Quitting methods

There are many different ways you can quit smoking and vaping. Learn about the different methods and work out which ones might work best for you.

There are lots of options to help you quit smoking or vaping. We are still learning about the most effective ways to quit vaping, but there is a lot of evidence about breaking nicotine addiction from other products. Which methods you choose to help you quit may depend on what your triggers are.

Going cold turkey

Giving up smoking or vaping suddenly, with no outside help or support, is known as going 'cold turkey'. People who use this method rely on their own willpower to get them through the cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

While quitting cold turkey may not work for everybody, many smokers quit smoking this way. People have also successfully quit vaping cold turkey.

If you want to try it, you'll have a better chance of success if you:

  • avoid situations that will trigger a desire to smoke or vape
  • distract yourself with new activities
  • get support from family and friends
  • focus on the benefits of not smoking or vaping.

Gradually cutting down

This method involves slowly reducing the number of cigarettes or the amount you vape (or use e-cigarettes), until you've quit completely. It may not be as effective as quitting straight away, but it might be a good place to start if you're not ready to quit right now.

You can cut down by:

  • slowly increasing the time between smoking a cigarette or vaping
  • reducing the number of cigarettes in your packet each day
  • leaving your vape at home when you go out.

It's a good idea to set a date to quit smoking or vaping completely and work towards that. Evidence shows that even light smoking poses serious health risks, including cancer, and vaping is not safe. Read more about cutting down to quit.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

NRT aims to reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop smoking or vaping. Used properly, NRT can make a big difference in helping you quit successfully.

NRTs are available from pharmacies and some supermarkets, without a prescription, and come in different forms:

  • patches
  • gum
  • oral sprays
  • inhalers
  • lozenges or tablets.

How NRT helps

By providing small, measured doses of nicotine into the bloodstream, you are:

  • reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms
  • not getting the harmful chemicals from tobacco smoke or e-cigarette vapour.

Reducing physical withdrawal symptoms means you can focus on the situations and emotions that can trigger a desire to smoke or vape.

Did you know?

For people who want to quit smoking, combining 2 forms of NRT works better than using a single method because they work in different ways. For example:

  • a patch releases nicotine slowly, giving you a steady dose of nicotine
  • a gum or spray releases nicotine more quickly, helping deal with sudden cravings.

Combining 2 forms of NRT may also assist people who want to quit vaping.

Is it subsidised through the PBS?

Some NRTs are available at a reduced price through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for all eligible Australians (including concession card holders). Your doctor will need to give you a prescription so take the opportunity to talk about which products will work best for you.

Find out more about PBS-subsidised prescriptions for NRTs to help quit vaping.

Other prescription medications

There are other prescription medicines, available through the PBS, that can reduce withdrawal symptoms, including bupropion and varenicline. They work by blocking the nicotine receptors in your brain, so smoking is less enjoyable.

We are still learning about how these medicines might be able to help people who want to quit vaping. Some early research shows they may have a positive effect for adults.

Whether you are smoking, vaping, or both, these medicines are not suitable for everybody. Talk to your doctor or health professional to find out whether they're right for you. There are limits on how many PBS prescriptions you can have in a year, and you may be required to receive support from Quitline or a health professional while you're quitting.

First Nations people are eligible for extra help to quit through the PBS.

Help and support to quit smoking and vaping

Other services you may find helpful include:

  • advice from your doctor or health professional
  • the Quitline – call 137 848 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, to talk to a counsellor or ask for a callback
  • My QuitBuddy is a free mobile phone app designed to support and encourage you to quit smoking. The app is being updated to help people who want to quit vaping. It lets you set personal goals, track your progress and see how much money you've saved. Alerts and other messages help keep you on track and support is available from the many other people using the app.
  • QuitCoach – an online tool that asks questions about your smoking habits and lifestyle. Using that information it creates a quit plan tailored for you

Using e-cigarettes to quit smoking

If you are wondering whether e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking, your first step is to speak with your doctor. They can provide advice about suitable options to help you quit smoking. We don’t yet know enough about the safety of e-cigarettes and they are not considered a   first line treatment to quit smoking. There are other products to help you quit smoking that are effective and have lower health risks. .

The Australian Government is introducing new e-cigarette regulations in 2024. You will still be able to get prescriptions to access e-cigarettes from a pharmacy as a quit smoking tool and to manage nicotine dependence. Find out more on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

Alternative methods

Other alternative methods that some people try include:

  • hypnotherapy
  • acupuncture.

There is no clear evidence so far to show how much these kinds of methods will help you to quit smoking or vaping.

Methods not recommended

Other methods that people think will help them quit smoking or vaping include:

  • switching to lower nicotine and tar cigarettes
  • using filters and filter blocking products
  • switching to cigarettes or other forms of tobacco to help you quit vaping.

There is no evidence that any of these methods will, help you to quit smoking or vaping, and they will not reduce your risk of smoking-related diseases.

Find out why there are no safe smoking options.

Next step

Once you've decided what you think will work for you, you're ready to make a quit plan and start your journey to a smoke- and vape-free, healthier life.

Date last updated:

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