Quitting Methods and What to Expect

There are many different strategies to help you quit. The sections below will help you find the best quitting strategy for your situation:

Call the Quitline on 13 7848

Quitline is a telephone service available to smokers who want to quit.
    • Call the Quitline from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobile phones – normal charges apply).
    • Quitline is confidential – there is no need to give your name if you don't want to.
    • Quitline is staffed by friendly professional advisors who are there to help you. They have a great deal of experience and have helped thousands of Australians to quit. They know how hard it can be to quit smoking and are never judgemental about people who smoke.
    • When you ring Quitline ask for a Quit Pack to be sent free of charge.
    • Quitline is available from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.
If you are thinking about quitting, or even if you’re not ready yet but want some more information, call the Quitline to speak with an advisor to find out what kind of help is available.

To see how Quitline works watch this video.

If you want to help someone quit, Quitline advisors can give you advice on how to support them. If you want to help someone quit, find more information on Helping someone quit .
Top of page

Get a free Quit Pack

You can obtain a free Quit Pack by calling the Quitline on 13 7848 to order a Quit Pack over the phone. In the Quit Pack you will find:
    • The Quit book – will help with planning and preparing to quit and provide tips and strategies for quitting successfully.
    • Choosing the best way to quit – a guide to choosing the services and products which would best help you increase your chance of quitting successfully.
    • Information on how you can speak to a Quit advisor.
    • A handy wallet card with tips to cope with cravings.
    • Information on ordering the Ten Steps to Quit for Good DVD/video and Ten Good Ways of Relaxing CD.


Sign up to QuitCoach

QuitCoach is an online tool developed to assist you in quitting smoking. By answering questions about your smoking habits and lifestyle, QuitCoach will give you ideas and suggestions that will be most useful to you. QuitCoach can help you before or after you quit.

QuitCoach will guide you through the quitting process, which in most cases takes time. QuitCoach can provide you with help for as long as you need it, until you are a stable non-smoker. Each time you visit, you will receive advice that is not only relevant to your current situation, but reflects the progress you have made since you last visited.


Use patches, gum or medication

You may want to use nicotine replacement products or prescription medications to help you stop smoking.

Research shows if you're addicted to smoking and use these medications properly, you can double your chances of quitting successfully.

The medications work by reducing withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, mood swings and anxiety. However, it's important to remember that they usually don't stop withdrawal symptoms altogether.

Smoking is often also linked to habits and emotions, so you may get some cravings in situations where you used to smoke. Support from the Quitline, a health professional or the online QuitCoach can help you handle these situations.

If you have any medical conditions, are taking any medicines, are pregnant or are breastfeeding you should talk to your pharmacist or doctor before using these products.

Nicotine replacement products

These products are available from pharmacies and some supermarkets, and are easy to obtain without a prescription. Using nicotine replacement products to quit is always safer than continuing to smoke. Nicotine by itself has not been found to cause cancer or heart disease. It’s important to remember:
    • Nicotine products will not work as well if you stop using them too soon.
    • The gum, lozenges, tablets or inhaler may not work as well if you do not use them often enough or you use them only after you have cravings.
    • Follow the instructions on the pack or in the pack insert (ask your pharmacist to provide this) on how to use your chosen product to get the best value out of using it.
    • Heavier smokers may need a higher dose or to use two nicotine products at the same time (for example the patch and 2mg gum or lozenge). Your pharmacist or doctor can help you work out what dose you should use.

Steady response products Quick response products
What is it?

Nicotine patch

Nicotine chewing gum, lozenges, tablets and inhaler

How does it work?

Provides a steady dose of nicotine while you wear it.

Gives you nicotine when you crave it, without maintaining the dose.

Who is it suitable for?

Suits most people, particularly if:

  • your need to smoke is constant across the day
  • you want to use it privately.
  • Suits people whose need to smoke varies across the day.
  • Particularly helps if you want to control how much nicotine you take, have bad morning cravings or get most of your cravings in particular situations.
  • It mimics smoking and is less private.
Not suitable for

The patch is not suitable if you have a skin disorder.

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

Tips for best results

It can take a few hours for nicotine levels to rise after you first apply a patch.

If you smoke 15 or more cigarettes a day, using a pre-quitting patch for two weeks before your quit date can improve your chance of success.

 

Quick response products can be used while cutting down the number of cigarettes you smoke before you stop completely. The pack insert has instructions on how best to do this. Take quick response products:

  • at regular times during the day to help prevent cravings
  • just before entering situations where you expect cravings
  • more than one or extra strength varieties at times when you expect strong cravings
  • more than one or extra strength varieties in the morning if you are a heavy smoker or smoke within 30 minutes of waking.
Dosage

You may need to experiment to find the right dose:

  • 21mg/24-hour patch may help more than the 15mg/16-hour patch if you have bad morning cravings – it takes a while after you put on the 16- hour patch for your nicotine levels to rise.
  • The 21mg/24- hour patch causes insomnia and vivid dreams for some but improves sleep for others.
  • You can use a patch and the 2mg gum, 2mg lozenge or 1.5mg mini-lozenge at the same time if you need to.

You can use a patch and the 2mg gum, 2mg lozenge or 1.5mg mini-lozenge at the same time if you need to.


Top of page

Prescription medications

Both bupropion (Zyban, Clorpax) and varenicline (Champix) reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit. Varenicline also works by blocking the nicotine receptors in your brain and making smoking less satisfying. They're not suitable for everyone and can trigger strong side effects in a small number of people. Talk to your doctor to find out if they're right for you. You are allowed one course each of bupropion and varencline on the Pharmeceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) every year. Your doctor will make it a condition of you taking these medications to have some coaching support while you're quitting as well, from a health professional or the Quitline.


Quitting cold turkey

'Cold turkey' is giving up smoking suddenly, without using medications. Though many people will say that they have quit cold turkey, often they have used medication or advice and support to help them through.

There is no harm in trying to quit cold turkey. If you are a light smoker (less than 10 to 15 cigarettes per day) and have only mild withdrawal symptoms when you quit, it's likely that you do not need medication. However, dealing with ingrained smoking habits, smoking friends, times when you miss cigarettes or other tempting situations can still be a challenge for many smokers after they quit. Getting advice and support can help you quit successfully.

You may quit a number of times before you stop for good. A few tips:
    • Try to think of previous attempts to quit as practice.
    • Learn from past attempts – think about what worked for you and put that into practice during your next attempt.
    • Think about what brought you back to smoking and how you might deal with this next time.
Quitting for a while and then going back to smoking is all part of the process of successfully quitting. It is very common, most people do it.

If you're thinking about quitting cold turkey, do some research first. If you are addicted to nicotine, cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable. It helps to have some patches, gum or other nicotine products handy so you're prepared. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about which products might suit you.

If you are addicted and use medications properly, you can double your chances of quitting successfully by getting some support.


Alternative quitting methods

Some methods of quitting smoking are less well researched so it’s hard to really know how much they help. However, if you want to try these methods, seek advice and carefully read this section.

Hypnotherapy

The aim of hypnotherapy for supporting quitting may be to:
    • put suggestions in people's non-conscious mind to weaken the desire to smoke
    • strengthen someone’s will to stop
    • improve their ability to carry through a treatment program.
The usefulness of hypnosis for quitting smoking has not been thoroughly studied, with research producing conflicting results. It has not been shown that hypnotherapy increases the likelihood of quitting in the long term, although counselling or other treatments that may be offered with it can be helpful to some smokers.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves treatment by applying needles or surgical staples to different parts of the body. Related treatments include acupressure, laser therapy, and electrostimulation.

There is no clear evidence to support the use of acupuncture or related treatments as a quitting aid by themselves. Acupuncture may be more effective when combined with counselling or skills training.
Top of page

Quitting methods not recommended

Switching to lower nicotine and tar

More than half of all Australian smokers mistakenly believe that weaker tasting cigarettes (previously known as 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes) are less dangerous. There is no evidence that smokers of weaker cigarettes have less risk of smoking-caused diseases than smokers of other cigarettes.

Some people who smoke believe that by switching to weaker tasting cigarettes they will inhale less nicotine and other chemicals. These cigarettes are designed with tiny holes in their filter to dilute the smoke with air, so it seems less harsh. But research shows that there is little difference in the levels of nicotine, carbon monoxide and other toxins inhaled by smokers of weaker cigarettes compared to smokers of regular cigarettes. This is because smokers generally take more frequent and deeper puffs of these cigarettes to get the amount of nicotine they are used to. There is no evidence that switching to weaker tasting cigarettes reduces addiction or helps smokers to quit.

Filters and filter blockers

Filters and filter blocking products (such as drops) are used to help people gradually reduce the amount of smoke they inhale from each cigarette. However, some smokers may make up for the drop in nicotine by inhaling the smoke more deeply or smoking more cigarettes. There is not enough evidence to recommend these products as useful quitting aids.


Acknowledgement – The information on Quitting Strategies been supplied by Quit Victoria. For more information visit http://www.quit.org.au/ways-to-quit.aspx

Top of page