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Five ways to improve your chance of quitting smoking for good

Posted by Patrick: August 2013

Smoking's a game of numbers, odds and percentages.

Like these:


  • A long-term smoker has a 50 per cent chance of dying of a smoking-caused illness.
  • Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Around 70 of them cause cancer.
  • Over 10,000 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Up to nine-in-ten of these are caused by smoking.
  • A pack-a-day smoker will spend around $7,000 on their habit. Every year.


Smoker or non-smoker, we all know this; smoking is an expensive killer.

That's why most smokers want to quit. In Victoria alone in a given year, roughly half of smokers will make a quit attempt.

So if you smoke, how do you make the next quit attempt work for good? And if you have a friend or family member who smokes, what advice and support can you give them?

There are proven steps that can be followed when quitting to increase the chance of success.

Here are five ways smokers can turn the odds in their favour when quitting.

1.    Planning and date-setting increase the chance of quitting.

Turn the "I'll quit next month/Christmas/pregnancy/price increase" into:


  • A solid date.
  • That's in the next fortnight.
  • On an easy day to quit.


"But there's no such thing as an easy day!" you exclaim. Maybe look at it this way: an easy day isn't one where you're under the pump at work, off to run 100-odd errands, then out drinking with your friends, who for an extra challenge, also smoke.

Look for a day where you won't be under much pressure but will have plenty to do to occupy yourself.

2.    Prepare for the first few days to make things easier.

On the night before quitting do a ciggie detox. Chuck your cigarettes down the sink and round up all your ashtrays (don't forget to empty the one in your car). You might want something healthy to snack on throughout the next day so chop up some veggie sticks and have a bottle of water handy.

The next day the urge to smoke may well be there. Just remember: cravings don't last.

Look at each one as a five minute window to fill. Brush your teeth, grab a glass of water, go for a walk around the block. Most people find that the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are gone within two to four weeks.  

3.    Cold turkey or cutting down – choose the way that works best for you.

Research shows that quitting abruptly is more effective than slowly reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke. Combine that with:


  • Some coaching – like a call to the Quitline, and
  • Nicotine replacement therapy – think gums, lozenges, inhalators or
  • Quitting medication – Champix or Zyban


to improve your chances of quitting for good.

If you decide to cut down your cigarettes, think about your favourite cigarette and remove it first. That way you're helping to eliminate the idea of cigarettes being enjoyable.

4.    Plan for risky situations to help make sure you stay quit.

Drinks, parties, socialising. Great fun, but they can all stand in the way of staying quit. Anticipating and preparing for the situations where you're more likely to want a cigarette is a great way of ensuring you avoid them for good.

Think about forgoing alcohol for the first couple of weeks, or try cutting back your drinks. If you're catching up with friends that smoke take along some gum to chew or grab your phone and bust out a high score on a game when a craving comes up. If it gets too hard you can always call a cab - you can afford it with all that money you've saved by not smoking.

And of course be very, very wary of the "But just one won't hurt" thought. You don't need it, and it usually leads straight back to full-time smoking.

5.    You're more than twice as likely to quit if you call Quitline on 13 7848.

Could you use a personal trainer to help you quit? Quitline's counsellors are a great go-to for support and advice, no matter what stage of the quitting process you're at. Call them with one or two questions, or join their call-back service for ongoing help. The calls are free, and you can improve your chances of quitting by getting in touch.

The Quitline's not just for smokers. Give them a call if you would like some advice on how to help someone close to you quit.

If you've given up, what were your tips to success? Did you try any of the above?

If you or someone you know could use help or advice to quit smoking, visit quit.org.au or give the Quitline a call on 13 7848. 

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