What it's like to quit smoking

Here are answers to questions that people often ask about the path to quit smoking.

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How do I quit smoking?

There are many ways to successfully quit smoking compared to going 'cold turkey’. Always be aware that it can take many tries, but don’t give up — kia kaha, you’ve got this!

Choose a plan that works for you and your whānau.

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Here are some proven ways to quit:

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

The nicotine in cigarettes is really addictive. Within a few hours of your last smoke your body will notice that you’ve stopped. This is why people who are quitting will have to deal with cravings and withdrawal.

You may experience symptoms such as:

  • Getting grumpy easily.
  • Finding it harder to sleep.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Increased hunger.
  • Feeling a bit down.
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Not being able to relax or sit still.

If you’re going through cravings and withdrawal, don’t worry. This is normal and are just signs that your body is missing the nicotine from the smokes, and they will reduce over time.

Who can help me quit smoking?

Quitting smoking is easier when the people you care about are on board to help you. Get some tips on asking for support from friends and whānau.

You can also get support from a Quit Coach. They will work with you to come up with a personal plan to stop smoking and stay smokefree, as well as provide access to NRT and other options. Find out more about Quit Coaches.

What can help me quit smoking?

Nicotine isn’t what causes the most harm in a cigarette — it’s actually the tar and toxins in tobacco smoke. There are some products you can try to help with your cravings:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products such as gum and patches give your body a slow release of nicotine. Some are subsidised through a Quit Coach or your doctor, but you can buy other products at a pharmacy. More information on NRT.
  • Medicines to stop smoking. You will need a prescription from your doctor to use them.
  • Vaping provides nicotine with fewer toxins than smoking tobacco. It has some risks, and the biggest is that the long-term effects are not yet known. Get more vaping facts.

When can I quit smoking?

Start whenever you’re ready. It’s good to think about quitting soon if you’re planning to get pregnant or are already pregnant. Get more information on quitting for your pēpi.

When will I feel better after quitting smoking?

Everyone is different but you’ll feel changes in time as your body begins to heal itself.

You might smell and taste better within a week of not smoking. Some feel more energetic and have a stronger immune system a year after quitting. Your lungs will begin to heal too. Find out more about the changes to your health on the Smokefree website.

How many people have quit smoking?

Around 88,000 people in Aotearoa gave up smoking in the past year according to a 2020/2021 Ministry of Health survey. This includes 25,000 Māori and 8,000 Pacific people who committed to quit.

Smoking rates are continuing to reduce. Find out more on the Smokefree website.

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