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Deciding When It’s Time to Quit Smoking

Thinking about quitting smoking

​​​​​​​​​​​​​You smoke or use other forms of tobacco because there are things about it that you like. But there are probably things you don’t like about it. You’ve probably thought about quitting at least once. Maybe you're asking yourself if you're ready to quit.

If you aren’t sure if you’re ready to quit, try the online tool Readiness to Quit Smoking. It’s based on research about how people change their behaviour. The tool can help you know if you’re ready to quit, thinking about it, or not ready to make a change yet. It can also give you tips on what to do next based on where you are.

Think about why you smoke

Smoking is something you probably enjoy and have been doing for a while. Knowing your triggers (the activities or times that make you want to smoke) and what you like about smoking can help you be more aware of your habits. Being more aware can help you make a quit plan.

It’s also important to think about how you feel about your smoking. One thing to try is mindful smoking (video). It helps you separate smoking from other activities you ​​enjoy. Mindful smoking gets rid of distractions. This gives you time to think about why you smoke and work toward making changes.

Choose a good time to quit

It might be hard to imagine life without tobacco because it has helped you get through tough times. So it’s important to choose a time to quit that’s good for you.

When deciding on a good time to quit, think about your personal and work life, and if anything stressful is coming up​. For example, if you have a big wedding on Saturday and you typically smoke with the people who will be there, you could plan to quit after the wedding.

Use for tips and tricks on finding a good time to quit and making a quit plan that’s right for you.

Find your reasons to quit smoking

Knowing your values can help you know why quitting is important for you. For example, if you value family, then living longer for your family is a good reason to quit smoking. Think about your values and how they relate to your quit plan. Some common values for people wanting to quit are:

  • family and friends
  • independence (being free from your tobacco habit)
  • money
  • health
  • job

After you think about your values, make a list of reasons to quit smoking. Use your reasons to help you stick to your quit plan.

Get ready to quit

Even if you’re not ready to quit tobacco now, you can do things to get ready to quit later, when you are ready.

Track your tobacco use

Start tracking the following every time you use tobacco:

  • the time
  • how strong your craving is
  • your mood
  • what triggered you to smoke

Tracking your tobacco use can make you more aware of your habit. You can print a free tobacco tracker (pdf). Or you can use a tobacco tracker app on your mobile device.

Lower the health risks

You may not be fully ready to give up smoking or using tobacco. But there are some steps you can take to lower the health risks and improve your health. Talk to your healthcare provider or counsellor to learn more.

Note: References to “tobacco” on this page do not include "traditional tobacco" used by First Nations and Métis groups for ceremonial purposes.​

Current as of: February 8, 2024

Author: Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis Program, Alberta Health Services