Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

What’s the best way to quit smoking?

July 8, 2016

About the Author

photo of Wynne Armand, MD

Wynne Armand, MD, Contributor

Dr. Wynne Armand is an associate physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where she provides primary care; an assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School; and associate director for MGH Center for the Environment and … See Full Bio
View all posts by Wynne Armand, MD


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


Dr. Ashraf Chaudhry
July 16, 2016

In my opinion, cold turkey with strong will power is the best way to stop smoking in 90% cases. However, smokers with weak will power (in 10% cases) can also get the help of medicines. For Muslims, month of Ramadan is the best month to quit smoking when they enjoy strong will power to correct their weaknesses.

July 15, 2016

Wonderful article.
In my opinion, cold turkey is best.

Immigration Consultant
July 12, 2016

Nice Blog

July 11, 2016

the only way to stop smoking is to STOP , thats it !! , one has to break the habit , so intead of getting up from your sleep and having a coffee or tea and a cigarette or breakfast , after arising clean your teeth and shower straight away, and then start your day ,,YES!! of course you will need willpower ,unfortunately you cant buy this the strength of this lies within yourself in just how much you REALLY want to stop smoking , ten days should be enough to break the habit your, daily ritual from awakening ,this is the most important time and also the time when your willpower is at its lowest ,dont replace your habit with E -cigs’ or nicotine patches ,your just shifting one addiction to another , cold turkey is really the best way ,yes you may put weight on ? , but not always the case , to be fat and a non-smoker is far better than being slim and a smoker ,, good luck ,this is my 19th year of being a seriously heavy NON-smoker

July 15, 2016

Totally agree with your view point William

Anaya Sekhawat
July 10, 2016

I have been trying to leave smoking for years now but without a luck. I have already done most of what is written in this place except Varenicline (Chantix) which is unavailable in the place i m currently at.

July 11, 2016

dont stop trying ,you will eventually do it
!! , willpower and the need to REALLY want to stop , is all you need there truly is no substitute to cling on to , its not easy ,breaking the habit ,its a must !!, change your routine especially in the mornings ,dont sit with a ciggy and tea for breakfast , get showered and get out ,if only to get a paper or to get into work a little earlier , 7/10 days and the habit is broken ,the rest is all willpower and determination ,the benefits of not smoking is truly in abundance ,and especially now where the banning of smoking in many public places are on the increase ,good luck ,never give up trying to stop

Wynne Armand
July 11, 2016

I encourage you to not give up. For some people, it can take many attempts to quit before they are successful. The Center of Disease Control estimates on average 8-11 attempts before quitting. A 2016 study in BMJ Open (BMJ Open. 2016; 6(6): e011045) estimates on average 30 or more attempts to quit before successfully quitting for 1 year or more.

Judy Yocum Ruffino
July 8, 2016

How I quit smoking after 15 years with no cravings and no helps, in one day.
I read “You Can Stop”. Instead of making a list of all the helps you can have ( because of course you will suffer and need all the help you can get), the book makes a long list of what happens to you when you quit. I focused on those, ie., my clothes and I no longer smell bad, my curtain will no longer be yellow, same for teeth and bad breath. (Speaks to vanity first.) Secondly, I will feel better, I will have more energy and be able to do a lot of interesting and new things. People will like me better, and more respect for me.

All the details on how I will become short of breath and probably succumb to various and sundry illnesses and disorders down the road didn’t work for me. I didn’t like thinking about those things. Instead, I wanted to think about the nice things that could happen to me tomorrow.

And that is precisely what happened to me. What was the catalyst?

KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Don’t overthink this.

I was in a doctor’s office at Kaiser Permanente, Hayward, CA.
I told him I was having headaches and didn’t want to rely on medication. I would tell myself, ” I don’t have a headache”. He educated me by saying, “That won’t work. The brain is like a computer in that it can’t accept a negative.” (I didn’t even have a computer so how would I know.)

On the way home I stopped for a cup of coffee and my usual cigarette. As I looked at the pack of Marlboro’s, I decided to try a positive statement. (Just for fun.) I settled on, “I feel good without this cigarette.” So then what happened…….

Something happened and I don’t know what it was. I finished my coffee and drove home without the cigarette. I didn’t keep repeating that statement. I just let it be. No additive words, just the simple “I feel good without that cigarette.” There were no cravings but whenever I would even think about a cigarette, I would KISS, and repeat the statement. No elaborations. For whatever reason, I would just go do something, forgetting cigarettes.

There was one other thing I remembered from the book and that was, “One will hurt”. KISS. As long I didn’t have “one”, I was officially a non- smoker. In one day! That was 38 years ago.

So then what happened…… Something happened and I don’t know what it was.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.