How can I keep from smoking again?

Quitting smoking is tough. You should pat yourself on the back for trying, even if you're not completely successful the first few times you try. Don't give up. If you get off track, just try again. Eventually, you will be able to quit smoking.

Try to Avoid Relapse


Most ex-smokers who start smoking again do so within the first 3 months after they quit. You can help increase your chance for success if you plan ahead and devise some strategies to avoid relapse. Here are some examples.

  • Stay away from places where you're more likely to smoke.
  • Spend more time with nonsmokers.
  • Find a friend who smokes and who will quit with you so you can encourage each other.
  • Do activities during which you can't smoke, such as riding a bike or swimming.
  • Spend time at places where smoking isn't allowed, such as museums, libraries, movies, theaters, and the nonsmoking sections of restaurants.
  • If people start smoking in your presence, excuse yourself and leave.
  • Don't let others smoke in your home, office, or car.
  • Wash your curtains, bedding, clothes, and any other materials that smell like smoke.
  • Wash your windows, which may be covered with smoke residue.
  • Throw away ashtrays and lighters, along with any cigarettes you may still have hanging around.
  • Keep your hands busy by doing such things as making a craft project or playing cards.
  • Nibble on low-calorie snacks, such as carrot sticks or sugar-free gum. Also, get your teeth professionally cleaned and brush often.
  • Exercise. It is a great way to stay busy, combat negative feelings, and improve your heart health.
  • Limit alcohol. For many people, alcohol and cigarettes go together. Also, alcohol can weaken your resolve to stay smoke free.
  • When you feel the urge to smoke, re-read your benefits list.

Choose a few of these strategies to try.

If You Slip, Start Again

If you slip up and have a cigarette, don't waste energy feeling guilty or punishing yourself. Instead, put your energy into getting back on track. Most smokers relapse three to five times before quitting for good. Re-read your reasons for quitting. Take a look at your list of triggers. What was it that made you light up? Make a special effort to avoid this in the future. Write down a few things that you can do to respond differently the next time this trigger comes up.