5 Tips on How to Quit Tobacco

Get Ready to Quit

Write down your reasons for quitting. These will help keep you on track and focused on the benefits. Your reasons might include: 

· Protecting the health of your family or pets

· Saving money

· Improving your health

· Pregnancy

· Bad-smelling clothes or breath


Create your "quit" plan. The important parts of a quit plan are:

Step 1: Medications

Step 2: Support and counseling

Step 3: Identify your triggers

Step 4: Set your quit date

Step 5: Take action


Step 1: Medications

Nicotine is an addictive drug found in tobacco products. While you're quitting, using various forms of "nicotine replacement" can help you stay away from tobacco. Other medications can help cut down your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor or nurse about medications that are right for you:


Non-nicotine medications (prescription required)

· Varenicline (Chantix)

· Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban)


Nicotine replacement

· Over-the-counter options: patch, gum, lozenge, mini-lozenge

· Prescription options: inhaler, nasal spray


You may get the best results from using a combination of medications:

· Use non-nicotine medications with nicotine replacements. This is the most effective way to quit.

· Use two forms of nicotine replacement; for example, a long-acting patch to get a stable dose of nicotine and a quick-acting gum or inhaler to relieve cravings.


Step 2: Support and counseling

People who use medications plus counseling to quit tobacco are most successful. Try one of these programs:


In-person counseling program


Free one-on-one coaching at MGH Revere, Chelsea, Charlestown, Everett

English & Spanish. 



Telephone support

· Smokers’ Helpline

English: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Spanish: 1-800-8DEJALO (1-800-833-5256)

Other languages: 1-800-784-8669 (translator service)

Deaf/TTY: 1-888-229-2182


· Partners Employee Smoking Cessation Program

Customized phone counseling for Partners Employees and their

adult dependants

To learn more, call 617-724-2205 or email PiHQ@partners.org


· National Cancer Institute Quitline

1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848)

English & Spanish. Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm


· Veterans Smoking Quitline

1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838)

English & Spanish. Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm

Text messaging support


· Smokefree.gov free text programs



Internet/online support

makesmokinghistory.org (Mass Dept. of Public Health)



freedomfromsmoking.org (American Lung Association: membership fee required)


Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you're quitting tobacco. They can be part of your support network and help cheer you on. Try to find a "quit buddy" who will quit at the same time as you.


Step 3: Identify your triggers

Figure out the triggers that make you want to use tobacco, such as coffee, alcohol, stress, driving, eating, or hanging out with friends. Start thinking about a plan to manage those triggers. You may want to change your routines, especially if they are linked to using tobacco. For example, travel a different way to work if your normal route passes a shop that sells tobacco.


Step 4: Set your quit date

Pick the day you're going to quit using tobacco. Leading up to that day, start preparing:

· Buy or get a prescription for any medications you plan to use.

· Gather tools that will help you quit, such as:

  • Gum, toothpicks, sugar-free candy
  • A calendar for crossing off days
  • New sneakers for exercising
  • Something to keep your hands busy (a squeezable stress ball, knitting, games on your phone)

· A few days before your quit date, make your home and car tobacco-free. Remove ashtrays, lighters, and anything else that could make it easy for you to start up again.


Step 5: Take Action

On your quit date, start your plan! 

· Take your medications as prescribed (Chantix and Bupropion should be started a week or so before your quit date).

· Use your support program: attend a group, log onto a website, call a quitline.

· Watch out for danger zones and triggers and use your quit plan to manage them.

· Manage cravings:

  • Use your quick-acting nicotine replacement (gum, inhaler, lozenge)
  • Practice the 4 D's (below).
  1. Deep breathing: Breathe in, hold it for a few seconds, then breathe out.
  2. Distract: Focus your attention on something else, like going for a walk or watching a movie.
  3. Drink water: This gives you something different to do with your mouth and hands.
  4. Delay: Tell yourself that you'll wait for a few minutes first. Then, see if you still have the urge. Cravings will pass whether you smoke or not, and sometimes they pass pretty quickly.

If You Slip, Get Back on Track

· If you slip and use tobacco, it's okay! This is a normal part of quitting. It doesn't mean that you have gone back to using it for good. It often takes multiple attempts to quit forever, and you learn from each one.

· Focus on your quit plan. Keep to the plan, and don't beat yourself up.

· Learn from the slip. What caused it? What will you do differently next time?

· Don't give up! Remember your reasons for quitting. You can do this!


“I have been coaching clients for close to three years and I strongly believe that even if they come for only one [tobacco cessation coaching] visit, they will walk away with a different perspective on smoking. Coaching is based on non-judgmental support; using positive messages increases people’s motivation for change. Over the years, I have worked with many clients who initially were not ready to quit, but then called me a couple of months later to schedule another follow up. The most important thing to quitting is to never give up on YOU!” – Mira Oravcova-Mejia, Tobacco Cessation Coach, Living TOBACCO-FREE


Authored by Partners Tobacco Cessation Expert Panel

This document is not a substitute for your care team's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.