Smoking Relapse

How to Quit Smoking

Congratulations! Deciding to quit smoking is a step in the right direction. It can be hard, but most NYC smokers have already quit. You can too! By preparing yourself, you will be more likely to quit for good. The following eight steps can help make quitting easier.

Step 1: Decide why you want to quit

Knowing why you want to quit will keep you on track. Many people want to quit for their health and to save money (PDF) Other languages: | Español | 中文 | 简化字 | Русский | বাংলা | Français | ײִדיש | 한국어 | العربية | Kreyòl ayisyen | Italiano | Polski | اردو. Quitting smoking will also protect your family from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke (PDF).

Which of these reasons for quitting apply to you?

  • I want to be free of addiction.
  • I will be able to breathe easier.
  • I want to be in good health.
  • I want to be there for my family and friends long-term.
  • I will be less likely to get lung cancer, emphysema and other health problems.
  • I want to protect my family from secondhand smoke.
  • I want to set a good example for my children.
  • I want to have a healthy baby.
  • I want to save money.
  • My food will taste better.
  • My clothes will smell better.

Review your reasons to stay motivated. Quitting is hard, but it does get easier the longer you stay smoke-free. You can do it!

Step 2: Get support and encouragement

Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you are quitting. Ask for their support.

Here are some resources to help you quit:

  • Think about using quit-smoking medications, like the nicotine patch or gum. They can reduce your cravings and double your chance of quitting successfully.
  • Call (866) NY-QUITS (866-697-8487) or visit the NYS Smokers' Quitline to apply for a free starter kit of quit-smoking medications. Coaching also available; call today to talk to a quit coach.
  • Get the NYC HelpMeQuit app. This free resource helps you track your progress, provides a support network of other quitters and offers tips on how to outlast cravings. Download the app for Android or iOS.
  • Quit with a friend or talk to someone who has already quit.
  • Find a quit-smoking program that works for you:
  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Visit our NYC Quits Smoking Facebook page to read inspirational stories and connect with other quitters who understand what you are going through.

Step 3: Prepare to quit

  • Rid your home and car of ashtrays and lighters. Throw out all cigarettes.
  • Make things clean and fresh at home and in your car. Clean your drapes and wash your clothes so they don't smell like smoke. Adopt a smoke-free home (PDF).
  • Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you plan to quit and ask for their support along the way.
  • Does someone around you smoke? Ask them to quit with you, or at least not to smoke around you.
  • Decide on a plan. If you will be using any quit-smoking medications, make sure all your prescriptions are filled. Sign up for a smoking cessation class and/or support group (PDF).

Step 4: Pick a quit date

  • Choose a quit date carefully. Select a day when your routine will be as close to normal as possible (i.e.: no vacations, major work deadlines or major life events such as weddings, moving, etc.)
  • Circle the date on your calendar and alert friends, family and co-workers.
  • Connect with other quitters on our NYC Quits Smoking — I Quit Because Facebook page. Sharing your thoughts and frustrations while preparing to quit and quitting can help ease your mind.

Step 5: Identify and learn how to deal with smoking triggers 

Learn how to cope with triggers (PDF). Use this information to develop a plan to stay smoke-free.
It’s important to remember that smoking is both a habit and an addiction. There are many times when you tell yourself you’re going to have a cigarette, but often, the smoking you do is just out of habit.

Many common activities or events can trigger the urge to smoke. They can be moods, feelings, places, or things you do. Knowing how to identify and cope with these triggers can help you stay in control. Read this list (PDF) to help you in a time of need.

Step 6: Be ready to cope with cravings

Understand the triggers (PDF) that make you want to smoke. Use this information to develop a plan to stay smoke-free.

  • Remember, the urge to smoke usually lasts three to five minutes. Be ready to combat your cravings (PDF).
  • Change your routine. Change the people, places and things that make you want
    to smoke.
  • Change your habits. If you miss having a cigarette in your hand; try a pencil, paper clip or a stress ball. If you miss having something in your mouth; try a toothpick, hard candy or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Have a healthy snack. Drink a lot of water (PDF). Visit your local farmers market to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Text "SoGood" to 877877 to find a location near you. 
  • Don't convince yourself that all you need is one more cigarette - and then you'll quit. Having even one can make you start up again.
  • Exercise (PDF) to get rid of stress and improve your mood and health. A brisk walk often helps you feel better and takes your mind off smoking.
  • Talk to a friend or family member when you need support.
  • Keep yourself busy with something you'll enjoy. Find a new hobby (PDF).
  • Go someplace where smoking is not allowed. See a movie or meet a friend at a restaurant.

Step 7: Reward yourself

Quitting smoking can be very hard, but it can be done. Reward yourself along the way to stay motivated.

  • Acknowledge your success. Count each day you are smoke-free.
  • In the past you may have celebrated with cigarettes. Find new rewards that will make you happy. 
  • Living smoke-free will save you money (PDF). Set it aside and use it to reward yourself.
  • Rewards can be big or small. You can: see a movie, enjoy a special treat or buy a new gadget. 
  • Make a plan to reward yourself at certain points during your quit. This can help you stay focused.

Step 8: Connect with others and get tips to stay smoke-free

Quitting smoking is hard. Staying smoke-free is even harder. Connect with people and seek support to make it easier. 

  • Use social media to announce your efforts and progress so your friends can congratulate you and cheer you on! Connect with other quitters on our NYC Quits Facebook page.
  • Chat with friends online — if you're typing, you can't smoke!
  • Quit with a friend! Find someone who is just as eager to quit as you are, and quit together. You will give each other strength, and the friendly competition doesn't hurt! Quitting is easier when quitters support each other (PDF).
  • Get family support. Instead of smoking, call a family member or friend.
  • Spend time with people you like who don't smoke.

Other tips to stay smoke-free:


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