Skip to content

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Quitting Smoking - Staying Smoke-Free

To quit smoking, you have to learn how to deal with your cravings and temptations to smoke. But staying smoke-free involves learning how to think and act like a nonsmoker.

Many people who are able to make it through those first tough weeks without smoking run into trouble about 3 to 4 weeks after they quit. Surprisingly, this is just about the time when physical cravings have stopped. And yet—people often go back to smoking. Why does this happen? Some researchers found that staying smoke-free may depend on how well someone has been able to start seeing himself or herself as a nonsmoker.3

Tips to deal with cravings in the first few weeks

Many of the changes you feel when you first quit smoking don't feel good. Nicotine withdrawal can make you feel grouchy, hungry, and nervous. You may have trouble sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks. But they do go away, especially if you take medicine. You may struggle with changing your smoking habits and rituals. This is a lot to deal with, but keep at it. You will feel better.

The following tips may help you in the first few weeks:

Tips to stay smoke-free over time

To stay smoke-free, you will have to make it past a second big challenge. This will come about 3 to 4 weeks after you quit, when you notice that your physical cravings are almost gone. Making it past this second big challenge will depend on how well you have been able to start thinking and acting like a nonsmoker. You will be able to enjoy and value a smoke-free lifestyle when you:3

  • Realize from your experiences after quitting that smoking really didn't help you that much in the past.
  • Face situations where you used to smoke and no longer feel like you need to smoke.
  • Find other ways to do things that you thought smoking helped you do in the past.
  • Reject or outgrow your image of yourself as a smoker.

There are many ways you can make positive changes in your life, such as starting an exercise program or learning how to manage stress.

Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch