• SecondsCount Smoke-Free Success Plan, Step 3: Plan Your Strategies and Your Success

    If you have a plan in place for quitting smoking before you even start, you will give yourself every possible opportunity to succeed. Set a quit date and then gather tools, strategies, resources and as many supportive professionals, friends and family members as you can.

    1. Plan and Track Your Preparations for Quitting

    Use the checklist below as you prepare to quit. Do everything you can do to prepare yourself before you set a reasonable date to quit smoking. The more you can prepare in advance, the easier it will be to get through the first few days after you quit. It will also strengthen your resolve and confidence because you’ll know that you are as prepared as you can possibly be with a plan customized to your needs. The SecondsCount Plan Your Success Checklist may help.

    2. Seek Counseling

    Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you will be more successful if you rely on help in the form of counseling, which has been shown to improve success rates. It doesn’t matter whether you seek counseling in person, or via telephone or computer-based programs. All seem to be more helpful than trying to quit smoking on your own. Repeated visits, calls or chats with a trained counselor (usually a nurse or a therapist) increase long-term smoking cessation rates.

    Start by asking your doctor for smoking cessation information. But keep in mind many doctors’ schedules don’t allow them to spend the time needed to address smoking cessation adequately and regularly with you. You can also ask your doctor for a referral for smoking cessation in-person or group counseling, or go home and get on the phone or computer for equally acceptable (and free) options.
    • In-person counseling usually involves the use of cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as self-monitoring and gradually decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked per day in preparation for the final quit date. Social support is also used to build confidence in the smoker’s ability to quit. The smoker typically sees the counselor weekly for multiple visits, up to one to two months after the quit date to help prevent relapse.
    • Group counseling usually involves short presentations about the quitting process, group interactions, exercises on self-monitoring, a suggested tapering method in preparation for the quit date, development of coping skills and suggestions for relapse prevention.
    • Telephone counseling that provides calls to the smoker initiated by the counselor according to a pre-arranged schedule is the most effective type of telephone counseling. Any smoker in the U.S. can call 1-800-QUITNOW for free proactive telephone counseling. 
    Also check out these Fun Online Tools and Smart Phone Apps to Help You Quit Smoking as well as these Resources for more counseling options.

    3. Consider Medications That Help You Quit Smoking

    Medications can help you stop smoking. There are some that contain low levels of nicotine and others that do not. Both types can help to relieve the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and/or reduce the rewarding feeling you get from smoking. So, if you’re not one of the very few people who can quit “cold turkey” (stopping cigarettes abruptly), then don’t despair! Medications may make it easier to break the habit.

    Although you can buy some medications without a prescription, certain medications may be better for you than others. So, talk to your doctor about which medications may be right for you. Also keep in mind that medications work best to help you quit successfully when they are used along with counseling. Counseling section above That’s because cigarette smoking is both a physical addiction (for most people) and a learned behavior, and counseling can help you change your behaviors for long-term success.

    If you are considering medications, check out SecondsCount’s Guide to Medications That Help You Quit Smoking. It may help you and your doctor decide which medication may be right for you.

    4. Alternative Therapies That May Help

    Some people are able to quit smoking with the help of acupuncture or hypnosis, even though research has not proven they help.  If you find that these alternative therapies help reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, you may be a successful quitter. But if you don’t, keep trying other conventional therapies, such as managing your triggers, counseling, and medications, until you are successful!


    Acupuncture, one of the oldest treatments in history, involves the placement of tiny needles in the body to release feel-good chemicals that could help manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Ask your doctor to refer you to a qualified acupuncturist. Or you may refer to the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for help in finding an acupuncturist.  


    Hypnosis allows you to achieve a mental state of deep, focused relaxation in which you are open to suggestions that could help you change your attitude toward cigarettes. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a qualified hypnotherapist who specializes in smoking cession. Or you may refer to the American Society of Clinical Hypnotists for information on finding a hypnotist.

    Download SecondsCount Smoking Checklist (PDF)

    Things To Do Before I Quit



    Pick the three most important reasons you want to quit (see “Why You Want to Quit” checklist) and remind yourself often.


    Throw away all cigarettes and ash trays at home, work and in the car.


    Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you’re going to quit smoking and you want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out.


    Tell your doctor about your decision and ask for help and support, which may include medication to reduce your cravings and make it easier to quit.


    Fill your prescription for medication or purchase any over-the-counter nicotine replacement products that may be helpful.