The Cold Turkey Challenge: Your Path to a Smoke-Free Future

If you’d like to quit smoking, you may be wondering how to do it – nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medication, counseling or quitting cold turkey.

Many people who successfully quit combine counseling and medication. But other people find that a cold-turkey method works for them.

“Knowing your personality may help you determine what method to choose. If you’re unable to quit the first time that you try, try again. If you’re serious about quitting, don’t stop trying until you quit for life,” says pulmonologist, Nadeem Ali, M.D.

If you’d like to try quitting smoking, Dr. Ali shares tips to help keep you on track and stay motivated.

Choose a “quit day” less than a month away. Decide ahead of time that you won’t smoke another cigarette after that date. Some research has shown that quitting cold turkey is more effective than quitting gradually.

“Try not quitting at times of high stress such as holidays, or while taking on large projects at home. The added stress may have you craving for cigarettes,” adds Dr. Ali.

Make a plan to help yourself succeed. Identify triggers that make you want to smoke, like drinking coffee or seeing friends. Then, figure out ways to distract yourself, so that you remain smoke-free.

Tell your friends and relatives about your decision. When your loved ones know about your plan, they can help keep you motivated. Some people may be inspired to quit with you.

Create a list of dependable people to call. Friends may volunteer to be a phone call or text away when you’re struggling. Read back through supportive texts when you need a lift.

Change your habits to steer clear of triggers. If you always smoke when you see certain friends, temporarily stop seeing them. If you always smoke after dinner, try chewing gum instead.

Find support from former smokers. Ask friends who quit smoking to share their best strategies to reduce cravings. Join a social media group for quitters and former smokers for advice.

Think about the benefits that you’re gaining by quitting. Make a list of things that you’ll be able to do as a non-smoker. For example, food may taste better, and you may lose your smoker’s cough.

Remember the reasons why you decided to quit. Are you feeling more energetic? Are you improving your life expectancy? Focus on your positives.

Use tech to help yourself along. Sign up for’s free SmokefreeTXT texting program or download its free QuitSTART app. You’ll receive supportive messages, helpful recommendations and ways to track your progress.

Seek help from a doctor or counselor. If quitting cold turkey is too hard and you might relapse, ask for help. Some people benefit from counseling, medication or nicotine replacement therapy.

Don’t give up. It takes some people more than one attempt, but it’s possible to quit. More than half of American adults who were smokers have quit.
If you need guidance, you can find more ideas on or call 800-QUIT-NOW.

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