Steps to Quitting Smoking


Step 1: Help Your Friend Identify Reasons for Quitting

Knowing why he/she is quitting can help your friend stay encouraged and help prevent the desire to smoke again. Recommend him/her to write down answers to the following questions and keep it with them as a reminder not to smoke.

  • The many ways quitting will improve their health
  • Family and friends they are quitting for
  • Amount of money they will be saving on cigarettes each year
  • What they could do with the money they save

Step 2: Help Them Develop a Plan

  • Recommend these tips to help them reflect and prepare for the future.
  • Know the quit date—the day he/she completely stops smoking.
  • Use his/her experience— Each time a friend tries to quit brings them closer to quitting for good. Think about the times he/she has tried to quit in the past.
  • Know his/her triggers— Your friend should think about what they are doing and where they are when they smoke. What triggers them to smoke? Make a plan on how to beat the trigger. Here are some common triggers for smokers:
    Being around smokers
    Starting the day
    Feeling stressed
    Being in a car
    Drinking coffee or tea
    Enjoying a meal
    Drinking an alcoholic beverage
    Feeling bored
  • Plan for cravings and withdrawal symptoms-- Will he/she use medicine to help deal with withdrawal symptoms? (Such as nicotine patches/gum) Who will talk with him/her and support them during the quitting experience?
  • Be ready for challenges--- Your friend should think about how he/she will handle stress, negative thoughts, and other roadblocks that might arise.

Step 3: Creating a Plan in Motion

Help them set up a support team so there’s someone to turn to when they hit a rough day. Support from family, friends, and co-workers can make it easier to quit smoking. Help them brainstorm who they want to share plans to quit smoking with and when they will share.

Who will give them support and be positive?

Help them think about ways in which their support network can assist them. Does your friend want their support network to call them? To be sent email messages to keep their spirits up? Or, if it would be better for your friend to have space, help them discuss with their support group about the kinds of support they prefer. It important for your friend to clearly communicate and establish set boundaries and rules with their support group.

Step 4: Becoming a Non-Smoker

Your friend is now ready. On their quit date, help them put their plan into action. Help them focus on getting through just one day – today – without smoking.

If they slip

  • Remind them that if they slip and smoke a cigarette after they quit, don’t give up! They are not the only one who has ever done this, and it doesn’t mean they have failed.
  • Just don’t have another cigarette. Remind them about the reasons they want to quit and tell them to talk to friends, family members or a counselor. Help them keep moving forward with their plan to quit.

If they relapse

  • If they start smoking again, help them try quitting again. Each time they try, they are more likely to quit for good.
  • Take some time to think about what happened:
    Why did they start smoking again?
    What was going on when they had their first cigarette?
    What would your friend do differently next time?
    Watch Betty’s story about how she quit after trying before.
    Look at their quit plan and help them make changes. Then help them pick a new quit date and try again.