I can't stop smoking

Choosing to quit smoking is tough as cigarettes contain addictive substances that make them difficult to give up. Quitting involves looking carefully at smoking triggers and routines, and sometimes seeking outside help if you need extra support.

This might help if:

  • You want to quit smoking
  • You've tried quitting but it hasn't worked
  • You'd like to know effective strategies for quitting smoking
boy with mohawk and cigarette

What’s in cigarettes?

Cigarettes have nicotine in them, a highly addictive stimulant drug that speeds up the messages going to and from your brain. Like any drug, nicotine affects people differently, but most people who smoke for any length of time have a high chance of becoming addicted.

Even though overcoming addiction to cigarettes can be really hard, it’s not impossible. If you have decided that you want to give up, there are a number of different options available to help you.

Quitting smoking

Smoking is both physically and mentally addictive. To quit, you have to fight the habits and routines that go with smoking as well as the physical addiction to nicotine. When you stop smoking you'll probably get nicotine withdrawals.

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

  • Feeling irritable and craving cigarettes
  • Getting hungry easily 
  • Not sleeping well
  • Headaches, sweats and nausea
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
If you smoke as a way of dealing with stress, boredom or anger you might find the process of quitting more difficult. It’s worth trying to find other ways of managing these things in order to make quitting that little bit easier.


Some things will trigger an intense craving for cigarettes. What these triggers are depends on your personality, habits, and when and where you smoke.

Common triggers include:

  • Working under pressure
  • Wanting to smoke after a meal, or with alcohol
  • Hanging out with friends who smoke
  • Drinking coffee
  • Watching someone else smoke

While you’re trying to quit, it may be worth avoiding situations where you are likely to be triggered. For example, if in the morning you start the day with a coffee and cigarette on your walk to work, try having your coffee at your desk once you get to work instead. By breaking triggers and habits, you will be much more likely to find quitting easier.

If you're struggling

  • Talk to people close to you – just being able to tell people how hard you're finding it will make it easier.
  •  Figure out when you're vulnerable. What are the situations that make you want to smoke? Try to have a plan to deal with these situations.Try chewing gum or sunflower seeds, going for a walk or leaving the situation if you can.
  • Try nicotine replacements. You can get gum, patches, lozenges and inhalers that replace the nicotine you're no longer getting from cigarettes. These are available at pharmacies and chemists but make sure you talk to the pharmacist or doctor about which method might work for you before trying anything.
  • Talk to your local GP about quitting, particularly if you're a heavy smoker or have other health conditions (including being pregnant). The doctor will be able to help you work out the best method of quitting smoking for your personal situation.

For more quality information on how to quit smoking, try contacting the QuitLine (13 78 48) or visit QuitNow.

What can I do now?

  • Talk to your doctor or check out QuitNow for advice.
  • Find out more about smoking habits.
  • Seek support from friends and family if you're struggling.
Last reviewed: 21 August, 2015
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