Learn All About Quitting Smoking

What You’re Up Against

We understand how difficult it can be to make the decision to stop smoking. Self-doubt is one of the big reasons people don’t give up smoking – fear about how you will handle stress, fear of giving up your pleasure, fear that you just can’t do it. The MyQuit program is not here to tell you why you should quit – it is designed to help with how to quit in a way that will work for you.

You’ll find that our approach is different and personalized to your situation. Most people who quit smoking will tell you it’s the best thing they have ever done and they feel better, less stressed, and happy they finally did it.

Learn about Quitting

You Can Stop Smoking
How to give yourself the best chance of success.

Quitting smoking is a journey that may require a few detours along the way. It can take several quit attempts to achieve success. Don’t let that get you down, though. Each quit attempt teaches you something about what worked and what didn’t work, which will help you be more successful in quitting for good on your next attempt.

How Addiction Works

How the Brain Reacts to Nicotine
What happens to the brain when you smoke a cigarette. – Dr. Andrew Pipe

The Right Amount of Help
Different strategies available to help you quit smoking. – Dr. Andrew Pipe

Everybody knows that it’s hard to quit, but not everybody knows why it is so difficult to quit. The reason is that nicotine is a highly addictive drug that changes the chemistry in your brain. While taking a drag on a cigarette makes you feel good and relaxed at first, over time your brain adjusts to the stimulation caused by nicotine. So you need more nicotine to get that same feeling and eventually you need nicotine just to feel normal.

Why do some people find it easier than others to quit?

No two people have the same experience quitting smoking. Some people find they can quit with little or no withdrawal symptoms, and others have a really tough time quitting. Here are a few reasons some people might find quitting smoking more difficult than others.

Genetics – Some people are naturally more susceptible to addiction and therefore become hooked easier and can have a harder time quitting.

How Addicted You Are – Not everybody has the same level of addiction. Those who are more addicted often require more support to successfully quit smoking.

How Motivated You Are – How motivated you are to quit smoking can play a big role in your quit success.

Timing – When there are other stressful things happening in your life it can be very difficult to successfully quit smoking.

How Much Temptation You Have – Different people have different levels of temptation. If you don’t have a plan to deal with temptation then you’re less likely to be successful.

How You Quit is Personal

Just like every person’s quit smoking journey is different, so are their definitions of success. For some, nothing less than stopping smoking entirely will be considered a success, while others might see reducing to half a pack a day as a personal success that’s bringing them one step closer to quitting. Whatever your goal is, our program will help you reach it.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

While everybody knows that smoking can lead to long-term health issues, many don’t realize just how many benefits there are to quitting smoking, and how quickly they can be felt after you stop smoking.

Benefits to Health and Appearance:

  • Reduce chances of cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and other diseases
  • Less likely to get sick
  • Breathe easier, cough less
  • Healthier skin
  • Teeth and fingernails won’t be stained

Benefits to Lifestyle:

  • More money to spend
  • More time to spend with family and friends
  • Food will taste better
  • Sense of smell will be improved

Think the damage has already been done?

Take a look at this chart to see just how quickly your body can recover when you quit smoking.

Body Recovery

Addiction and Routines

There are two sides to quitting smoking.

Addiction – When you smoke, your body develops a physical addiction to nicotine that means it needs nicotine to feel normal. If you have struggled with quitting before it’s important to remember that it’s not you, it’s the addictive nature of cigarettes.

Routines/Triggers – If you have been smoking for a while, you will have certain times of the day, places, people, and situations that you associate with smoking. An important part of quitting smoking is to begin associating these routines or triggers with things besides reaching for a cigarette.

The MyQuit program will help you learn more about what kind of smoker you are and teach
you techniques that will significantly increase your chances of succeeding.

Keeping the Odds in Your Favour

Quit Smoking Medications

Quit smoking medications have been shown to double or triple your chances of successfully quitting smoking. These medications are safe to use and can help manage cravings and other feelings of withdrawal while you get used to life as a non-smoker. While medication usage will vary from person to person, they are typically used for 10-26 weeks.

There are three types of medications for you to choose from:

  1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)– Patch, Inhaler, Gum, Lozenge or Mouth spray
  2. Varenicline (Champix®) – Pill
  3. Bupropion (Zyban®) – Pill

To give you a better understanding of the different quit smoking medications we’ve listed some of the available options, but you’ll get a better idea of what might work best for you after you discuss the options with one of the MyQuit coaches.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

NRT helps to reduce your withdrawal symptoms, like cravings to smoke, anxiety, irritability, and headaches that commonly occur when trying to quit smoking.

NRT comes in the form of patch, inhaler, gum, lozenge, or mouth spray. Each form can be used alone, but many people use two or more forms of NRT to help them quit. The type, amount, and length of NRT treatment can be changed to meet your needs.

Nicotine Patch
Nicotine Patch

Nicotine Patch

  • The patch is applied to a clean, dry, non-hairy area on the upper part of your body (arms, chest, back) and delivers a continuous dose of nicotine through the skin
  • You apply the patch once per day to control cravings and ease withdrawal
  • Takes longer to feel the effects when using a patch compared to other forms of NRT however it delivers a continuous supply of nicotine throughout the day, as long as you have it on
  • Comes in different doses for light/heavy smokers
  • The dosage is gradually reduced over time
Nicotine Gum
Nicotine Gum

Nicotine Gum

  • Should be chewed slowly until you can taste the nicotine or feel a slight tingling in your mouth, then stop chewing
  • Place the gum between your cheek and gums. After one minute, repeat the process until cravings are resolved
  • 1 piece provides the body with nicotine for 20-30 minutes
  • Comes in different doses for light/heavy smokers
  • Gum can be used to respond to immediate cravings as it eases withdrawal
  • Gradually reduce dosage over time
  • Not recommended for people with dentures
  • Avoid eating or drinking 15 minutes before or during use
Nicotine Lozenge
Nicotine Lozenge

Nicotine Lozenge

  • Works in a similar manner to NRT gum
  • Not meant to be chewed- slowly suck, rest between cheek and gum, wait 1 minute, and repeat
  • Not recommended for individuals who tend to chew hard candies as it is not meant to be chewed
  • Takes around 30 minutes to consume one lozenge
  • Comes in different doses for light/heavy smokers
  • Gradually reduce dosage over time
  • Avoid eating or drinking 15 minutes before or during use
Nicotine Inhaler
Nicotine Inhaler

Nicotine Inhaler

  • Delivers nicotine through a cartridge that is shaped like a cigarette
  • Puff as needed to manage cravings. Typically you would puff for 5-20 minutes
  • Many ex-smokers find having something in their hand or mouth helps address cravings
  • Take slow puffs to avoid throat burn
  • Gradually decrease the number of cartridges per day
  • Avoid eating or drinking 15 minutes before or during use
Nicotine Spray
Nicotine Spray

Nicotine Spray

  • Spray in your mouth 1-2 times when needed (up to 4 sprays per hour and 64 sprays per day)
  • Upon first time use, point the nozzle away and press the top of the dispenser several times until a fine mist appears. If spray is not used for 2 days or more, this may need to be repeated
  • Point the spray nozzle towards your open mouth, holding it as close as possible
  • Press the top of the dispenser to release one spray into the mouth, avoiding the lips
  • To avoid getting spray down the throat, don’t inhale while spraying
  • For best results, don’t swallow for a few seconds after spraying

Zyban (bupropion)

Zyban (also known as bupropion) is another pill option. Zyban helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms by changing the levels of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain.

  • You start taking Zyban 7 days before your quit date.
  • People usually use Zyban for 12 weeks; however, some people may continue to take it for up to 24 weeks as required.

Champix (varenicline)

Champix (also known as varenicline) comes in pill form. It works by stimulating the nicotine receptors in your body to reduce both cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Many patients find it takes away the satisfaction you get from smoking.

  • Champix can be started 8-35 days before your quit date.
  • The usual duration of Champix is 12 weeks; however, some people may continue to take it for up to 24 weeks, or as required.
  • Nausea is the most common side effect. Nausea can be managed in most patients by taking with a full glass of water and meal.

Dealing with Cravings

Cravings are your body’s reaction to nicotine withdrawal. You may feel tightness in your throat or stomach, accompanied by feelings of tension or mild anxiety. The intensity of cravings usually decreases over a 2-3 week period.

It’s good to know cravings typically last 3-5 minutes and pass after that. So the trick is to delay long enough for the craving to pass. Here are some tips to remember when you feel the urge to smoke.

  1. Distract – Occupy yourself with a task to keep your mind off smoking. Keep your mind busy, talk to a friend, play a game on your phone, have a portable hobby.
  2. Drink water – Drinking water helps to flush out the chemicals and toxins from your body.
  3. Deep breaths – Deep breathing will help you relax and make the cravings go away. Inhale deeply, hold for a couple of seconds, and then release slowly.
  4. Keep your hands busy – Use a straw or nicotine inhaler to keep your hands busy.
  5. Take a mini mental break – Close your eyes. Create a place in your mind that you can visualize when you need to slow down and relax.
  6. Walk – Walking is a great way to relieve stress as well as to help manage the cravings or withdrawal symptoms that you may experience when quitting.
  7. Stay in a location where you aren’t able to smoke – If you can’t smoke, you won’t.
  8. Get rid of all your cigarettes and lighters – It’s far smarter not to have easy access to cigarettes.
  9. Grab some support – Call a friend or the telephone support line to get through the tough times.


Along with experiencing regular cravings when you quit smoking, many people have triggers that cause them to reach for a cigarette. For some people it’s having a drink or taking a drive, while others associate waking up in the morning with having a cigarette. By first understanding your triggers and then changing your routines, you will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Here are some possible triggers you might have. With the help of your quit coach, you’ll begin to identify what your specific triggers are and develop strategies that work for you.


Waking Up

Work breaks

Work Breaks

While driving


Talking on the phone

Phone Calls

Watching tv


Having a coffee



Social Events

After a meal

After Meals

Friends over

Friends Who Smoke

Having a drink

Having a Drink

Family & Friends

One of the most underused sources of support when quitting smoking comes from family and friends. That’s because a lot of people keep their quit attempt a secret, as they’re worried about the potential embarrassment associated with failure. The fact of the matter is though, that telling close friends and family about your quit attempt can increase your odds of succeeding.

It’s important to remember that the people you tell are there to support you, not to judge you. They’ll be happy to hear that you’re trying to quit smoking and will be able to support you through the tough times during your quit journey as well as celebrate with you when things are going well.

When you decide to quit, show your friends and family members the Support section of this website. It will give them great tips on how they can help you through your journey.

Preventing Relapses

Slips and relapses are a very common part of quitting. Don’t let them get you down, learn from them and continue your quit attempt. Here are some tips that can help you prevent a relapse and keep you on the right track to successfully quitting.

  • Take each day one day at a time
  • Keep a balance in your life in order to decrease any extra stress
  • Identify and plan for high-risk situations
  • Ensure you have a support team in place
  • If you do slip or relapse, learn from it – what went wrong and what can you do differently

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

There are many benefits to being active when planning to quit. Here is a list of some of these benefits but remember to start slower if you don’t exercise regularly.

  • More energy
  • Decreases stress
  • Improves your health
  • Increases your self-esteem and confidence
  • It’s a distraction from smoking
  • Helps lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Helps you sleep

You don’t need to join a gym, just make sure you move around. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; go for a walk with a friend; walk your dog or a friend’s dog; or get off the bus a few stops ahead of your destination and walk. Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommends adults between the ages of 18-64 get approximately 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

Eating healthy when quitting can be a great way to manage your weight and get you back on track to a healthier lifestyle. These 10 Tips for Healthy Eating will get you on your way.