Quit with Confidence: After you quit

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Your quit day


Today is the first day of your healthier, smoke-free life. Celebrate your decision to quit and be proud as it is one of the best choices you can make! You've worked hard to get here.

Quitting may be challenging over the next few days. Make it easier by taking some time for yourself. After all, you deserve it! Walk away from situations that give you the urge to smoke or make you feel anxious and avoid places where you might see or smell cigarettes. Continue to think positively and be kind to yourself.

Coping with withdrawal

Soon after you quit, your body will continue to crave nicotine and you will most likely experience some symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

You may have thoughts about having "just one" but do your best to resist. Keep your hands, mouth, and mind busy, and remember to review your list of coping strategies. If you are concerned about any of your withdrawal symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider.

Symptoms of withdrawal appear within one to two days, peak in the first week and last about 2-4 weeks.Endnote 1 Endnote 2 Learn to recognize and work through them. Withdrawal is a big part of the quitting process, but it is temporary, while the benefits of becoming smoke-free will be with you for life.

Stay focused and be positive

Recognize your feelings

Acknowledge that cigarettes were a part of your life and that it is normal to miss them. This stage will pass too; just keep reminding yourself how important being smoke-free is to you. However, if you feel sad or depressed and those feelings don't go away within three weeks of your quit date, discuss these feelings with your healthcare provider.

Tips to stay focused

Every day without cigarettes is a step towards being smoke-free. So, every day for the next month:

  • Remember that you do not smoke. Make this your first and last conscious thought of the day.
  • Remind yourself that you do not smoke every time you see someone with a cigarette.
  • Review your reasons for quitting, solutions to your concerns, and strategies for coping with urges and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • Manage your environment and do your best to avoid situations, people and things that make you want to smoke.
  • Remind yourself of the health, economical, and social benefits of quitting smoking.
  • Go for walks. Focus on breathing clean, smoke-free air.

Be proud of yourself

Continue to think positively about the change you have made. If you feel symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, remind yourself that this is normal, and that it can take time to heal.

Remember, every day, week, and month without cigarettes is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Think of a few things you enjoy to reward yourself for staying smoke-free. Rewards are important motivational tools and can be anything that makes you feel good. Here are some examples:

  • Talk to an old friend on the phone
  • Plan a get-together
  • Go see a movie or go out for a meal
  • Buy flowers
  • Take the night off from studying
  • Put the money you save from not buying cigarettes away. Add to it every day and watch these savings grow

Reflection Activity

Regaining control if you "slip" or relapse

A slip can be when you have one puff or even a whole cigarette. This does not mean you will begin smoking regularly again; however, it is important to restart quitting right away. Try these tips to help you regain control.

Regain control of the situation

  • Stop smoking immediately.
  • If you bought cigarettes, throw them out.
  • Never test yourself. Remove all lighters and ashtrays from your smoke-free space.

Be kind to yourself

  • Remind yourself how far you have come, not how far you have to go.
  • Encourage yourself not to give up.

Take action

  • Change the feeling in your mouth - chew gum, drink water or brush your teeth.
  • Ask for support. Talk to a friend, family member or trained quit coach.
  • Modify your quit plan by reflecting on strategies that didn't work for you and building on what helped you.
  • If you feel at risk of relapsing to smoking, connect with your provincial and territorial quit smoking service toll-free at 1-866-366-3667 or talk to your healthcare provider.

Reflection Activity

If you slip, do not get discouraged. This is just a temporary setback. It can take several attempts to quit smoking successfully. Footnote 3 Use your slip as an opportunity to reflect and learn and remember how far you have come. Just keep working on it!

Answer the following questions to understand what happened and how to get you back on track:

Dealing with relapse

A relapse means you have gone back to smoking regularly. This can be frustrating, especially if you have been smoke-free for a while. You may be feeling down or upset. It's important to acknowledge your feelings. Be kind to yourself.

Reflect on what made you start smoking again – it may have been because of stress from work or school, a social situation or weight gain. Whatever the reason, think about how you will avoid this situation in the future.

Don't give up! Remember that you did it once and you can do it again. Remind yourself of your reasons to quit and review sections deciding to quit and how to quit. When you're ready, set a new quit date.

Mental health

Understandably, quitting smoking can be a stressful process. The prospect of dealing with withdrawal symptoms, fear of returning to smoking after quitting, and having to change your routine can feel overwhelming.

However, once your withdrawal symptoms have been managed, quitting smoking can actually improve your mental health. Quitting has been associated with a decrease in depression, anxiety, and stress as well as an increase in positive mood and quality of life.Endnote 4

The causes of stress and anxiety are different for everyone and can add up over time. It's important to take some time to learn about the stressors in your life. Here are some positive ways to handle these feelings and improve your mental health.


  • Learn what to expect when you quit smoking to help you increase your self-confidence and reduce your stress levels. Think about the skills you've learned so far to help you overcome challenges and build confidence.
  • Focus on your breathing and try meditating to help you relax. Enjoy the stillness and peace of mind.
  • Visualize a place where you feel calm and safe. Be specific - think about what you might smell, see, feel, or hear.
  • Deal with stressful situations by finding someone who you can talk to and discuss solutions with. Remember, you are not alone.
  • Make some time for yourself every day to relax and do activities you enjoy.
  • Become more physically active. Stretching, walking, exercising, and doing yoga cause the body to release natural calming chemicals (beta-endorphin). Endnote 5 Endnote 6
  • Be patient with yourself. Accept that it will take time and practice to manage these feelings.

If you need help managing your mental health, or talk to your healthcare provider.

Pursuing a balanced lifestyle

Now that you are on your way to a healthier, smoke-free life, you may be feeling motivated to make other lifestyle changes to improve your overall health and well-being. Here are some strategies to help you pursue a more balanced lifestyle.

After you quit, you may have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. This is a symptom of withdrawal and will pass. Develop a sleep routine and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If sleep issues persist, speak to a healthcare provider.
Physical activity
Being physically active can help you manage stress, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve your sleep as well as your quality of life. Endnote 7 Endnote 8 Engage in daily movement in ways that feel good to you, like walking or biking. For more ideas visit Physical Activity Tips for Adults.
Weight gain
One of the common concerns with quitting smoking is weight gain. When you quit, you may experience an increase in appetite. Endnote 9 Endnote 10 Create healthy habits while coping with your cravings, like preparing nutritious snacks and having those readily available.
You may have some nutrition-related concerns. Meal timing, nutritional balance of meals, food preferences, access to food, and ability to cook are all factors that will impact nutrition. Try to make water your drink of choice and consume a balanced diet with foods that are rich in nutrients and vitamins to give you more energy and lower your risk of health problems. For additional tips see Canada's Food Guide.
For some people, alcohol can be a trigger to smoking. If you want to stop or reduce your alcohol intake while quitting, develop a plan for how to say "no" when other people are drinking around you.

Tips for staying quit

Now that you have quit, it's important to stay quit. Use the knowledge, skills and confidence that you have built throughout this process to help you stay smoke-free. Keep this resource handy and whenever you catch yourself craving a cigarette try to refocus your thoughts. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Count on your friends and family to help motivate you. Support can make a really big difference in your success!
  • Reward yourself and celebrate wins, both big and small.
  • Be self-aware. To increase your chances of quitting for good, pay attention to what you say to yourself. If it is negative, silently say "STOP," and then replace it with positive thoughts.
  • Review what you have learned and accomplished. Doing this will help you feel good about your decision to quit and reinforce your motivation to follow through.
  • Remind yourself of the positive things you have experienced since you quit.
  • Be prepared. Cravings and triggers may pop up. Keep your list of coping strategies handy to help you manage them and remain smoke-free.

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Endnote 1

McLaughlin, I., Dani, J. A., & De Biasi, M. (2015). Nicotine withdrawal. Current topics in behavioral neurosciences ,  24 , 99–123. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-13482-6_4

Return to endnote 1 referrer

Endnote 2

Hughes J. R. (2007). Effects of abstinence from tobacco: valid symptoms and time course.  Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco ,  9 (3), 315–327. https://doi.org/10.1080/14622200701188919

Return to endnote 2 referrer

Endnote 3

Chaiton, M., Diemert, L., Cohen, J. E., Bondy, S. J., Selby, P., Philipneri, A., & Schwartz, R. (2016). Estimating the number of quit attempts it takes to quit smoking successfully in a longitudinal cohort of smokers.  BMJ open ,  6 (6), e011045. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011045

Return to endnote 3 referrer

Endnote 4

Taylor, G., McNeill, A., Girling, A., Farley, A., Lindson-Hawley, N., & Aveyard, P. (2014). Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis.  BMJ (Clinical research ed.) ,  348 , g1151. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1151

Return to endnote 4 referrer

Endnote 5

Goldfarb, A. H., & Jamurtas, A. Z. (1997). Beta-endorphin response to exercise. An update.  Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) ,  24 (1), 8–16. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199724010-00002

Return to endnote 5 referrer

Endnote 6

Mariotti A. (2015). The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication.  Future science OA ,  1 (3), FSO23. https://doi.org/10.4155/fso.15.21

Return to endnote 6 referrer

Endnote 7

Bull, F. C., Al-Ansari, S. S., Biddle, S., Borodulin, K., Buman, M. P., Cardon, G., Carty, C., Chaput, J. P., Chastin, S., Chou, R., Dempsey, P. C., DiPietro, L., Ekelund, U., Firth, J., Friedenreich, C. M., Garcia, L., Gichu, M., Jago, R., Katzmarzyk, P. T., Lambert, E., … Willumsen, J. F. (2020). World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour.  British journal of sports medicine ,  54 (24), 1451–1462. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2020-102955

Return to endnote 7 referrer

Endnote 8

Canadian Society for Exercise Phsyiology. (2021). Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults 18-24 Years. Ottawa, ON. https://csepguidelines.ca/guidelines/adults-18-64/

Return to endnote 8 referrer

Endnote 9

Kmetova, A., Kralikova, E., Stepankova, L., Zvolska, K., Blaha, M., Sticha, M., Bortlicek, Z., Schroeder, D. R., & Croghan, I. T. (2014). Factors associated with weight changes in successful quitters participating in a smoking cessation program.  Addictive behaviors ,  39 (1), 239–245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.10.010

Return to endnote 9 referrer

Endnote 10

Aubin, H. J., Farley, A., Lycett, D., Lahmek, P., & Aveyard, P. (2012). Weight gain in smokers after quitting cigarettes: meta-analysis.  BMJ (Clinical research ed.) ,  345 , e4439. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4439

Return to endnote 10 referrer

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