Start Quitting Today

Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking. It's important to know that it won't be easy and relapse is common. But don't get discouraged if you slip. Just remember all the good reasons you have for quitting and start quitting again. Plus, rely on us to help you along the way.

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You're not alone

Quitting may be the hardest thing you'll ever do, but you're not alone. Our trained family nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists are ready to help you.

Connect with pharmacists

Did you know you can get advice from trained pharmacists at more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide? They'll listen to your specific needs and:

  • Offer smoking cessation assessments.
  • Provide advice on support resources.
  • Recommend stop smoking aids.
Find a store

Visit MinuteClinic®

MinuteClinic is the walk-in medical center inside select CVS/pharmacy stores. It offers the Start to Stop® smoking cessation program — covered by most insurance — that includes:

  • Custom smoking cessation plans.
  • Nicotine replacement recommendations or prescriptions, when medically appropriate.
  • Ongoing coaching and support.
Find a MinuteClinic

Call the quit hotline

Get live phone support from trained representatives. Operated by the American Cancer Society® Quit For Life® Program, the quit hotline available in English and Spanish and can connect you with resources and support in your area. Call 1-844-265-4321

Tips for before you quit

Remind your friends

By this time, you should've told family and friends why and when you plan to quit. Their support will be crucial as you move forward. So, remind them that your quit day is coming and ask them to:

  • Check in to see how things are going.
  • Get together for smoke-free activities.
  • Quit with you or not to smoke around you.
  • Be patient with you because you may be in a bad mood while quitting.

Know your quit method

There's more than one way to quit smoking. Before you start, think about the following:

  • Decide if you want to taper off the amount of cigarettes you smoke gradually or quit all at once. Quitting cold turkey can work for some people; however, many find it too difficult to stick with and have more success tapering off.
  • Know if you want to quit on your own, with a friend or with a group. Each has its benefits. Talk to a health care professional about which is best for you.
  • Ask your health care professional for referrals to support groups or smoking cessation specialists in your area.

Consider medication

There are many over-the-counter options to help you quit smoking. These include nicotine patches, gum and lozenges. There are also prescription options such as inhalers, nasal sprays and oral tablets.

Your pharmacist can provide information about over-the-counter stop-smoking aids (NRT). Your health care provider or MinuteClinic practitioner can also help, by offering counseling and determining if prescription medication may be clinically appropriate for you. The important thing is to find the option that is right for you.

Change before you quit

As you get closer to your quit date, follow these tips to make it easier when the day arrives:

  • Switch to a brand you find distasteful and that's low in tar and nicotine.
  • Make smoking inconvenient and make cigarettes difficult to get to.
  • Make yourself aware of each cigarette by using the opposite hand or putting cigarettes in an unfamiliar location.
  • Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke and smoke only half of each cigarette.
  • Collect your cigarette butts in a large glass container to remind you of the filth smoking makes.
  • Make a list of your smoking habits with planned alternatives, so you can refer to it when you get the urge.

Quitting and beyond

The day you quit

Your first day without tobacco may be tough. That's why you need a quit plan to keep your mind occupied and your day free of triggers. Also, be sure you:

  • Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Hide your lighters and ashtrays.
  • Visit the dentist and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of tobacco stains. Notice how nice they look and resolve to keep them that way.
  • Make a list of things you'd like to buy for yourself or someone else. Estimate the cost in terms of packs of cigarettes, and put the money aside to buy these presents.
  • Keep very busy on the big day. Go to the movies, exercise, take a long walk or go bike riding.
  • Buy yourself a treat or do something special to celebrate.

Dealing with stress

Though you may have turned to smoking in the past to relax, it wasn't really helping. In fact, smoking doesn't do much to make you feel better. Oftentimes, it's the act of smoking and not the nicotine. Here are ways of coping with that same stress without smoking:

  • Take a short break and think about what to do next.
  • Call or text someone to talk about what's bugging you.
  • Distract yourself with a game, movie or book.
  • Get your body moving with a walk or jog.

Quitting day-to-day

Each smoke-free day puts you that much closer to healthier living. Here are a few tips to help you stay on the right path.

  • Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment around yourself—at work and at home. Buy yourself flowers—you may be surprised how much you can enjoy their scent now.
  • The first few days after you quit, spend as much free time as possible in places where smoking isn't allowed, such as libraries, museums, theaters, department stores and churches.
  • Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice (but avoid sodas that contain caffeine).
  • Try to avoid alcohol, coffee and other beverages that you associate with cigarette smoking.
  • Strike up conversation instead of a match for a cigarette.
  • If you miss the sensation of having a cigarette in your hand, play with something else—a pencil, a paper clip, a marble.
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, try toothpicks or a fake cigarette.
  • Know that while cravings can be difficult to ignore, they will usually pass in 5 to 10 minutes. Call a friend or find an activity to keep you busy.

Dealing with withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal is both physical and mental. Nicotine replacement and other medicines can help reduce physical symptoms. But the mental part of quitting may be your biggest challenge.

You can make it through the mental challenges by changing your habits and recognizing your rationalizations. If you used to have a cigarette when you woke up, drank coffee or alcohol or got in the car, you need to remove the link between these activities and smoking. That means doing something else. For example, instead of smoking after you drink coffee, go for a quick walk.

The other mental challenge to overcome is rationalizations. These mistaken thoughts may seem to make sense at the time, but aren't realistic. Believing these thoughts for even a moment could result in smoking again. Some common rationalizations are:

  • "I'll just have one."
  • "I'll quit tomorrow."
  • "It's my only bad habit."

Look out for rationalizations and recognize them as potential quitting roadblocks. When they come up, do something on your list of activities to redirect your thoughts.

What's Next?

When your plan is ready, it's time to put it into action.
We have the support and resources that can help you quit for good.

More Quitting Resources

Find tips to help you quit

Understand nicotine addiction

Get quitting support

Learn how to deal with withdrawal
from the American Cancer Society

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