Young woman trying to go cold turkey in order to stop smoking

You’ve started your quit journey, and have put out your last cigarette (or are preparing to do so). You’ve even bought your nicotine replacement therapy patches from the pharmacy.

Great job! Now you just need to ride out and tahan (withstand) the occasional craving and nicotine withdrawal — you’re prepared for that too, with your arsenal of 4Ds and coping techniques.

How to Prevent a Smoking Relapse

For this final stretch, here are some tips to help you kick the smoking habit, avoid relapse and level up from “quitter” to “ex-smoker”.

Always Remind Yourself Why You Quit

Every day, remind yourself why you quit. This will help you stay focused on the goals, and keep you motivated when you feel the urge to light up.

Write down your reasons on sticky notes and paste them all over your house and office, on your mirror, fridge, wardrobe, laptop... items you see daily.

Slip a note into your wallet too, as a quick reminder whenever the urge to smoke rises and you reach for a pack of smokes at the convenience store counter.

Buddy Up

On your quit journey, support from loved ones is important. Your family members and your friends are the people who’ll cheer you on, keep you motivated when you’re facing obstacles, and celebrate the small wins with you.

Find someone who’ll quit smoking with you so you can motivate and support each other and celebrate the milestones. You can also join a smoking cessation programme or look for support groups to keep you company on your journey.

Or have some non-smoker buddies help you along your journey: find an exercise kaki, a friend who’ll provide a listening ear and offer encouragement, and another friend who’ll be understanding and patient when you’re feeling cranky and moody. If you experience weight gain, get a friend who will be supportive and comforting.

Celebrate Small Successes

Reward yourself for the small wins (you deserve it!). Celebrate milestones like your first day without cigarettes, then your first week, then your first month...

Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • Get a massage.

  • Catch a movie with friends.

  • Enjoy a staycation using the money you saved.

  • Share your good news and treat your family and friends to a good meal.

  • Buy yourself a nice present.

Dump the Bad, Keep the Good

Continue to avoid your smoking triggers: this gets easier with practice — soon, you won’t even need to make a conscious effort!

For example, keep staying away from smoking areas and events that might lead to smoking.

Spend time in shopping centres, indoor eateries, and museums, where you wouldn’t be tempted to start smoking again. When heading outdoors, go to areas where smoking is prohibited, like reservoirs and neighbourhood town parks.

And don’t forget to keep up the good habits like exercise, deep breathing, and snacking healthy. These not only help you stay smoke-free but also improve your overall wellbeing.

What If You Slip Up or Relapse?

Staying smoke-free can be tough. What happens if you slip or relapse? If you do slip up and smoke a cigarette, stay calm and don’t blame yourself or dwell on it.

Not everyone will be able to give up smoking on their first few tries, especially when you’re trying to quit cold turkey after smoking regularly for so many years. Some relapse after 3 months, others after just a month or a few weeks.

Move on and apply the techniques — delay, deep breath, drink water and distract yourself — to beat those cravings. Learn from the experience and restart your engines: you will get there and stop smoking for good!

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit 28-Day Countdown now! Call QuitLine at 1800 438 2000 for support, and visit participating retail pharmacies for advice and products—such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)—that can help you quit.


Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

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