What are some ways I can stop smoking?

The act of “quitting smoking” is also known as smoking cessation. Smoking cessation is often done in smoking cessation programs. A smoking cessation program may be assisted or unassisted. 

Assisted Smoking Cessation Programs

In “assisted” smoking cessation programs, the smoker receives help and guidance from health care providers and/or coaches (in-person, web-based, phone-based). These programs ideally follow the best practices for smoking cessation by including: 

  • Counseling 
  • Medications therapy such as nicotine replacement therapy or perhaps prescription medications 
  • A standardized set of steps helping a smoker to move toward making a quit attempt. Or, the program may be tailored to each individual participant. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, assisted smoking cessation programs using counseling and medication therapy have higher success rates than unassisted smoking cessation programs (self-guided quit). 2

Unassisted Smoking Cessation Programs

In “unassisted” smoking cessation programs, the smoker does not receive help from health care providers or coaches. Instead, the smoker may:

  • Try to quit cold turkey (stop immediately) 
  • Use quit program advice from online and print resources 
  • Use over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy 

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the majority of quit attempts (approximately 95%) are made using unassisted smoking cessation programs. 

If you are considering a smoking cessation program, you should consider a program that is assisted to obtain the best results. 

Check with your physician, health plan, and employer for options that may be available to you. Go to www.smokefree.gov to learn about additional options.


2. 2008 PHS Guideline Update Panel, Liaisons, and Staff. Treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update U.S. Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline executive summary. Respir Care. 2008;53(9):1217-22

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