How to stop smoking

How can I stop smoking?

Get support. It can be hard to change a long-term habit, whether it’s what you eat, how much you exercise or smoking. You don’t have to do it on your own. With support from friends, family and professionals, you’re more likely to be successful.

You’re up to 4 times more likely to stop successfully if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and specialist help.

For free specialist stop smoking services near you go to the Smokefree website.

Stop smoking treatments

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) comes in different forms and helps you to overcome urges to smoke. It’s available on prescription from your GP or local stop smoking service, or to buy from a pharmacy. All the therapies release nicotine into your bloodstream in a safe way. 

Therapies include patches, gum, sprays, lozenges and inhalators. Patches release nicotine slowly. Other therapies act more quickly. The stop smoking service, your GP or pharmacist can help you select the best product for you. E-cigarettes are also a form of nicotine replacement treatment. They are more effective than the other products but you need to buy them yourself and they may still carry some risk over long-term use. Other NRT products are risk-free. 

For most people the best approach is to combine 2 sorts of NRT. Usually this means a patch to provide a background level of NRT and a faster-acting product, such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray to use when you get cravings. Therapy usually lasts 8-12 weeks before you gradually reduce the dose and stop.

Other stop smoking medications

There are 2 other medications available on the NHS: varenicline (Champix) and buproprion (Zyban). Both can double your chances of stopping. Recent research suggests varenicline is the most effective, and more effective than NRT. Ask your GP about this. 

I used nicotine replacements and found the e-cigarette really helpful for when I was driving. Having a nurse at the surgery to talk to about quitting was so helpful. She kept on encouraging me.Chris, who quit 4 years ago

What about using e-cigarettes (vaping)?

Using e-cigarettes (vaping) is 20 times less harmful to your health than smoking. You can find a type of e-cigarette and e-liquid that fits with your needs on your own, but your local stop smoking service can also advise you and provide additional support and medications. 

smoking is 20 times more harmful to your health than vaping

When you switch completely from smoking to vaping you’re likely to get significant health benefits. There are now over 1.5 million people in the UK who successfully stopped smoking with the help of e-cigarettes.

If you can, it is best to stop vaping as well, especially if you have a lung condition. It’s not yet clear if any of the many types of e-cigarettes cause any harm if you vape for a long time. But, it is much better for your health to continue to vape than to go back to smoking! 

How do I know if I'm ready to stop smoking?

Fill in our online questionnaire to remind yourself why you want to quit. You can print it out so you can keep it somewhere you can see it. 

Complete the online questionnaire

When you’re ready to stop smoking– have a plan 

Think of situations in which you’re likely to be tempted and come up with ways to overcome the urge. For example: ‘If I’m with friends who are smoking, I’ll leave the room.’

Our top tips for stopping smoking

  • Pick a date to stop and decide you’ll be a non-smoker from that day. Tell your family and friends and plan something fun to take your mind off it.
  • Ask your friends and family for support. If someone close to you is thinking of stopping, why not stop at the same time so you can support each other?
  • Get rid of everything in your home or at work that reminds you of smoking.
  • Call yourself a non-smoker and think of yourself as one.
  • Think about the possible withdrawal symptoms and how you will cope.

We were going away after Christmas. I decided that would be a good time to stop, as I would be away from the places that I usually smoked. Going out of the back door to smoke became just a natural habit.

Just before we went away, I had my last cigarette – and I’ve never looked back. Judith

For advice on stop smoking treatments speak to your GP, pharmacist or local stop smoking service.

Next: How quickly will I feel better? >

 

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Download our stop smoking information (123KB, PDF)

Last medically reviewed: February 2019. Due for review: February 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.