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Double Your Chances of Quitting Smoking

More than 70% of smokers say they want to quit, but only 5% to 10% are successful on any given attempt. Quitting smoking can be tough, but we have come up with some ways you can double your chances of being successful. Even better, use more than one of the ideas listed below and boost your odds of quitting smoking for good!

Consider Using Medicines to Help You Quit

Research has shown using a quitting smoking medication, such as bupropion (Zyban), varenicline (Chantix), or the nicotine patch, gum, nasal spray, inhaler, or lozenge, can double your chances of successfully quitting. Bupropion is a non-nicotine, prescription medicine that helps reduce cravings. Varenicline is a drug that helps lessen nicotine withdrawal symptoms and lowers the pleasurable feelings people get when smoking. Using a nicotine replacement product can address uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms, giving you the chance to concentrate on changing the "habit" or routine of smoking. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about setting up a medicine strategy that will work for you. Depending on your smoking habits and previous attempts to quit, your doctor may recommend using one or more of these medicines.

Get Self-help Materials to Guide Yourself Through the Quitting Process

Materials are available to help you quit smoking, no matter where you are in the process. You can use the materials to learn how to prepare for your quit attempt, develop strategies to help with cravings, and prevent relapsing once you have quit. The self-help materials offer proven methods that are easy to follow and can keep your motivation high. The American Cancer Society’s "Break Away From the Pack" series has been shown to double your chances of quitting successfully. This material is available for those who are willing to quit smoking. For more information on "Break Away From the Pack" or other self-help materials from the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345).

Find Out About Support Programs Near You

The American Cancer Society can tell you about smoking cessation resources in your community. These may include classes, support groups, Internet resources, or medication assistance referrals. It is important to have support from several different sources during your quit attempt, including family, friends, doctors, and cessation professionals. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 for more details.

Use Telephone Counseling Programs

You may be able to use a telephone counseling program, such as the American Cancer Society’s Quitline program, in your area. You can receive quitting strategies and support over the phone, at times that are convenient for you. Telephone counseling programs have been proven to double your chances of successfully quitting. Your state may sponsor a Quitline program, or you can enroll in the American Cancer Society’s Quitline program clinical trial.

Here are some general tips to help you try to quit:

  • Talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about which medicines are right for you.
  • Write down your reasons for wanting to quit; keep the list with you for extra motivation.
  • Set a quit date and plan ahead to help deal with cravings.
  • Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your plans to quit.
  • Have alternatives to smoking available, such as peppermints, carrot sticks, or cinnamon sticks.
  • Stay busy.
  • Avoid situations that always trigger an urge to smoke.


Hughes, JR. New treatments for smoking cessation. CA: Cancer J Clin. 2000; 50: 143-151.

Fiore MC, Bailey WC, Cohen SJ, et al. Treating tobacco use and dependence. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. June 2000. Available at: http://hstat.nlm.nih.gov/hq/Hquest/db/48/screen/DocTitle/odas/1/s/33958. Accessed October 2003.

Rabius, V, McAlister, AL, Telch, M, Hollister, KG, Stormer, SM, Geiger, A, & Todd, R. Evaluation of the American Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Quitline. Presented at the 129th Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Atlanta, GA. October 2001.

Zhu, SH, Anderson, CM, Tedeschi, GJ, Rosebrook, B, Johnson, CE, Byrd, M, Gutierrez-Terrell, E. Evidence of real-world effectiveness of a telephone Quitline for smokers. New Engl J Med. 2002; 347: 1087-1093.

Silagy C, Lancaster T, Stead L, Mant D, Fowler G. Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002; CD000146.

Diefenbacher LJ, Smith PO, Nashelsky J. What is the most effective nicotine replacement therapy? J Fam Pract. 2003 Jun;52:492-4.

Jamerson BD, Nides M, Jorenby DE, et al. Late term smoking cessation despite initial failure: An evaluation of bupropion sustained release, nicotine patch, combination therapy, and placebo. Clin Ther. 2001 May;23: 744-52.

Revised: 10/18/2005

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