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Planning to quit smoking

Tobacco smoking reduces your life expectancy and your quality of life. Quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult yet beneficial things you can do. Deciding to quit smoking is the first big step. Research shows that more than 75% of smokers have made at least one attempt to quit smoking. Finding your own strategy for quitting is important, and there is a range of support available to give you the best chance of succeeding.

Quitting is an individual process and it is important to look at all components of your addiction – physical, behavioural and psychological. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches or gum or other medications may help people with a moderate to high nicotine dependence to deal with the physical cravings. However, this is most successful when combined with replacing smoking with new positive habits or rituals that will give similar good feelings to that of smoking.

Tips for successful quitting

Identify your reasons to quit, create your quitting plan and put your plan into action.

Smokers who plan before they quit are more successful than those who don't, and planning can be done quickly. 

Have a quit plan

As everyone is different, it is important that a quit plan is developed which meets your needs. A smoker's quit plan can help you to:

  • set a realistic quit date and stick to it
  • identify why and where you smoke and what triggers you to want to smoke
  • consider the use of pharmacotherapy such as patches and gum or other medications
  • develop coping strategies for trigger situations
  • create a list of reasons for quitting and displaying these in prominent positions such as the fridge or in the car
  • find a 'Quit Buddy' to encourage and support each other
  • tell everyone you are quitting - you are going to need their support
  • check your house, car, workplace etc. and throw out cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays the day before quit day
  • set step-by-step goals and rewards for not smoking.

Use a mix of methods

Find the combination of strategies that best fit your situation.

NRT products, such as patches and gum, are used to replace some of the nicotine that you would normally receive through smoking cigarettes. This helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, mood swings and anxiety when quitting.

People have also had success using prescription medications like Bupropion Hcl (Zyban) and Varencline (Champix).  For more information about these medications talk to your doctor or contact Quitline.

Research with smokers shows that using NRT products and counselling can more than double your chances of successful quitting.

Get support

Stopping smoking can be stressful. Free services such as Quitline, online services or community health programs can help you stay on track.  If you have suffered from depression, anxiety or another mental illness, ask your doctor's advice before quitting. You can also talk to Quitline for information specifically targeted towards people with a mental illness.

Avoid relapses

The best way to prevent relapse to smoking is to be aware of your early warning signs and have a plan of action, and to avoid high-risk situations.

If you have attempted to quit before but were unsuccessful, think about the situations that led you to start smoking again. It is not always possible to avoid some high-risk situations, such as when feeling upset, having money worries or social occasions where smoking and drinking are occurring.

The best way to prepare for these situations is to plan ahead. Make a list of high-risk situations and triggers that could lead you to smoke again, and work out ways to cope in advance, such as:

  • be aware of your early warning signs and have a plan of action
  • make a list of high-risk situations and triggers that could lead you to smoke again, such as when feeling upset, having money worries, being at social occasions where people are smoking and drinking
  • avoid high-risk situations where possible or prepare yourself by thinking about possible difficulties and ways of coping with them
  • ask people not to smoke around you and never buy, hold or light cigarettes for others
  • do something active when the urge hits
  • change your routine so that you have something else to do at the times and places you used to smoke
  • call Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848) for support 
  • visit Quit now for more ideas and coping techniques.

Help and support

Quitline and a range of other support services can help you to stay a non-smoker.