Quitting Resources
Tips To Stay Quit

Tips and tricks to help you on your path to quitting.

Everyone uses different methods to stay strong and stay quit. In this section, you’ll find tips that have worked for other Vermonters who’ve quit. There’s also a list of distractions you can try and information about some of the obstacles you may face. You’ll also find advice about medications that can help you quit.

See Tips from Former Smokers

18 Videos

Meet Kristy

Kristy wanted to quit smoking. She tried e-cigarettes to help her quit, but never stopped smoking completely. She eventually quit using e-cigarettes, but kept smoking. In this video from CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign, Kristy explains how she finally realized that she had to quit smoking cigarettes completely.

Tips From Former Smokers in VT

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Most of my family members smoke so it was always there and around me i thought it was the cool thing to do so i started steeling ciggs from my mom and aunts pack and i never inhailed until about 4 months after i started. i have been smoking sense i was 13 i am now 22 and i quit last year at the age of 21 i feel more free and open to life i can walk into a meeting having confidence knowing that i can smile and not have to worry if my teeth are yellow or i can have that confidence knowing i dont stink like ciggeretts. who ever is reading this trust me quiting ciggeretts changed my life and it will change yours. i deal with my triggers one day at a time there are so many triggers such as after eating i just have a bowl of chocolate ice cream and that for some reason takes the craving away. for my hand triggers i just play with silly putty that defentally helps. 
Greg, Bennington

I went online and found people’s stop-smoking ‘tricks.’ I wrote them on post-it notes and left them everywhere. When I had weak moments, I read the notes posted by ‘strong’ Jackie and they really helped.
Jackie, South Burlington

I really cleaned house. I got rid of all the things that made me think of cigarettes. I even cleaned out the car so I wouldn’t connect driving with smoking. 
Michelle, Worcester

I worked with a stop-smoking program, and they gave me one tip that really did the trick. I would take a shower every night before bed and when I woke up in the morning, to wash away the nicotine on my skin. When I wasn’t smelling the nicotine, my cravings went away. 
Larissa, Colchester

For the office: I took a ping pong ball and rubber bands. When the urge was there and I needed to do something with my hands I would put the bands around the ball. Not as easy as expected, and it kept my mind and hands busy until the craving passed. It’s small, can be left on a desk or carried around. 
Marilyn, Middletown Springs

The week before my quit date, I started putting all my butts in a jar. When it was mostly full, I filled it completely with water. Whenever I wanted to smoke after that, I would look at the jar. If I really wanted a cigarette, I would unscrew the cap and get a whiff of the toxic stench! It really helped in the first few weeks to remember the reasons I wanted to quit. I didn’t want my hair, clothes and breath to smell like that jar anymore. 
Lisa, Burlington

I was nervous about the cravings before I quit. My friend, Kelly, told me I could call her whenever I got one. I only had to call her a couple of times, but it was really good to know that she was there for me if I needed her.
Sarah, Newport

I used to smoke a pack a day, which was getting pretty expensive. So when I quit, I started putting $5 a day in a jar in my kitchen. I’ve been quit for like 8 months now, so I’ve got a pretty good chunk of change saved up. If I make it to a year being quit, I’m taking my daughter on a vacation with the money.
Frank, St. Albans

I’d tried to quit before and slipped up. This time I went out and bought tons of things to keep me busy. I bought gum, trail mix, some stress balls. Just a bunch of stuff I could use to distract myself when I got a craving again. Pretty soon, you realize the cravings don’t last that long, so it’s OK.
Francy, Wilmington

My son and daughter had never seen me smoke, then one day they “caught me,” and I felt so ashamed. I didn’t want them to see me smoking and I decided then and there that I had to quit. I knew it was not only my own health that was affected, but it also could hurt my children if I wasn’t a good role model. So I held on to that image of them to help me through the tough times.
Barbara, Essex

The biggest reason I quit was for my son. I want to be around when he gets older. So I taped his picture anywhere I used to smoke a lot – in my car, at work, out on the porch. That way I’d see him if I got a craving. So far it’s working.
Alison, Belmont

Exercising was the biggest thing that helped me quit. Besides not gaining weight like a lot of ex-smokers do, it gave me something to distract myself. I have a rowing machine at home, so I’d jump on that for 10 minutes if I felt like I needed a smoke. Pretty soon, I didn’t get many cravings. And I started to get in shape.
John, Chelsea

Trigger Tips

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  • After finishing a meal, get up from the table right away and do something else that you enjoy.
  • Change the way you drink coffee. Enjoy your coffee in a different place or at a different time. For example, wait until you are at work to have your morning coffee.
  • Use your phone in a different room when you’re at home. Have small objects nearby to keep your hands busy while you’re on the phone.
  • Instead of smoking before moving on to your next project, try taking a short walk, watching the news or talking with a co-worker.
  • If you’re feeling angry or upset, let off some steam by taking a brisk walk.
  • Remove the ashtray from your car or clean it out and use it to store some of the money you’d use to buy cigarettes. Play your favorite music and sign along.
  • Avoid outdoor smoking areas. If there is an entryway where people who smoke gather during breaks or before work, find another entryway or time your arrival to avoid the smokers so you won’t be tempted.
  • Ask your co-workers who smoke to hold off during one of their breaks so you can still share the time together – think of it as a non-smoking break or water break.
  • Stay inside when friends go outside for a cigarette. If people are smoking near you, try to stay as far away from the smoke as possible.
  • Drinking may weaken your resolve not to smoke. You may choose to give up or cut down on drinking alcohol when you first quit smoking. Varying the place where you drink may help break the trigger, but it will not help with the weakened willpower.

5-Minute Distractions Details

Most tobacco cravings last about five minutes. If you can get through that withdrawal craving by distracting yourself, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal. When you think about quitting as one 5-minute achievement at a time, it can feel a little easier.

Most of us have heard of the “classic” ways to distract ourselves, like call a friend or drink water. Those are great tips, but there are plenty of others. Have a tip to share that worked for you?

See Tips
  • Delete your old text messages or update your phone’s address book.
  • Try carrying a ping pong ball and a rubber band. It sounds crazy, but trying to wrap that rubber band around the ping pong ball isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it keeps you busy until a craving passes.
  • Walk around the floor or building if you’re at work – think of it as a non-smoking break.
  • Brush and floss your teeth. It will help get your mind off the craving and you’ll have minty fresh breath too!
  • Think of at least 5 songs with people’s names in them.
  • Take a sunflower seed snack break – working through those shells can be a challenge and a healthy way to spend 5 minutes.
  • Add up how much money you’ll save by not smoking for a week, a month, or a year.
  • Peel an orange even if you don’t feel like eating it. It takes 5 minutes just to get all that white stuff off.
  • Delete old e-mails.
  • When a craving hits, go to the restroom, wash your hands, and check yourself in the mirror. By the time you’re ready for a cigarette break, the craving is actually gone.
  • Play with distraction putty or a worry stone to keep your hands busy while you work through a craving.
  • When a craving hits, take a quick walk and count your steps along the way and see if you can do a few more each day.
  • Clean up around the house. Bonus: no cigarette and a fresh, spotless home.
  • Play solitaire or another game if you’re at a computer, but not if your workplace doesn’t allow it!
  • Practice the 4Ds…Breathe Deeply. Drink a glass of water. Do something else. Delay for 10 minutes.
  • Two snowmen are standing in a field. One says to the other: “Funny, I smell carrots, too”. Laughter can reduce stress – so laugh off your craving!

To come up with your own list of distractions, think about the times of the day when you crave a cigarette the most and match up a tip. For example, if you always light up in the car, turn on the radio instead and sing along with the song. Most songs are three-to-five minutes; once you’re done, your craving should be gone.

Stay Quit Tips

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  • Never forget your reasons for quitting.
  • Don’t take even “just one puff” of another cigarette.
  • Don’t rationalize and think you can have just one.
  • Plan for dangerous situations (boredom, drinking alcohol, stress) and decide what you will do instead of smoking.
  • Reward yourself for not smoking. Use the money you save from not having to buy cigarettes. Or, plan a celebration for yourself.
  • Be proud of trying to stop smoking and share your story with others.
  • Begin to think of yourself as a non-smoker.
  • A slip is just a slip. It doesn’t mean you’re a smoker again.

Is Medication Right for You?

Some medications can nearly double your chances of quitting for good. There are three types of medications that help with quitting.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

You can use Nicotine Replacement Therapy, like gum, patches and lozenges. They are available over the counter. Medicaid covers them with a doctor’s prescription and small co-pay. NRT nasal sprays and inhalers are available by prescription only.

PROS: Greatly reduces withdrawal symptoms by supplying your body with low doses of nicotine. Nicotine gum, patches and lozenges are offered for free by 802Quits.
CONS:  Side effects can cause sleeplessness, skin irritation and unpleasant taste, depending on the type of NRT.

Zyban® (Bupropion)
You can only get this with a prescription. Medicaid covers it. For the best results, start taking it about a week before your planned quit day.

PROS: Can be helpful in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and irritability. May be used in combination with NRT products.
CONS:   Prescription needed. May disrupt sleep, cause headaches or dry mouth.

Chantix™ (varenicline)
Chantix™ does not contain nicotine. It works by blocking nicotine from interacting with your brain. You can only get it with a prescription. Medicaid covers Chantix™.

PROS:  Chantix™ reduces the severity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It lessens the sense of pleasure you get from smoking.  This means you should not combine it with other medications.
CONS:  You need a prescription. It may cause nausea. If you are on medication for depression and/or anxiety, consult your doctor about using Chantix™.

Check out the Medications podcast for more.

It’s best to listen to your doctor to find the product that may work best for you. Follow up with your doctor or pharmacist with any questions about a medication.

Staying Quit

Action Strategies
Action strategies are things you can do that can help you cope with cravings. There is no way to know ahead of time which will work for you, so it’s best to have lots of choices. You may find that some work better than others do in certain situations. The only way to know for sure is to try them out.

There are three simple rules to follow when picking action strategies:

  1. It should be easy to do; the easier it is, the more likely you’ll do it.
  2. It should be something that’s pleasant. If it’s unpleasant, chances are you won’t want to do it!
  3. The action you choose should stop or at least reduce your urge. If it doesn’t reduce your craving for a cigarette, you need to find something else that will.

Examples of Action Strategies to Try:

  1. Practice the 4Ds…Take a deep breath or two.  Drink a glass of water.  Do something else.  Delay for 10 minutes.
  2. Click here to connect with other independent quitters who know what you’re going through.
  3. Distract yourself until the craving passes: Add up how much money you’ll save by not smoking for a week, a month or a year. Write the results down and check them out the next time you have a craving. Check out the distractions section for more ideas.
  4. Click here to download a podcast about action strategies.

Being a Non-Smoker
Day One – How will you react on your quit date? Will you jump out of bed, eager to start your new smoke-free life? Or will you hide under the covers hoping that the idea of quitting was just a dream? Either way, take pride in knowing that when you wake up on your Quit Day, you are now officially tobacco-free.

On your Quit Day, you’ll want to do a quick check to make sure all the tobacco is gone. Then, begin your day by going over your reasons for quitting. Another good idea is to put a “bag of tricks” together. In it, you can put hard candy, mints, drinking straws or coffee stirrers, a stress ball or something else to keep your hands busy, a picture of a loved one or pet, or even a note from a child or from yourself to keep you going whenever you get those cravings.

The most important thing to do is to carry out the plans you made for this day. You know the times and situations that will make you want to smoke, but starting now you can put your plan into place to get through those times.

Click here for the Being a Non-Smoker podcast.

Handling Slips
Quitting smoking is like learning a new skill – like playing basketball or driving a car. The most important thing to do is practice – because every time you try to quit you learn something new. That’s why every try counts. Make sure that you give yourself credit for all the work you are doing to quit smoking.

Sometimes, even though the goal is to quit completely, an ex-smoker can slip. All a slip means is that you need a little more practice handling some particular situation. The key is to get right back on track and not let the slip get in your way. It’s natural to feel down or have some negative thoughts about a slip. Be prepared for this, and don’t let negative feelings cause you to return to smoking. You didn’t fail.

Remember: A slip is just a slip. It doesn’t mean you’re a smoker again.

Staying tobacco-free can often be difficult. Follow these steps to help yourself remain a non-smoker. If you do have a relapse, remember, many people slip! Think of how far you’ve come and just get “back on track.”

  • Never forget your reasons for quitting.
  • Don’t take even “just one puff” of another cigarette.
  • Don’t rationalize and think you can have just one.
  • Plan for dangerous situations (boredom, drinking alcohol, stress) and decide what you will do instead of smoking.
  • Reward yourself for not smoking. Use the money you save from not having to buy cigarettes. Or, plan a celebration for yourself.
  • Be proud of trying to stop smoking and share your story with others.
  • Begin to think of yourself as a non-smoker.

For more on staying quit, check out the podcast on Will Power and Slips- Every Try Counts.