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Goal Setting

Are you really ready to quit? If so, it is time to set a quit date. Once you have picked the day, stick to it. Placing the date on your calendar or day planner will help to remind you of your promise to yourself to quit.

Start Quitting Before Your Quit Date

Even before your quit date, you can start quitting. Try these tips.

  • Buy a brand you do not like and only one pack at a time.
  • Put a rubber band around your tobacco products to make you think about it every time you go for a smoke.
  • Change the way you hold your cigarette (for example, use your other hand).
  • When you get the urge, practice putting it off for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, and then 30 minutes.
  • Try drinking a glass of water instead.

Understanding Your Habit

What are your patterns of tobacco use? Are you aware of when, where, and why you use tobacco? Follow this short exercise to find out more about your specific patterns:

Get a piece of paper, a 3x5 card, or print Goal Setting [pdf] use pages 2 and 3 to and keep them with your tobacco products. Each time you open a new pack, get a new piece of paper and write down the date.

Every time you light up, chew, or dip, write down four things:
1. What time of day is it?

2. How bad is your craving to smoke? Very bad, not bad at all, so-so?

3. What is your mood? Happy, sad, so-so?

4. What are you doing? Driving, eating, watching TV?

Do this for at least 4 days in a row. This exercise will help you to see what time of day, what situations, and what feelings prompt you to use tobacco. It will help you understand your particular triggers for using tobacco.

Inform Family and Friends

Tell others of your promise to quit. If you have family or friends who use tobacco, ask them not to do this when you are around. Try to find an acquaintance to quit with you.

Remove Tobacco Products from Your House or Car

The day before your quit day, throw away all ashtrays and lighters. Do not just hide them because you will find them. Get rid of all leftover tobacco products by flushing them down the toilet. Take the lighter out of your car.

Review Previous Quit Attempts

If you have tried to quit before, go over what went wrong. Did you get rid of all the ashtrays and leftover cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products? Maybe you tried to quit on your own, without telling anyone. Was there a particular situation that prompted you to start up again? If so, what was it and how can you prevent it from happening again?

Anticipate Challenges

You know that this will be difficult and there will be moments when you are faced with a huge challenge of whether or not to use tobacco. Think about how you will handle those situations now so you know what to do when they come up.

Reward Yourself

Since you are going to be saving money by not buying tobacco products, plan to do something special with the money that you save. It is much easier to quit if you have small goals to aim for along the way. What do you think are some rewards you can plan for yourself?

Handling thoughts about Tobacco use

You have been a tobacco user for years. It is not going to be easy to change to being tobacco-free. You will have thoughts about having a cigarette, but you can overcome them. Here are some tips to help you on your quit day and thereafter.

  • Drink plenty of water or juice.
  • Avoid heavy meals.
  • Go places where smoking is not allowed.
  • Clean your home and car to get rid of the smoke smell.
  • Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
  • Keep a squeeze toy or a stress ball handy.
  • Avoid coffee and other beverages you associate with smoking.
  • Leave the table when you are done eating.
  • Do something to keep your mind off using tobacco, like reading a good book or taking up a hobby.
  • Place a rubber band around your wrist and snap it each time you have a craving.

Struggling with Trigger Situations?

Print Smoking Triggers [pdf] and do the exercises to help you be ready for difficult situations.

Assessing High-Risk Situations

It is important to change your routine. If you usually have a cigarette first thing in the morning, go for a short walk instead. If you use tobacco while watching TV or have a favorite smoking chair, read a book or sit in a different chair instead. Figure out what your triggers are and avoid them. Remember, everyone has triggers. You may be more likely to use tobacco when you are drinking, around certain people, or in certain environments.


Smoking rates are three times higher in drinkers than non-drinkers. Drinking alcohol is the number one risk factor for relapsing into smoking. Drinking not only tempts you to smoke, but it also affects your determination not to smoke.

  • Tell your friends not to offer you cigarettes or alcohol.
  • Go to a no-smoking restaurant and do not sit at the bar.


Stressful situations can prompt you to smoke. When you feel stressed and are craving a cigarette, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. Review the relaxation exercises in Appendix A.


Many times the people you are around influence if you smoke. If you usually spend time with people who are smokers, you may want to ask them not to smoke when you are around. Try to go places where smoking is not allowed, or make plans with non-smokers. If you work and usually go outside for a smoke break, make plans to do something else, like taking breaks with non-smokers.


More than likely, your environment plays a huge role in your decision to smoke. There are probably certain settings in which you are more likely to have the urge for a smoke. If you usually smoke while talking on the phone, doodle on a piece of paper to keep your hands busy or walk around while you are talking. If you smoke while you are driving, remove the lighter and ashtray from your car, or hang a "no-smoking" sign.

No matter what your triggers are or what the situation is, be prepared! Before you go someplace where you may be around smokers, say to yourself "Yippee, I am smoke-free!"

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