On your journey to being smoke-free, you may encounter obstacles such as cravings and withdrawal symptoms, like coughing more or feeling cranky.

Don’t worry, cravings and withdrawal symptoms are signs that your body is recovering and getting rid of the nicotine. Like spring-cleaning, clearing out all that junk will take time and effort, but the results will be worth it!

Knowing and preparing for these withdrawal symptoms will make them easier to overcome, so let’s look at some challenges you might face on your quit journey.

The Challenges


As your body clears out the nicotine, you’ll feel a strong urge to replenish it. Believe it or not, nicotine can be as addictive as cocaine and heroin, so don’t be harsh on yourself for craving a cigarette.

Besides, you can use the 4Ds to deal with cravings:

  • Distract yourself (Sudoku, word puzzles, mobile games)

  • Practise deep breathing

  • Delay lighting up

  • Drink water, tea, or milk slowly

Withdrawal Symptoms

You may also experience withdrawal symptoms as your brain adjusts to a nicotine-free life. Hang in there! Symptoms are at their worst during the first week of quitting, and usually go away after two to three weeks.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Quick Quit Tips

Feeling irritable.

Watch a funny YouTube video or do some deep breathing exercises.

Feeling tired.

Take a 5-minute power nap and ensure that you get enough rest.

Having headaches.

Treat yourself to a head and shoulder massage to alleviate the pain.

Having difficulty concentrating.

Do some light stretching.


Sip warm water or suck on sugar-free cough drops.

Feeling hungry or thirsty between meals.

Snack on fruits and keep hydrated by drinking plain water!.

If you find that your withdrawal symptoms unbearable, consider tapping onto nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) which increases the chances of quitting by easing these withdrawal symptoms. NRT supplies nicotine to the body to replace the nicotine from cigarettes and to help reduce nicotine cravings when quitting. The amount of nicotine supplied is slowly reduced over time to decrease dependency and help you quit smoking. Consult a pharmacist or doctor to find out more.

Daily Stresses

Smoking might have been your go-to “chill pill” for stressful situations — now, let’s identify other healthier ways to calm down when you’re feeling kan cheong.

For example, you could cope with stress by talking to loved ones, going for a walk, or joining a workout at your nearest Health Promoting Mall, like piloxing at AMK Hub or Zumba at NEX.

Good Things Come to Those Who Quit

The journey to being smoke-free might be tough, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Stay positive by reminding yourself of why you’re doing this.

Health-wise, quitting lowers your risk of getting diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

You’ll also feel better and have more energy to do the things you love. No more huffing and puffing from climbing that flight of stairs!

Your wallet will be heavier, too: within a year of quitting, you could save enough for a short holiday.

Slip-up, Not Gone-case

Sometimes on your journey to being smoke-free, slip-ups may occur and you may find yourself lighting up.

Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t be discouraged! These things happen, and many people need more than one attempt before they can quit successfully.

Figuring out what caused the slip-up can increase your chances of success: maybe you need a different quit method or more help dealing with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You could identify the triggers and come up with concrete steps to avoid them.

Learn from the experience, refocus, and restart your quit journey. You can do it!

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit Programme and remain smoke free for 28 days and you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking. You can nominate your loved ones as a supporter when you sign up for the programme. Validate your smoke-free status and redeem a HPB eVoucher* worth $50 at the 28th day milestone. Keep going and you'll also receive eVouchers* worth $30 and $20 at the 3rd month and 6th month milestone respectively!

*Terms and conditions apply.

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