Quitting is possible

What to do before you quit

When it comes to quitting smoking, it pays to be prepared. Before you have your last cigarette, take a little time to think about how you'll handle the change of becoming smoke-free.
List your triggers
Think of all the situations where you might have a hard time resisting the urge to smoke – for example, your morning coffee or afternoon smoke break. It's helpful to think about ways that you'll cope with these triggers. You may choose to have your morning coffee in a different location or go for a walk, meet up with a friend or read during your break in the afternoon.
Practise being positive

If you feel confident about your ability to quit smoking, it will be easier to quit. A great way to build your confidence and increase your chances of becoming smoke-free is through positive self-talk:

  • I don't need this cigarette right now.
  • Smoking is not something I have to do anymore.
  • I can have a good time at a party without smoking.
Build your support system
Who are the people you can count on to support you? You know, the person you can call at 2 a.m. when you're craving a cigarette or text first thing every day to distract you from having that morning smoke. Let these people know about your quit plan and explain to them how they fit in and what you need from them. Also consider joining an online community of fellow quitters, which has the added benefit of being available 24/7.
Write down your reasons for quitting
List your top 4 reasons for quitting on our handy worksheet and post it where you can see it every day. Or put it in your smartphone. No matter where you are, you can use it to help you get through a craving or just as a reminder during those tough days.
Set a quit date

Think about what's coming up over the next 30 days and pick a day to quit smoking. Here are a few things to consider when you make your choice: 

  • Pick a day when your schedule is routine and nothing new is happening.
  • Avoid dates where you have a deadline or something else that might distract you or give you more stress.
  • Try a "practice quit" to learn what quitting will feel like before you pick your quit date.
Share your quit date with your friends and family! This will help keep you accountable and also provide an opportunity to share with them how they can help during this time. Post it on your favourite social media site or send an email to let everyone know that you have taken this great step toward being smoke-free.
Work with a quit coach on your quit plan
Quit coaches provide support to develop a personalized quit plan, information on how to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and practical tips for dealing with slips and relapses. They can also provide information about other resources that may be available in your community. Call your province or territory's quitline to work with a quit coach for free: 1-866-366-3667.

Proven methods to help you quit

Quitting is a personal experience and every smoker quits a little bit differently. Some people quit gradually, while others stop and start many times. Some people like to have support, but some people prefer to quit on their own. Other people find success with quit-smoking medicines. And getting sidetracked can happen to anyone. You can use any method alone or in combination. There’s no right way to quit smoking.

What we know is that getting support more than doubles your chances of quitting successfully. Combining counselling from a doctor, pharmacist or quitline with quit aids can more than triple your chances of quitting successfully.

Before you decide what's best for you, it's helpful to know what your options are. Here are some proven methods to help you quit smoking.


Quitlines like the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers' Helpline and J’ARRÊTE offer non-judgmental support and information to people who are quitting, thinking of quitting or supporting someone who is quitting smoking. Every province and territory has a quitline. 

All services are free of charge! You can call 1-866-366-3667 – the number on cigarette packages – to reach the quitline nearest you or visit our website.

Quit aids

Many people find success with nicotine replacement therapy (patches, an inhaler, oral spray, gum or lozenges). These products are available without a prescription.

Your doctor can also prescribe a quit-smoking medicine like Champix or Zyban. Both are available in pill form and actively target your brain and how it processes nicotine.

Talk to your pharmacist, doctor or other healthcare professional to find the right quit aid and dose for you.

Online help

There are other great forms of self-help, such as online forums, interactive websites, smartphone apps and text message services.

Smokers' Helpline Online is an online service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It offers free, personalized tools to help you quit. Get access to a quit coach, exercises, tips, tools and referrals to community programs to help you succeed.

Watch the video to hear how this online community helped Cathy become smoke-free.

What to do if you're not ready to quit

You know that smoking is harmful to your health – and increases your risk of cancer – but you’re not ready to quit.

That’s OK. There are lots of reasons people smoke and you have yours.

If you’re not ready to quit, consider all the reasons you do smoke – now and in the past. What made you start to smoke is probably not the same reason you do it today. Taking time to think about this can help you figure out the role smoking plays in your life and why it’s so important to you.

How to help a loved one quit smoking

Remember that they are your friend or loved one first and a person who smokes second. Show them you care no matter what you think about their smoking.

It’s tough to be the loved one of a smoker. You want them to live a long and healthy life, but you worry about how their smoking will affect their health.

Unfortunately, you can’t make someone quit smoking. The decision to quit must be made by the smoker – for their own purposes and in their own time. All smokers have their own reasons for smoking and each will be motivated to quit by different things. Some people try to quit many times before they quit for good!

Here’s what you can do to make their quitting process a little easier:

  • Be sensitive to their moods and needs. At different times, they may want help, to be left alone or to talk about their success.
  • Help them to keep busy.
  • Tell them how much you believe in them and compliment their efforts every once in a while.
  • Be understanding if they slip back to smoking. Let them know you’ll be there to help when they’re ready to try again.
  • Encourage them to take advantage of resources such as Smokers’ Helpline.

For more tips, check out Help Someone Quit – One Step at a Time.

How did 75-year-old Joe successfully quit after 50 years?

"If not now, when?" – Shelley's quitting story

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