Skip to main content
The Third Avenue entrance to the King County Courthouse is temporarily closed. Please use the Fourth Avenue entrance.  
King County logo
Quitting smoking improves your health and reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and many other smoking-related illnesses.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance plans offer programs to help you quit tobacco and many offer free or low cost nicotine patches or other medications to help you quit. If you don't have insurance, you may still have resources available to you including quitlines (in various languages), websites, mobile apps, educational materials, and support groups. You can also talk to your doctor about other strategies for quitting that may be right for you.

For free telephone counseling, self-help materials, medications and other quitting resources...

Visit QUIT NOW

It's Never too Late to Quit Smoking, video series from the CDC

Visit the Asian Smokers' Quitline for online help in four Asian languages (Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese)

Ask yourself the following questions before you try to stop smoking. You may want to talk about your answers with your health care provider.

  1. Why do I want to quit?
  2. When I have tried to quit in the past, what helped and what didn't?
  3. What will be the most difficult situations for me after I quit? How will you plan to handle them?
  4. Who can help me through the tough times? Your family? Friends? Health care provider?
  5. What pleasures do I get from smoking? What ways can you still get pleasure if you quit?

The following is also available in PDF format.


Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit and quit for good. You have the best chances of quitting if you use them together.

GET READY

Set a quit date.

Make changes to your environment.

  • Throw out ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.

  • Ask visitors not to smoke around you.

Look at your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not.


GET SUPPORT

Research shows that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways:

  • Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit. Ask them not to smoke around you.

  • Talk to your health care provider (for example, doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor).

Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. The more counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Find a program at a local hospital or health center. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.


LEARN NEW SKILLS

  • Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task.

  • When you first try to quit, change your routine. Take a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place.

  • Write in a journal, exercise, or read a book.

  • Plan to do something every day that makes you happy.

  • Drink a lot of water.

GET MEDICATION

  • Medications can help you reduce some of your urges to smoke.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these medications to help you quit smoking: the patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges (available over the counter) and a nicotine inhaler, nasal spray, Chantix and Zyban/Buproprion (all available by prescription).

  • Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package to use medication properly.

  • These medications, along with behavior change support can double your chances of quitting and quitting for good.

  • Everyone who is trying to quit may benefit from using a medication. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before taking medications.

BE PREPARED

Most relapses happen within the first three months after quitting. Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try to quit several times before they are successful. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:

  • Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.

  • Other smokers. Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.

  • Weight gain. Many smokers will gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don't let weight gain distract you from your main goal of quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.

  • Bad mood or depression. Find other ways to improve your mood besides smoking: talk to a friend, family member or counselor; start a new hobby; exercise or go for a walk outside.

If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

The following is also available in PDF format.


PREVENTING URGE

You can prepare for tempting situations or triggers.

  • Plan ahead. Know what you will do before you encounter it. Practice that plan often.
  • Avoid the situation until you feel you can deal with it.
  • Change the routines you associate with smoking as much as possible.
  • Keep yourself busy. Avoid situations where you may begin to think about smoking.
  • Remind yourself often that you are happy being a nonsmoker.

WHEN A CRAVING HITS: GENERAL SUGGESTIONS

  • Deep breathing. Every time an urge hits take in a slow deep breath, hold it for three to five seconds and then slowly exhale.
  • Drink some water.
  • Talk about the urge. Call your support person or let people around you know you need to talk for a few minutes.
  • Say to yourself, "I am in control" or "I can get through this." Positive self-talk works!
  • It's natural that you will have thoughts about cigarettes once you quit. Just accept the thought and move on.

AFTER MEALS

  • Brush your teeth right away after every meal.
  • Take a short walk after each meal.

ALCOHOL

  • Explore alternative ways to socialize with friends.
  • Remind yourself that you can have fun without drinking. Millions of people do it all the time!
  • If you do choose to drink, try changing what you usually drink, and limiting yourself to one or two drinks.

BOREDOM

  • Always carry a book/newspaper/puzzle with you.
  • Plan ahead so that you will not have long periods of inactivity.
  • Write letters or your "to-do" list.
  • Start a new hobby or begin an exercise program to fill the time.

CAR

  • Choose a slightly different route for routine trips.
  • Listen to the radio or books on tape to keep your mind occupied.

COFFEE

  • If you always have your morning coffee with a cigarette, try delaying having the coffee or drink your coffee in a different place.
  • Drink tea or a different beverage for the first few weeks instead of coffee.

EVENINGS

  • Find projects to do. Clean your place. Help someone or volunteer.
  • Keep yourself occupied while watching TV. Do puzzles, read a magazine.
  • Visit family or friends instead of staying at home.
  • Start an exercise program. If you can't do anything else, take a brisk half hour walk each night.

HAND/MOUTH

  • Use cinnamon sticks (the kind used for cider).
  • Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum.
  • Use straws, swizzle sticks, toothpicks.
  • Eat carrots, celery sticks, grapes, or other healthy snacks.

MORNING ROUTINE

  • Change the order of your routine.
  • Jump into the shower as soon as you get up.
  • Eat something for breakfast if you normally do not.
  • Look in the mirror first thing each morning and say, "I'm proud to be a nonsmoker!"

OTHER SMOKERS

  • Avoid places where you know people are smoking for the first few weeks of your quit.
  • Politely explain to the person that you are trying to quit and ask them not to smoke around you.

PARTIES/SOCIALIZING

  • Before you go, develop and practice a plan to deal with situation.
  • Rehearse going to the function. Close your eyes and see yourself having a good time, without a cigarette.
  • Practice saying "No thank you, I don't smoke" just in case someone offers you a cigarette.
  • Don't drink alcohol if that is a trigger for you.
  • Have a support person with you at the party.

STRESS MANAGEMENT/NEGATIVE MOOD

  • Separate cigarettes from the situation. Realize that smoking never made a situation any better or helped you deal with it.
  • Step back, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, "I can handle this."
  • Strategize about how to handle stressful situations with friends, relatives or other support persons before encountering those situations.
  • Begin an exercise program, take a formal stress management class or learn to meditate.

PHONE CALLS

  • Stand instead of sit.
  • Hold the phone in the hand opposite of the one you usually use.
  • Limit your time on the phone.

WEIGHT GAIN

  • Remember, the average weight gain, as a direct result of quitting, is only five to seven pounds.
  • Prepare by having healthy snacks available prior to your quit. Carrots, celery sticks, grapes, plain popcorn, raisins, dried fruit, etc.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
  • Begin a modest exercise or walking program.

WORK

  • Put a "No Smoking" sign or motivation poster in your work area.
  • Change your work routine as much as possible.
  • Take your break at a different time.
  • If you usually smoke outdoors, stay inside during your break. Read or work on a crossword puzzle.
  • Listen to music that soothes you.
  • Have a support person at work.
  • Realize that you don't need an excuse to take a break. You deserve it!
  • How can you help me to succeed at quitting?
  • What medication do you think would be best for me and how should I take it?
  • What should I do if I need more help?
  • What is smoking withdrawal like? How can I get information on withdrawal?

Tips From Former Smokers (CDC)

Click a tabbed name below to learn tips from former smokers and access a related poster. Full series of posters available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rebecca started smoking at age 16. At age 33, Rebecca was diagnosed with depression. A smoker for many years, Rebecca often turned to cigarettes to help her cope. She finally quit and felt better—both mentally and physically. In this print ad, Rebecca reveals that quitting smoking improved her physical and mental health.

Download Rebecca's full poster (PDF)

Rebecca: Quitting isn’t about what you give up. It’s about what you get back.

By age 11, Brian was smoking close to a pack a day. He joined the Air Force after high school and continued to smoke heavily. At age 35, while stationed in England, Brian had a heart attack. In this print ad, Brian reveals his toughest battle.

Download Brian's full poster (PDF)

Brian: 18 years in the military and my biggest battle was against cigarettes.

Julia smoked and developed colorectal cancer when she was just 49. In this print ad, Julia says jokes about having gas are funny, until they find a tumor in your colon.

Download Julia's full poster (PDF)

Julia: Jokes about having gas are funny. Until they find a tumor in your colon.

Jessica is a mother with a young son who suffers from asthma attacks due to secondhand smoke exposure. In her tip, she urges people not to be shy about telling people not to smoke around kids.

Download Jessica's full poster (PDF)

Jessica urges people not to be shy about telling people not to smoke around kids.

Smoking causes Buerger’s disease, which can lead to amputations. In Brandon’s case, he was 18 when first diagnosed. Here, Brandon talks about how having both his legs amputated affects his everyday activities.

Download Brandon's full poster (PDF)

Smoking causes Buerger’s disease, which can lead to amputations. In Brandon’s case, he was 18 when first diagnosed.

Becky started smoking cigarettes in high school to fit in. She smoked for many years and at age 45, Becky was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—a serious lung disease.

Download Becky’s full poster (PDF)

Becky started smoking cigarettes in high school to fit in. She smoked for many years and at age 45, Becky was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—a serious lung disease.

Mark smoked and developed rectal cancer at age 42. In this print ad, he shares a tip for dealing with the uncomfortable consequences of colorectal cancer.

Download Mark's full poster (PDF)

Mark smoked and developed rectal cancer at age 42. In this print ad, he shares a tip for dealing with the uncomfortable consequences of colorectal cancer.

Amanda tried hard to quit smoking when she learned she was pregnant. But she was unable to overcome her addiction to cigarettes. Amanda talks about the weeks that her baby girl spent in a hospital incubator after she was born 2 months early, weighing only 3 pounds.

Download Amanda's full poster (PDF)

Amanda talks about the weeks that her baby girl spent in a hospital incubator after she was born 2 months early, weighing only 3 pounds.

Christine smoked, but she exercised and ate healthy foods and never thought her smoking would hurt her. Then, at 44, she was diagnosed with oral cancer. In this print ad, Christine reveals that she lost her teeth and half of her jaw due to cancer.

Download Christine's full poster (PDF)

Christine smoked, but she exercised and ate healthy foods and never thought her smoking would hurt her. Christine reveals that she lost her teeth and half of her jaw due to cancer.