How to quit smoking

Quitting smoking can be really tough. Cigarettes contain all sorts of addictive substances, so the road to being smoke-free requires commitment and dedication. Check out our suggestions for ditching the smokes, including how to identify your triggers and habits, and where to seek outside help if you need extra support.

This can help if:

  • you want to quit smoking

  • you’ve tried quitting, but it hasn’t worked

  • you need some strategies for quitting.

Cigarette in ashtray

What’s in cigarettes?

Along with hundreds of other chemicals, ciggies contain tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine, a super-addictive stimulant drug that speeds up the messages sent to and from your brain. Like any drug, nicotine affects people differently, but most people who smoke for any length of time have a chance of becoming addicted. Even though quitting can be really hard, it’s not impossible.

What quitting can feel like

Smoking can be tough to kick, because the addiction is both physical and mental. To quit, you have to conquer the physical addiction to nicotine as well as change the habits and routines that you associate with smoking.

When you first stop smoking, you'll most likely experience nicotine withdrawal. 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 your stress and anger, or as a coping mechanism for another problem, or even as a way to relax, you’ll need to find a replacement for cigarettes during these times. Learn more about strategies for dealing with stress, anger, coping and relaxation.


Triggers are the things that make you want to smoke, such as having coffee in the morning or winding down after work. What these triggers are depends on your personality, habits, and when and where you used to smoke.

Common triggers include:

  • feeling stressed at work

  • feeling angry after an argument

  • finishing a meal or drinking alcohol

  • hanging out with friends who smoke

  • drinking coffee

  • watching someone else smoke.

While you’re trying to quit, try to avoid situations where you’re likely to feel triggered. For example, if you usually 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 creating a ‘new routine’, you’ll break your old habits and eventually stop associating certain activities with smoking.

Where to get help

When ditching the cigs, you don't have to go it alone:

  • Talk to people close to you. Just telling your friends how you feel can take your mind off smoking for the moment.

  • Figure out when you're vulnerable. What are the situations that make you want to smoke? Try to have a plan for dealing with them. You might chew gum or eat sunflower seeds, or go for a walk around the block.

  • 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 you try anything.

  • Talk to your local GP about quitting, particularly if you're a heavy smoker or have other health conditions (including being pregnant). A 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.

  • Learn more about strategies for stress, anger, coping and relaxation.

  • Get support from friends and family by telling them you’re trying to quit.