There are many methods available and you may find better luck with some than with others. Remember that you learn something from each quit attempt, so do not be discouraged if you have to try a few different methods before you find the one that is right for you.
Talk to a Quit Coach about what methods could work for you
Behavioural support includes coaching and/or counselling to change behaviour around smoking. It addresses the psychological aspects of nicotine addiction to help you develop the tools to quit smoking. This can include developing problem-solving skills, learning to identify your triggers, helping you understand and develop your motivations for quitting, and identifying strengths and supports in your life to help you reduce or quit.
QuitNow offers free behavioural support through our trained Quit Coaches, who provide customized support based on your personal situation and preferences.
Group support is another useful method to assist you in quitting. Our monthly Group Support Sessions take place via teleconference and let you connect with others trying to quit smoking, to learn from each other's experiences and provide peer motivation.
The Community Forum is also a great way to get support from others in the QuitNow community.
You can also find local support, including both individual or group options, at some organizations in our Local Help Directory
Accessing prescription medications and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in BC to quit tobacco. You can get coverage for up to 12 weeks for one of the following two options: prescription medications or NRT.
Prescription medications do not contain nicotine but reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms by affecting how nicotine interacts with your brain. Learn more about available medications.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works by providing the body with nicotine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. NRT is one of the most effective tools to help people quit tobacco and can increase your chances of quit success. Read more about how NRT can help you here.
The gradual reduction method involves gradually cutting down the amount of cigarettes or other tobacco products you use each day. This can be done while using nicotine replacement therapy products (NRT) like the nicotine patch, gum, or lozenges to help manage nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It is also helpful to use behavioural techniques like the 4 Ds (Delay, Distract, Drink Water, Deep Breathing) or behavioural counselling to help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
A suggested approach to this method is to choose a quit date and slowly reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over a six-month period, or until you feel ready to quit completely. However, you can use any period of time that feels right for you.
The gradual reduction method is proven to increase your chances of quit success in the long term.
Advantages of Gradual Reduction
- Keeps you engaged in a positive behavior change
- Provides you with a more realistic goal
- Helps you achieve small health benefits by reducing the amount you smoke overall
- Allows you to get the nicotine your body craves in a cleaner form (NRT) as you gradually transition away from cigarettes
Quitting cold turkey means quitting abruptly without using any quit smoking aids or support. While it might work for some, many people do not find success with this method. This is because many just are not prepared for the intensity of withdrawal and urges to smoke. Going cold turkey to quit can be difficult, and without support, most people relapse.
Consider combining your efforts with other evidence-based quit methods that are proven to increase your chances of quit success.
Cytisine is a compound found in some plants. It works by blocking the effects of nicotine to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It also blocks the “reward” effects of nicotine, so if you start smoking again while taking Cytisine, you will not feel as satisfied. This can improve your chances of quitting.
In Canada, one product containing Cytisine (brand name Cravv®) has been licensed for sale as a natural health product. This term includes products such as vitamins and minerals, herbal medicines and other alternative and traditional medicines. It has not been approved as an official quit-smoking treatment.
When combined with brief behavioral support, Cytisine was found to be superior to nicotine replacement therapy in helping smokers quit smoking, but it was associated with a higher frequency of self-reported adverse events (nausea, vomiting and sleep disorders).
Cytisine works by changing the way the body reacts to nicotine. It makes it harder to get pleasure from nicotine and also helps to reduce cravings by blocking the receptor in the body that responds to nicotine. Other advantages include:
- It is easy to use
- It does not contain nicotine
- Short duration of therapy (25 days)
Common side effects
- Nausea and vomiting
- Insomnia and abnormal dreams
How to use
- Cytisine is available as a pill that you take by mouth and is available as a natural health product. Talk to your health care provider prior to starting Cytisine
- From the Health Canada website: “Compared with prescription medications with a drug identification number, natural health products have less stringent regulatory approval requirements regarding the burden of scientific evidence for efficacy and safety. Patients can purchase Cytisine without a prescription from select pharmacies, health shops and directly online from the manufacturer.”
Acupuncture, hypnosis, relaxation (the Brief Automated Suggestive Relaxation technique), and meditation are alternative approaches and treatments to quitting smoking that some people use.
While there are stories of quit success using these methods, there is no consistent scientific evidence to show that acupuncture or hypnosis help people stay quit beyond six months, and there is limited information on the effectiveness of relaxation and meditation techniques for quitting smoking. However, quitting smoking is a personal journey, and if you find something that is safe and works for you, then stick with it. What is important is that you find an approach that you are comfortable with and have confidence in.
Remember, if one approach does not work, you can always try another. Every quit attempt is valuable.
E-cigarettes and Vaping
Some people have found success using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. However, vaping has not been approved as a quit method by Health Canada or any other regulatory body, and there is a lot we do not know about the health risks of vaping.
If you are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking
- Be aware of the currently known risks of vaping
- Switch fully from cigarettes to vaping products. Using both at the same time can put you at a higher risk of lung and heart damage
- Make sure you are getting your vaping products from a certified shop
- Do not modify the contents or power mechanism of the device
- Make a plan to quit e-cigarettes, too. The best thing you can do for your health is quit all forms of tobacco and nicotine products