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Tobacco Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Tips for quitting smoking

What are your reasons for quitting smoking? Write them down. Do you want to quit cold turkey or cut down a bit at a time? Whatever your reasons or methods for quitting, your environment, behaviour and biology all play a role in determining how successful you are going to be.


  • Make your home smoke-free before you quit. If you go outside to smoke, it will help you start changing some of your routines. This is an important first step in changing any behavior.
  • If you can’t make your entire home smoke-free,  limit your smoking to one room only.
  • Make your vehicle smoke- free. This might be an important part of your smoking routine.
  • Eliminate any triggers or reminders of smoking from your home by removing ashtrays, lighters, and matches.
  • Tell your friends and family you are planning to quit.
  • Do you live with a smoker? Will they quit smoking as well? If not, ask them not to smoke in the house or around you.
  • Do you work with someone who smokes? How will you plan your day if you usually take ‘smoke breaks’ with them?


Dr. Peter Selby, Chief of Addictions at CAMH, talks about what people can do to quit smoking.


There are some things you can do to change your behavior to support your quitting.

Before you quit:

  • Track your smoking. Record every cigarette you smoke, when you smoke, how you feel when you smoke and what you are doing at the time. This will give you a picture of your pattern of smoking and help you identify some of your most challenging cigarettes – the harder ones to give up.
  • Before you light up, ask yourself, “How much do I really need this cigarette?” Sometimes people smoke because it’s an automatic behaviour. If you stop and ask yourself this question, it may identify which cigarettes you smoke out of habit and which ones you smoke because you are in withdrawal.

When you are quitting:

  • Identify your triggers. What makes you want to light up? Your morning coffee? After a meal? Smoke breaks? Make a list of the most common triggers.
  • Change your daily routine. This strategy helps to reduce and even eliminate some of your daily smoking triggers.
  • Plan how you will cope.  Looking at your triggers, think about what you will do instead of smoking. For example, if you have your first cigarette with your morning coffee and it’s the first thing you do in the morning, can you delay your coffee? Shower first, get dressed, and leave your home?
  • Plan on how you will cope when you are bored or in withdrawal. Think of ways to distract yourself from your craving-- maybe drink a glass of water or go for a walk.
  • Consider activities that will replace your smoking: exercise, knitting, or other activities you can do with your hands.
  • Reward yourself throughout your quit journey.  Build incentives into your quit plan and take some time to recognize even the small changes you may make that move you one step closer to your goal of quitting.
  • Get support from family, friends, colleagues, a health professional or Smokers’ Helplineby calling 1-877-513-5333
  • Attend a support group to get support from others trying to quit.
  • If you are in Toronto, the CAMH Nicotine Dependence Clinic can help you with a personalized treatment plan to increase your chances of quitting smoking. Please call (416) 535-8501 x 7400.


Some people find withdrawal from cigarettes too difficult. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to consider medications that can help you manage withdrawal and cravings. There are three types of medications:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) – Over the counter medications such as the patch, gum, inhaler, lozenge and mist replace the nicotine in your body when you quit smoking.
  • Bupropion (Zyban)-- This is a prescription medication that can increase a person’s chances of quitting smoking.
  • Varenicline (Champix)-- This is another prescription medication that can increase a person’s chances of quitting smoking.
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