What You Should Know About Quitting Cigarette or Tobacco Use: A 5-Step Approach 


The decision to stop smoking or using tobacco can be very difficult for most tobacco users because of the habit-forming nature that tobacco use entails. The choice to stop using tobacco can be life-altering and affirming at the same time. This is because smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products is dangerous to one’s immediate and long-term health.

Quit Smoking: A 5-step approach

Below are 5 steps to consider in the journey toward tobacco cessation.

Why You Should Quit Smoking/Using Tobacco Products

It helps to know the benefits of quitting and why you need to quit. If you are pregnant, the health and well-being of your unborn child is a key deciding factor that prompts most pregnant women to stop tobacco use.

11 Benefits of Being Tobacco Free

  1. Improves mental health
  2. Increases chances of quitting illicit drug or alcohol use and maintaining sobriety
  3. Improves lung and heart health
  4. Reduces respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis and pneumonia
  5. Lowers risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  6. Protects bone health
  7. Reduces the risk of cancer
  8. Reduces the risk of painful and irregular periods
  9. Protects your family from exposure to secondhand smoking
  10. Saves you money
  11. Feel healthier, look healthier and smell better

5 Benefits of Being Tobacco-Free for the Unborn Child

  1. Promotes healthier brain development.
  2. Lowers risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  3. Lowers risk of premature birth or being born with health complications
  4. Fewer coughs, colds and ear infections
  5. Lower risk of asthma
number two

Make the decision, and take steps to quit smoking.

There is a lot of reluctance towards committing to stop tobacco use. Reaching the decision to quit may require the help of others (family, friends, and health care providers). Be open to such inputs from others as it forms your support system on your journey to tobacco cessation. Once a decision is reached to stop, you should engage in efforts that promote quitting like:

Speak to family & friends about quitting smoking/tobacco use.

Inform your family and friends of your plan to quit smoking or using tobacco.

Speak to your healthcare provider about quitting smoking/tobacco use.

Inform your healthcare provider and discuss options for nicotine replacement therapies or other medications.

Consider enrolling in the North Carolina free Quit program.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers free nicotine replacement therapies and counseling to all North Carolina residents through the NC Quitline.

People who use the NC Quitline are twice more likely to be successful at quitting tobacco use. Here are 4 ways to enroll with the NC Quitline:

  1. Text READY to 200-400.
  2. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  3. Visit
  4. Ask your healthcare provider or counselor to enroll you with the Quitline.
Set your quit date.

Allow yourself time to prepare and get ready to quit but do not postpone it for too long.

Create your quit plan to include why you need to quit, triggers, ways to manage cravings, support, and resources to help you to be successful.

number three

Get medical help (including medications).

Because tobacco use is habit-forming, some people may have become psychologically dependent on tobacco use. While there are successful stories of people who have quit tobacco use by themselves, know that you do not have to do it alone.

Getting help from your healthcare provider will increase your chances of being successful with quitting. Here are some medications your healthcare provider can prescribe for you to help your body adjust to nicotine withdrawals:

number four

Manage your quit date.

Your first day without tobacco may be difficult. Here are some things you can do to keep you on track.

Stick to your plan.

Take another look at your quit plan to help you stay focused and motivated to quit and stay quit.

Get support.

Stay busy.

Staying busy is a great way to remain tobacco-free, especially on your quit day. Try some of these activities to keep your mind off using tobacco and distract you from cravings:

Avoid smoking triggers.

Triggers can be people, places, things, and situations that arouse your craving to use tobacco.

Stay positive.

Keep a positive attitude and focus on one minute, one hour and one day at a time. Reward yourself for being smoke-free.

Manage difficult situations and avoid relapses.

The average person attempting to stop tobacco use may experience multiple relapses. You can prevent relapses by practicing the effective strategies in step 4 above that helped you get through your quit day.

Even if you fail to quit using tobacco after your first, second or third attempts, cutting down the amount you use is the right step in the right direction.

*Beginning December 1, 2022, SouthLight will become a tobacco-free campus. This is a state mandate in order to comply with the Breathe Easy NC program.

Chinyere Chima

Chinyere Chima

Chinyere Chima is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) in the Psychiatric and Office Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT) department at SouthLight Healthcare Clinic. She provides patient-centered mental health and opioid treatment.