Make a quit plan. Here’s how.


It’s easier to stop smoking when you prepare in advance

Who says quitters never win? On the contrary, quitting smoking may be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

What should your quit date be?

Once you’re ready to quit smoking, the first thing to do is set a quit date:

  • Pick a date several days away, but not more than 2 weeks away. You are more likely to quit if you have some time to plan but don’t put it off.
  • Pick a date when you will be busy and won’t have time to dwell on not smoking. But you don’t want to be too busy or stressed by work, family, friends, or other events. Weekends are good times for many people.

When you choose your quit date, put it in writing to firm up your commitment. Write it on your calendar and post it where you will see it.

Now you can begin getting ready for your quit date.

How do you get ready for your quit date?

Look over the ideas below. These are tips gathered from thousands of successful quitters by researchers with Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Start working on them before your quit date. Try them all to be ready on the big day.

One to two weeks before

  • Talk to your doctor about getting using a stop-smoking medicine that is right for you. This will give you time to get your prescription. For some medicines, you will start taking them a week before your quit date.
  • Buy a substitute for beverages you usually drink with your first smoke of the day. If you normally drink coffee, for example, get juice or tea to drink instead. Have these handy for your quit day.
  • Buy gum to keep your mouth busy.

One week before

  • Talk to family and friends. Let them know you are going to quit smoking. 
  • Start changing your smoking routine. Limit yourself to smoking in only one room at home or only outside.
  • Make smoking boring. Don’t do anything else while you smoke — no eating, talking on the phone, or drinking. Notice how this changes your pleasure and desire to smoke.
  • Make a list of things you will do when you have a craving instead of smoking — things like chewing gum, brushing your teeth, or calling a friend.
  • Add up how much money you spend on cigarettes each month. Make a list of things you will buy for yourself with the money you will save.
  • Plan ahead for the times you will be most tempted to smoke. Think about how you can avoid situations and people that make you want to smoke — at least at first.
  • The night before you quit date, get rid of cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, and matches. Search your pockets, drawers, and car for any strays.

Your quit date

  • Make sure you have your stop-smoking medicine handy.
  • Change your daily routine. For example, take the bus or a different route to work or drink tea instead of coffee.
  • Practice deep breathing if you have a craving to smoke.
  • Be patient with yourself. The first few days and weeks are the hardest part. Remind yourself it will get better.
  • Plan extra time for tasks that need patience or a lot of thought.
  • Go to bed early and get plenty of rest.

Follow these tips and you will be well prepared to successfully quit smoking. Consider printing this list and placing it somewhere you will see it often, like on your refrigerator, by the bathroom mirror, or on a cabinet door.

By Jennifer McClure, PhD