How to stop smoking

How can I quit smoking?

Make sure you get support. It’s 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. Support from friends, family and professionals is really important.

Some people manage to quit smoking by going cold turkey - stopping smoking without cutting down or using nicotine replacement therapy. But you’re up to four times more likely to quit successfully if you use a combination of stop smoking medication and specialist help.

Lots of organisations give excellent support to help you. Talk to your GP or pharmacist too.

Once you’re ready, it’s important to plan.

Top tips for quitting smoking:

  • Pick a date to quit and stick to it. 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 quit at the same time so you can support each other?
  • Understand situations in which you’re likely to be tempted. Write them down and come up with ways to overcome the urge. For example: ‘If I’m with friends who are smoking, I’ll leave the room and have a glass of water.’
  • 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.”


If you find yourself thinking about having a cigarette, try these distractions:

  • Talk to someone - call a friend or relative to get some support.
  • Go for a brisk walk - this will help clear your head and lungs.
  • Stay busy - download the Smokefree app or play a game on your mobile phone.
  • Drink a glass of water or juice - keep yourself occupied for those crucial few minutes.
  • Change the scene - just moving to another room can help, or step outside and get some fresh air.

Next: How quickly will I feel better? >


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Last medically reviewed: February 2016. Due for review: February 2019

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.