What to Expect When You Quit

All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seems impossible.

--Orison Swett Marden

It’s important to understand that quitting isn't easy.  Often, it takes people many tries to quit, so don't beat yourself up if it turns out to be more difficult than you had anticipated.  In fact, it takes the average smoker seven times to stop for good. But, stopping isn't impossible either, in fact, more than three million Americans quit smoking every year.

There are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready to stop smoking. 

  • Physical withdrawal symptoms are temporary.
  • Most people are not successful the first time they stop smoking.
  • Most relapses occur in the first week after you stop smoking; be prepared to use your personal resources, your family, and friends to help you stop.


Coping With Withdrawal


Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking is actually good news. Withdrawal symptoms mean your body is getting rid of harmful tobacco chemicals. They won't last long; usually between a few days and two to three weeks. Most people do not feel all of the withdrawal symptoms below.

Download a full list of DSM4 Withdrawal symptoms.

There is relief to these symptoms!  Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) have helped millions of smokers quit.  Read more about medications to help you decide if an NRT is right for you.

Managing Your Cravings

After you've quit, you may develop cravings. Although they will pass shortly, the Four Ds and the Three R's can help you get through those nagging cravings.


  • Delay. Delay acting on the urge to smoke. The urge will pass in a few minutes. Don't give in.
  • Deep Breathing. Take two deep breaths. Breathe in slowly and deeply, then breathe out slowly.
  • Drink Water. Sip the water slowly and hold it in your mouth a little while.
  • Distract. Take your mind off smoking. Focus on the task you’re doing, get up and move around or refer back to your list of reasons to quit. Anything that shifts your attention away from smoking for a few minutes can help.


  • Remind. Remind yourself why you quit smoking. Go back to your reasons for quitting and read them over again.
  • Rehearse. Rehearse what to do to handle the urge to smoke when challenging situations occur.
  • Reward. Each time you beat the urge to smoke, reward yourself in some small way. Congratulate yourself for your determination and effort.

Weight Management

Some people may experience weight gain after quitting smoking. That's normal. Remember, putting on weight is not nearly as harmful as smoking. And don't let it distract you from your main goal - Quitting Smoking! Here are some ways you can avoid weight gain:

  • Start a daily habit of taking a brisk walk to burn calories.
  • Eat your usual foods but reduce the portion size.
  • Drink low-calorie drinks, or eat sugarless sweets and fruits when you get hungry.
  • Get up as soon as you've finished your meal.
  • Brush your teeth or use mouthwash immediately after a meal.
  • Increase your water intake.



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