Great American Smokeout

About 70% of the current 47 million smokers in the US report they want to quit. But most attempts are unsuccessful. Most smokers try to go it alone, quitting cold turkey. The most successful quitters (those who remain smoke-free) take advantage of the clinically-proven methods to help smokers quit.

Quit with Support

Studies have shown that successful smoking cessation includes a combination of support mechanisms such as:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy, for example: prescription drugs, patch, gum, and inhaler, to deal with the physical aspects of addiction

  • Counseling to help smokers recognize and cope with problems that come up during quitting and provide support and encouragement in staying quit

  • Social support groups to assist smokers through the emotional aspects of quitting

Increase Your Chances

Quitting smoking involves four crucial steps: making the decision to quit; setting a date to quit; dealing with withdrawal; and maintaining a smoke-free life. The American Cancer Society offers assistance in all areas. Calling the Society can link you to resources that include:

  • Trained specialists who can talk with you about your decision to quit
  • Information about over-the-counter and prescription therapies for overcoming nicotine addiction
  • Referrals to local support groups and resources
  • Information about the Great American Smokeout® - a day when millions of smokers nationwide join together to quit tobacco

Success: You Can Reach It

Here are some tips to remember when quitting smoking:

  • Don't keep your intentions to quit a secret. Tell your friends and family and build a support network. And talk with your doctor about how quitting can improve your health.

  • Throw away things that remind you of smoking, like lighters, ashtrays, or matches. Avoid being around smokers, and if your friends smoke, ask them not to smoke around you.

  • Avoid bars and other places where smokers gather; go to the movies, museums, or other places where smoking is not allowed.

  • Calm the nervous energy you may feel with physical and mental activity. Take long strolls and deep breaths of fresh air, and find things to keep your hands busy, like crossword puzzles or building a model ship.

  • When the urge to smoke strikes, do something else. Call a supportive friend. Do brief exercises such as pushups, walking up a flight of stairs, or touching your toes. Keep oral substitutes like carrots, apples, raisins, or gum handy. And never allow yourself to think that "one won't hurt," because it will.

Your Quit Day Checklist

The day you put down tobacco is a true milestone. Use this checklist to help you make it.

Getting ready for quit day:

  • Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.
  • Tell friends and family the date you have chosen.
  • Stock up on sugarless gum, carrot sticks, and hard candy.
  • Decide on a plan in advance. Will you use nicotine replacement therapy? Will you attend a smoking cessation class? If so, sign up now.
  • Practice saying, "No thank you. I don't smoke."
  • Set up a support system. This could be a group class or a friend who has successfully quit and is willing to help you.

Getting through quit day:

  • First and foremost: don't smoke.
  • Get rid of all cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and any other items related to smoking.
  • Keep active-try walking, exercising, or doing other activities or hobbies.
  • Drink lots of water and juices.
  • Begin using the nicotine replacement you have chosen, if that's part of your plan.
  • Attend the stop smoking class you have chosen or follow a self-help plan, depending on your strategy.
  • Reduce or avoid alcohol.
  • Use the four "As" to deal with tough situations:
    • Avoid people and places that tempt you to smoke.
    • Alter some of your other daily habits, like meal times, your route to work, etc.
    • Alternatives for your mouth - like healthy snacks - can help keep it busy.
    • Activities for your hands - like needlework, wood carving, or other hobbies - can keep them occupied.

Congratulations! The day you quit tobacco is one of the most important days of your life, and your first step toward better health. If you'd like additional tips or resources that could double your chance of quitting successfully, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

For additional information, please visit the Smoking and Quitting Smoking Center.

Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the National Women's Health Information Center (

Last Editorial Review: 11/18/2002

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