Nicotine from smoking is more addictive than heroin and cocaine. Even occasional tobacco use (social smoking) can lead to daily smoking and addiction.

Did you know:

  • Your brain craves nicotine once it’s gone and it takes time to get used to living without tobacco.
  • When the nicotine level in your system begins to drop you’ll probably feel irritable, restless and have problems with concentration; this is called withdrawal.
  • Quitting is a process, not an event. It takes most smokers many quit attempts before they are smoke-free for life. Learn how to get started.
  • Stop smoking medications can double your chances of quitting successfully.
  • When you use more than one type of support (e.g., counselling and medication), you are more likely to stay smoke-free.

Using a medication to help you quit tobacco can double your chances of success.

Your healthcare provider can also let you know about other services available to help you in your quit attempt i.e., smokers’ helpline.

  • Think about when and why you are smoking. Do you use tobacco at different times of the day, sometimes without thinking about it?
  • Make notes to understand what your triggers are and think about what you’ll do instead.
  • Imagine what your life will look like when you do not use tobacco.
  • If you had success in being tobacco-free before, what helped you? Each quit attempt can teach you something that will help the next one.
  • Plan to eat something healthy every three to four hours so you don’t feel hungry. Fruits, vegetables (i.e. carrot sticks, celery, apple slices) and other high fibre foods are good choices.
  • Plan to be more active. Replace a tobacco break with an activity break i.e. going for a walk.
  • Throw out matches, lighters, ashtrays and avoid situations that could trigger you to use tobacco.
  • Talk to family members and friends about your decision and ask them for support.
  • Think about if there is anyone in your life who will not want you to quit. How will you deal with it?
  • Once you have your strategies in place, start thinking about a quit date that will work for you.
  • You may want to try a “quit morning” or start to reduce your daily tobacco use prior to your quit date as a way to begin.
  • Delay: It works. The urge will pass!
  • Deep breathe: Taking time to relax can help you manage your cravings.
  • Drink water: Drinking six to eight glasses a day can help you flush out toxins and hydrate your body.
  • Do something you enjoy: Go for a walk, chew carrot sticks, brush your teeth. You can get through the craving.
  • Dialogue: Call smokers’ helpline or talk to a friend for support.

Remember once you are living tobacco-free there is no amount of tobacco that is safe for you to use. Using tobacco, even once, can lead you back to consuming the same amount, or even more than before.

First step: talk to your health care provider about quitting tobacco. This can be your:

  • Counsellor
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dentist
  • Diabetes or Asthma Educator
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Social Worker
  • Pharmacist

Using a medication to help you quit tobacco can double your chances of success. Check your employer’s health benefits. You may have insurance coverage for medications and counselling.

  • Nicotine Patch, Gum, Lozenge, Inhaler and Mouth Spray (Nicotine Replacement Therapy – NRT)
    NRT provides nicotine your body craves, but in a safer form. All tobacco products contain carcinogens (things that cause cancer) but NRT does not. NRT is available over-the-counter and is best used with supportive counselling. Consult with your health care professional about recommendations for use.
  • Bupropion (also known as Wellbutrin or Zyban)
    Nicotine-free drug. Prescribed by your doctor and best used with supportive counselling.
  • Varenicline Tartrate (also known as Champix)
    Nicotine-free drug. Prescribed by your doctor and best used with supportive counselling.
  • The Ontario Drug Benefit
    Champix and Zyban were added to its formulary in 2011. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine whether one of these medications could work for you.
    To learn more about medications for quitting, see Health Canada’s information on quit smoking aids.

Learn about quitting smoking from Dr. Mike Evans at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.