10 self-help tips to stop smoking

If you want to stop smoking, you can make small changes to your lifestyle that may help you resist the temptation to light up.

Want to quit smoking?

Contact your local NHS stop smoking services or call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044 (open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am-4pm)

Think positive

You might have given up before, but tell yourself that you’re really going to do it this time.

Make a plan to quit smoking

Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Don’t be put off by a wedding, party or other time when you’d normally smoke.

Change your diet

Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead.  

Change your drink

The same study looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find that simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice), affects their need to reach for a cigarette.

Identify when you crave cigarettes

A craving can last five minutes. Before you give up, make a list of five-minute strategies. For example, you could leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times. 

Get some quitting support

If friends or family members want to give up too, suggest to them that you give up together. Also, there are your local NHS stop smoking services and the NHS Smoking Helpline, available on 0300 123 1044 (open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am-4pm).

Get moving

A review of scientific studies has proved that exercise (even a five-minute walk or stretch) cuts cravings and may help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals.

Make non-smoking friends

When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers. "When you look at the smokers, don’t envy them," says Louise, 52, an ex-smoker. "Think of what they’re doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke."

Keep your hands and mouth busy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can make you twice as likely to succeed. As well as patches, there are tiny tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. If you like holding a cigarette, use an inhalator. Try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy. 

Make a list of reasons to quit

Keep reminding yourself why you gave up. Make a list of the reasons and read it when you need support. Ex-smoker Chris, 28, says: "I used to take a picture of my baby daughter with me when I went out. If I was tempted, I’d look at that."

Read more about stop smoking treatments available on the NHS.

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2014

Next review due: 16/01/2016


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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

ecigworld said on 05 May 2015

Quitting smoking is a great step towards bumping up your happiness and living a healthier lifestyle. Replace your cigarette breaks with e-cigarette, to get those feel good endorphins pumping. E-cigarettes are healthier alternative to smoking. Keeping in touch with friends and family is vital for feeling happy and healthy.

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Munchkin8 said on 08 July 2014

I disagree that anything makes cigarettes taste better, in fact I believe it's all psychological. I read Allen Carr's book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking which helped to reverse all the brain washing about tobacco done by advertising and society. I'd recommend the book to anyone who wants to stop smoking. Nicotine replacements are just as bad as tobacco and keep you hooked for longer. All you need to do is read the book with an open mind, it's fantastic!

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Jane Allen said on 17 May 2013

I agree with the tip on listing your reasons for smoking cessation and carrying the list around so you can take a look at it anytime you're pressed to smoke. I believe this tip is useful for anything you want to achieve in life, as carrying a list like this makes you remember why you want to achieve your goal(s).

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dsmith10 said on 30 August 2012

If anyone on here is trying to quit smoking or needs a little motivation have a look at this:

<a href="http://www.simplyeliquid.co.uk/eliquid-blog/intrestering-facts-about-smoking-infographic/">http://www.simplyeliquid.co.uk/eliquid-blog/intrestering-facts-about-smoking-infographic/</a>

I still cant believe that chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide are used in cigarettes!!

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Sonia Leach said on 12 September 2011

Does anyone have any ideas of how I can encourage my children to stop smoking? Although they are now adults and have left home (are in their 20s) they still smoke tobacco. I know there is not much I can say because they just think it's 'mum worrying as usual' and as we all know, adults don't do what mum tells them to do.
So what can I do when they visit? Sit and watch them stand outside smoking? Any clever ideas out there?

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Jonathan Darby said on 04 August 2011

I found displacement activities useful. I didn't associate smoking with walking, therefore, if I got a craving I would brush my teeth then set off for a walk.
The problem is often while suffering from insomnia, boredom during the extra hours you have each night! One activity I found was reading in the bath. Not ideal but I had already walked over 7 miles.

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