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Deciding When It’s Time to Quit Smoking

I am thinking about quitting smoking

When you are just starting to think about quitting smoking or other forms of tobacco, or you’re not sure if you are ready to quit, it can be frustrating when people don’t understand. But remember that when people ask you to quit, they’re really telling you they care about your health.

You use tobacco because there are things about it that you like. But there are probably things you don’t like about it either. In fact, you’ve probably thought about quitting at least once. The question is: Are you ready to quit tobacco?

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

Using tobacco is something you probably enjoy. It’s likely something you 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 tobacco habits. Being more aware can help you make a quit plan.

When you’re becoming more aware of your tobacco habits, 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 in your life that you enjoy. Mindful smoking gets rid of distractions and 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 what’s going on in your personal and work life, and anything stressful that might be happening. For example, if you have a big wedding on Saturday and you typically smoke socially with the people who will be there, you might want to 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

You have your own reasons to quit smoking, which are likely tied to your values. Knowing your values can help you find your reasons for why quitting is important for you. For example, if you value family, then being around longer for your family is a good reason to quit smoking. This reason can help you to stick to your quit plan. What are your values and how do 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 to stick to your quit plan.

Get ready to quit tobacco

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. has a free tobacco tracker (pdf) that you can print. Or you can use a tobacco tracker app on your mobile device.

Not ready?

You may not be fully ready to give up smoking or using tobacco. But there are some steps you can take to reduce the harm and improve your health. For more information about how to reduce your harm, talk to your healthcare provider or local counsellor.

Note: References to “tobacco” on this page do not include tobacco that is used for traditional and sacred reasons.​

Current as of: August 13, 2020

Author: Tobacco Reduction Program, Alberta Health Services