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Choosing the best way to quit

You may have tried to quit before on your own and found it too hard. Research shows that there are two types of support that increase the likelihood of success:

1. guidance from a professional advisor or coach to help you manage habits and emotions linked to smoking

AND

2. nicotine replacement products OR quitting medications (both reduce cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms)

Coaching

Coaches provide structure, motivation and support. A good coach:

  • helps you organise what you need to do and offers reminders of when to do it.
  • helps you work out your reasons to quit.
  • builds your confidence and encourages you.
  • helps you learn new skills to manage cravings, withdrawal, weight and/or stress.
  • reminds you that things will get easier.

Proven, high-quality coaches:

  • Quitline service has been evaluated regularly and always shows high success rates. You can also join the Quitline call-back service for ongoing support.
  • QuitCoach offers tailored quitting advice based on your answers to questions (but doesn’t have the personal touch of a Quit Specialist).

Other types of coaching:

  • Face-to-face counselling by a GP or trained Health Professional
  • Self-help books
  • Brochures
  • Websites

Nicotine Replacement Products

Quitting Medication

Cold Turkey vs. Cutting Down

Summary: Quitting abruptly, with the help of nicotine replacement products or quitting medication, is the most effective method of quitting.

What is cold turkey?

The term “cold turkey” is most often used to refer to quitting abruptly or suddenly (rather than gradually cutting down to no cigarettes). 

Many people refer to cold turkey as quitting suddenly, regardless of whether they are using nicotine replacement products or quitting medication. Traditionally “going cold turkey” meant that you quit suddenly without the help of quitting products.

What is cutting down?

Cutting down typically refers to reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over time, to a point where you quit. Some decide to smoke only on the hour, for instance, then every two hours, etc. until they are going all day without smoking.

Which method is best?

Research shows that quitting abruptly is more effective than cutting down unless you are cutting down as part of a structured program where someone other than you decides when you can smoke.

If you decide to cut down it’s better to remove your favourite cigarettes first. Leaving your favourites to last makes them more enjoyable. This means it is more difficult to quit completely.

Some people quit successfully by cutting down, but it’s important to have a clear plan, and a quit date. Be aware that cutting down uses a lot of energy. You can get to a point of being over quitting (quitting fatigue) before you’ve even quit!

If quitting abruptly is too big a step, then cutting down is better than not trying at all. Either way, remember you will be more likely to succeed with a good coach like Quitline and with nicotine replacement products or quitting medication.

Quitting product selection guide

Patches Nicotine replacement product

The patch is worn on the skin and your body absorbs nicotine from it continuously, either during the day only (15mg, 16 hr patch) or over 24 hours (21mg, 24 hr patch).

The patch typcially comes in three strengths for weaning off nicotine over 12 or so weeks: Step 1 (21mg), Step 2 (14mg) and Step 3 (7mg). Some smokers benefit from just using Step 1, others from stepping down through all three strengths. Since May 2013, a 25mg (step 1) 16 hr patch has also been available, which goes with a 15mg (step 2) and 10mg (step 3) patch.

There is also an option of a pre-quit patch (21mg, 24 hrs) for use in the two weeks prior to quitting. The pre-quit patch is for smokers who struggle to quit completely the first day they start the patches.

Patches are available at a more affordable subsidised cost on prescription from a GP. Using the patches can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness. Patches nearly double your chance of quitting.

Gum Nicotine replacement product

Nicotine gum is chewed for a short while and releases nicotine while you rest it in the side of your mouth. The gum comes in two strenghts: 2mg and 4mg.

Take the gum at regular times during the day to help prevent cravings or just before entering situations where you expect cravings.

Gum is useful if: you want to control how much nicotine you take, you have bad morning cravings or if you get most of your cravings in particular situations.

Gum is not suitable if you have dentures or some types of dental work.

Gum nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Lozenge Nicotine replacement product

Nicotine lozenges and mini lozenges are tablets that dissolve in your mouth. They are available in standard (2mg/1.5mg) strength and extra (4mg) strength.

Take the lozenge at regular times during the day to help prevent cravings or just before entering situations where you expect cravings.

Take more than one or extra strength varieties when you expect strong cravings.

You can also use lozenges while cutting down the number of cigarettes you smoke before you stop smoking.

The lozenge nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Mouth spray Nicotine replacement product

The mouth spray works by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally inhale from cigarettes, providing comfort by lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping your body wean off nicotine over a number of weeks.

To release the nicotine, you spray on the inside of your cheek, or under your tongue, once or twice. A benefit of this product is the speed of the nicotine’s absorption into your system compared to other oral nicotine products.

Using the mouth spray can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness. Mouth spray nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Inhalator Nicotine replacement product

The inhalator works by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally inhale from cigarettes, providing comfort by lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping your body wean off nicotine over a number of weeks.

You insert a cartridge into the inhalator and draw the vapor into your mouth. You can puff on it as long as you would a cigarette – after around 80 puffs, or 15 minutes or so, the cartridge will be empty. A benefit of the inhalator is that it mimics the hand-to-mouth action of smoking.

Using the mouth spray can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and restlessness. The inhalator nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

Champix Quitting medication

Champix is a medication developed to help people quit smoking and is available on prescription from your GP. It works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and by blunting the satisfying effects of smoking. Using Champix can help reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability and restlessness.

Champix is a 12-week course. The advice is to continue to smoke in the first week and to set a quit date for some time in the second week. As the dose builds up, cigarettes will start to be less desirable, and it will be easier to cut down before your quit date. It’s important to take Champix for the full 12 weeks, even if you’re feeling confident, to help prevent relapse.

Champix more than doubles your chance of quitting.

Zyban Quitting medication

Zyban is an anti-craving medication that is available on prescription to help people stop smoking. Using Zyban can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit, such as cravings, irritability and restlessness. Zyban can also make smoking feel less rewarding.

Zyban is a 9-week course. You slowly build the dose up in the first week. The advice is to continue to smoke in the first week of Zyban, and set a quit date for some time in the second week. It’s important to take Zyban for the full nine weeks, even if you’re feeling confident, as even after regular cravings have faded, staying on Zyban can help prevent relapse.

Zyban nearly doubles your chance of quitting.

 

Save your work

Quitting takes practice. Save the work you've done on this page to help create a personalised quitting approach that works for you.

 

 

Real life stories

Just do it!!

After 20 years of smoking I threw my half-full pack in the bin. That was it. No patches, no anything (except my willpower and my belief that enough was enough). I have won. It has been a battle. I...

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