Live Better

How to quit smoking

Breaking the habit of smoking is hard – but trying and trying again is the best thing you can do for your health. Quit Victoria director Dr Sarah White shares some advice.

Burning cigarette

Make a plan

When it comes to quitting, there are a lot of individual challenges for smokers. We advocate that the best way to do it is to set a quit date and commit yourself to it in your mind. Then you need to prepare for that date by getting rid of all your smoking paraphernalia and working out a plan for how you will avoid the situations that trigger you to smoke.

If you call Quitline you can speak to a trained cessation counsellor, who can help you develop the best plan for yourself. It’s a free call and the service has been shown to be very effective. The counsellors are not there to tell you off – they are there to coach and support you, and help you put some strategies in place.

Understand your triggers

There are two forms of addiction when it comes to cigarettes. One is the addiction to the drug nicotine. The other is more of a psychological addiction, which happens when people rely on having a cigarette as their ‘me time’, and it becomes ingrained in the habits of their day.

So what people need to do is try to understand when and why they are smoking. When you come to a conviction within yourself that you really do need to quit, and you can say, “I know what triggers my cravings for cigarettes. I know when I smoke, and I know why I smoke,” this will really help you develop strategies around quitting.

Cope with cravings

Cravings can feel unbearable, but if you can hold off and just wait five minutes, the craving will go away. Where possible, take yourself out of the situation where you’re wanting to smoke. For example, if you normally have a cigarette with your coffee in the morning, deliberately do something else instead.

When you feel a craving coming on, remember the four Ds:

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Distract yourself from the craving by doing something else, like going for a walk
  • Deep breath
  • Delay acting for five minutes

Nicotine cravings actually go away reasonably quickly. For most people, you’ll be out of your nicotine addiction within about three weeks, though for some people it may take a little longer.

Quitting again

If you’re trying to quit and you fall off the wagon, don’t think of it as a failure. You’ve never failed. Quitting is a process, and every time you quit you learn a little more. Willpower is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

On average it takes about eight tries before you quit for good. Don’t beat yourself up, and never give up giving up. Every cigarette you don’t have is good for you, so just keep trying.

Your health and your wealth

It’s really important to keep remembering that the leading cause of preventable death in Australia is smoking, and quitting smoking is absolutely the best thing you can do for your health, and also for the people around you.

If the health argument doesn’t sway you, think about how many packets of cigarettes that you smoke a week, and how much you’re spending. Most smokers will save over $7000 a year by quitting.  For your health and your wealth there’s really nothing better you can do.

Where to get help quitting

Quitline – Quitline counselling, combined with nicotine replacement therapy is absolutely the most effective method of quitting. Call 13 78 48 to chat with an experienced counsellor.

The Quit Facebook page – Here you’ll find communities of people who can share their stories and tips about what worked for them.

Your friends and family – Build a support network around yourself to keep you focused on quitting. They can be a big help in keeping you motivated.

Your doctor – Your GP can give you advice based on your personal history, and can help you with nicotine replacement products or quitting medications if necessary. If you have a prescription from your doctor, you can also access a rebate on some of these products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Online programs and apps – There are a number of different online resources available at including:

  • QuitTxt – A text program that will send you SMS messages each day to help keep you focused on quitting.
  • My Quit Buddy – An app developed by the Commonwealth Government to guide you through your journey to becoming smoke-free.
  • Quit Coach – An online program that gives you a personalised quitting plan. It’s very comprehensive and not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s effective.
  • Quit for You-Quit for Two – An app designed for expecting parents, providing support and encouragement to help you quit.

Latest Articles


How to choose the right sports bra

A good sports bra let you work out better.

Read more

Can music improve your mood?

Psychology professor Dr Nikki Rickard explains.

Read more

be. magazine issue 25: Rhythm

Read online or download your copy for free now.

Read more

How to set goals that matter

Why you should choose goals with your real values in mind.

Read more

Thrush: signs to look out for

75% of women experience thrush at least once in their life.

Read more

How to keep your pet cool in summer

The pet safety tips you need to know for hot days.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4