 13 78 48.


Champix (also known as varenicline) reduces cravings and the negative effects of nicotine withdrawal. It works by blocking the effects of nicotine in the body. People using Champix often find they enjoy smoking a cigarette less and that they don’t like the taste of cigarettes.


Zyban (also known as bupropion) affects areas of the brain that influence nicotine withdrawal. Using Zyban can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, difficulty concentrating and irritability. Zyban may also make smoking less satisfying.

Help with cost of medication

Nicotine patches, Champix and Zyban are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) if you get a script from your doctor. This will potentially make these products more affordable to buy. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you.

Support from your doctor or health professional

Often people decide to quit smoking after it is recommended by their doctor for their health. Talk to your doctor or health professional about how smoking is affecting your health and how they can support you to quit.

Support from family and friends

Family and friends can be great support when you are quitting smoking. Let them know you are quitting smoking and ask them to support you, particularly when things get tough.

Support services for Aboriginal people

If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can choose to speak with one of Quitline’s Aboriginal counsellors – 13 78 48.

You can also visit giveupsmokes.com.au – a campaign supporting Aboriginal people in South Australia to quit smoking and become healthier through simple actions like having smoke-free homes and cars.

Aboriginal community controlled primary health services and Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Primary Health Care Service also provide quit smoking support services.

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