Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals, including 69 carcinogens (chemicals known to cause cancer).
There are immediate health benefits as soon as you quit smoking, even if you already suffer health problems.
Reasons to quit
There are so many reasons to quit smoking. Almost straight away your health will start to improve and your risk of cancer and other diseases will reduce. Quitting smoking improves the health of those around you by reducing second-hand smoke and you’ll also save money.
Many smokers need to practice quitting several times before they give up for good. Keep trying and don’t give up! Practice helps you plan what to do the next time you get an urge to smoke.
Approaches to quitting
For many people the most successful way to quit is going “cold turkey”. This means stopping completely without cutting down.
Using nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, tablets or inhalers may be useful for heavy smokers, though most smokers quit by themselves. Your doctor or pharmacist will explain how to use these products. For more information on NRT, download our factsheet.
Prescription medications can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability, and anxiety. But it may not stop them completely.
For your best chance at quitting it is important that you seek support. In NSW, the Quitline is a confidential telephone information and advice service to help smokers quit and stay quit.
Some people try herbal remedies, hypnotherapy, spiritual healing or other alternative therapies, but there is insufficient evidence these methods help you quit.
Coping with cravings
The first few days of quitting can be the hardest, as you may feel tired, irritable and tense. After about one to two weeks most of these symptoms will disappear. Try the four Ds to cope with cravings:
- Delay acting on the urge to smoke. After 5 minutes, the urge to smoke weakens.
- Deep breathe in and out slowly, repeat three times.
- Drink water, sipping slowly, holding it in the mouth a little longer to savour the taste.
- Do something else. Listen to music, exercise or talk to a friend. After quitting smoking, being more active is the best thing you can do for your general health and wellbeing.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your doctor or healthcare professional.
Support to quit
Whether you want to quit or are looking to help someone you care about, there are a wide range of resources to help.
- Tackling Tobacco booklets
- Quit Kits: A free quit smoking resource that can be downloaded online. It provides advice on planning and preparing to quit smoking as well as information on tips and strategies to help you quit successfully.
- iCanQuit: A free online resource that provides you with tools and support to help you plan your quit journey. You can also hear and chat online with others in the community forum.
- QuitCoach: Quit Coach smoking advice is a free online tool that provides you with a personalised quitting plan and quit.
- My QuitBuddy: A personalised app to help you quit smoking and track your progress. There is also a community board where you can gain motivation and support from other people quitting.
- Quit for you – Quit for two: A free quit smoking app for mums-to-be that can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes online store or at Google Play store.
- The Quit Now Calculator: Helps you work out how much money you could save if you quit smoking.
- NSW Quitline (13 78 48): The NSW Quitline is a free and confidential telephone service providing customised assistance to help you with your quit smoking attempt. The NSW Quitline Advisors (including Aboriginal and multilingual advisors) are available at the following times: Monday-Friday: 7am to 10:30pm Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 9am to 5pm
- Aboriginal Quitline (13 78 48): Provides culturally appropriate and tailored quit smoking services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW and ACT.
State based information and support
Thinking about quitting smoking or supporting someone to quit? Online quit information and support can vary between states. To find out what support is available in your area, call Quitline on 13 78 48 or choose from the various links below.