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American Family Children's Hospital

Kick the Smoking and Tobacco Habit - And Find Help Along the Way

Madison, Wisconsin - Nicotine in tobacco is a powerful addiction. But millions of people have quit tobacco. You can, too.


There's no question that quitting takes hard work. Your body has to stop craving nicotine, and you have to change your habits.


Nicotine gum, lozenges, patches and other medicines can help reduce the cravings. These nicotine replacements, combined with proper coaching, increase your likelihood of breaking free from smoking.


The best way to quit is what works for you. Some people talk with their doctor about using medications. Others may use over-the-counter nicotine-replacement products. Some rely on personal coaching or a combination of strategies.


No matter what you choose, there's plenty of help along the way. The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line will help you develop a plan that's right for you. When you call, you'll speak with a Quit Line coach who will tailor the service to your needs and will send you a two-week supply of nicotine gum, patches or lozenges.


It's free. It's confidential. And you can call as often as you'd like. Call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or visit


What Happens When You Quit?


 Just 20 minutes after your last

cigarette, blood pressure drops

and your health starts to improve.

Click on the infographic

below to see a larger view

of what happens next.


UW Health Quit Smoking infographic 

To help you get started, here are a few tips from UW Health.


Talk with your doctor

  • Several medications to help you quit smoking are available.
  • Ask your doctor if any of these are right for you.
  • Discuss other options, such as nicotine-replacement products and coaching.

Replace tobacco with healthier options

  • Keep your hands and mouth busy. Try carrots, pretzel sticks or gum. Don't skip meals.
  • Drink water. It helps when your body craves nicotine.
  • Limit coffee and alcohol, which can increase the urge to smoke. 

Change your routine


Certain activities may boost your urge to smoke. If you usually smoke after meals, find something else to do – go for a walk, brush your teeth. Know your triggers. Avoid situations where you might be tempted to smoke.

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Take deep breaths and remind yourself the cravings will soon pass.
  • Avoid places you connect with tobacco.
  • Remind yourself why you're quitting.

Reduce your stress


Some people smoke because nicotine helps them relax. When you quit, you'll need another way to cope with stress. If possible, avoid stressful situations during the first few weeks after you stop smoking.

  • Take a bath or shower, get a massage or exercise.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Learn yoga or tai chi.
  • Take deep breaths when faced with a craving.
  • Watch a funny movie.

Put yourself in a position to resist cravings


Encouragement from friends, family members, co-workers or professionals could make the difference. 

  • Ask for support, join a support group and/or seek counseling.
  • Throw out all tobacco products, lighters, containers, etc.
  • Socialize with people who don't use tobacco.
  • Clean your house and clothes to remove sights and smells that remind you of smoking.

Repeat if necessary


Quitting smoking may require several attempts. Less than 10 percent of people who try to stop smoking without therapy or medication succeed the first time. Each time you quit – even for a short while – you get closer to your goal of being smoke-free.  

  • Think about why you want to quit. A powerful, personal reason can boost the likelihood of success.
  • Examine what caused the relapse
  • Set a quit date within the next month
  • Reaffirm your commitment to life without tobacco 

Date Published: 11/04/2015

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