Smoking and Your Heart
Smoking and Your Heart

Smoking and Your Heart Strategies To Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is possible. It is also hard. There are a few ways to start on the path to quit.

  • Quit all at once (also known as going "cold turkey").
  • Slowly cut back how much you smoke before quitting completely.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about medicines that may help you quit.

Get Ready to Quit

Try to get motivated when you decide you are ready to quit.

  • Make a list of your reasons for wanting to quit.
  • Write a contract to yourself that outlines your plan for quitting.
  • If you've tried to quit smoking in the past, think about those tries. What helped? What made it harder?
  • Know what triggers you to smoke. Do you smoke after a meal, while driving, or when you're stressed? Make a plan to handle each trigger.

Get Support

  • Set a quit date and let those close to you know about it.
  • Ask your family and friends to support you.
  • Consider getting support from 1–800–QUIT–NOW or These resources can help you set up a plan to quit.

Get Medicine and Use It Correctly

Talk with your healthcare provider and pharmacist about products that can help you quit smoking. These medicines and products are helpful for many people.

  • You can buy nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges from a drug store.
  • Other medicines to help you quit smoking can be prescribed by your provider.

Learn New Skills and Behaviors

Try new activities to replace smoking.

  • Instead of smoking after a meal, take a brisk walk in your neighborhood or around your office building.
  • Take up knitting, carpentry, or other hobbies and activities that keep your hands busy.
  • Avoid other people who smoke. Ask those you can't avoid to respect your effort to stop smoking and not smoke around you.
  • Remove cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters from your home, office, and car.
  • Don't smoke at all—not even one puff.
  • Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine. People who drink alcohol are more likely to start smoking again after quitting.
  • You can help control your weight gain from quitting smoking, which is on average 10 pounds or less, by following a heart-healthy lifestyle and being physically active.

Each step you take to remove smoking from your life improves the health of your heart and blood vessels. Remember to celebrate the small wins you achieve as you work toward becoming smoke free.

Be Prepared for Withdrawal and Relapse

Be prepared for the challenge of withdrawal. It helps to know that withdrawal symptoms get better after only 1 or 2 weeks of not smoking and each urge to smoke lasts only a few minutes.

You can take steps to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

  • If you feel like smoking, wait a few minutes for the urge to pass.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of quitting.
  • Don't get overwhelmed—take tasks one step at a time.

If you relapse, or smoke after you've quit, try not to get discouraged and give up. Instead try some of the steps below.

  • Ask yourself what caused you to do it. Were you stressed out or unprepared for a situation that you associate with smoking? Make a plan to avoid or handle this situation in the future.
  • Try to accept that you smoked, learn from it, and recommit to your plan to quit. Getting frustrated with yourself only makes it harder to commit to quit again.
  • Even if you start smoking regularly again, don't give up. Most people who smoke need a few tries to quit before finally being successful.
  • Think about what you need to do to get back on track to meet your quitting goal.
  • Set a new quit date.
  • Ask your family and friends to help you stay on track.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about other resources to help you quit.
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