10 Methods to Help You Quit Smoking Naturally
Medically Reviewed by Madeline Hubbard, RN, BSN
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 14% of adults in the United States report smoking cigarettes. Although the harmful health consequences of this habit are well-known, even the most self-disciplined individuals find it difficult to quit smoking due to tobacco and nicotine dependence.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. On average, three out of five people who attempt to quit smoking are successful. Some choose to use medications or chemical replacement therapies, like nicotine gum or patches, while others prefer more natural, chemical-free methods. Overall, success often relies on finding an approach to smoking cessation that feels right for each individual and provides the support they need.
1. Buddy Up
Sometimes quitting smoking with a trusted friend or family member can be helpful and increase one’s level of accountability. In addition to holding you accountable, a loved one can offer support and motivation. Talking with someone who is going through the same efforts to resist the urge to smoke may increase the odds of breaking the habit.
If you prefer to talk with someone you don’t know already, the National Cancer Institute runs a toll-free phone line that provides supportive counseling, advice on quitting, and other state-dependent resources. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) for more information.
2. Avoid Triggers
Smoking often becomes part of a daily routine. For example, if you smoke a cigarette with your coffee each morning then the craving will be strong at that time. When possible, avoid situations or places that trigger urges to smoke, or consider finding alternative activities to replace daily rituals. Try cutting back on certain foods or beverages that you associate with smoking, like fried food, coffee or alcohol. Urges to smoke typically last 5-10 minutes, so creating short-term distractions may be effective as well.
3. Attend a 12-Step Program
Similar to other types of 12-step programs, Nicotine Anonymous is a support program that offers regular meetings, tips and suggestions on how to stop depending on nicotine. Becoming part of a group that shares a common goal can be motivating and provide the needed support to deal with the challenges of quitting. Find your local chapter on the Nicotine Anonymous website.
4. Lean Into Stress-Reduction Techniques
Many people smoke cigarettes as a response to stress. When they try to quit, withdrawals can cause more stress, which prevents quitting, and the cycle continues. Learning different methods to cope with stress can help reduce your desire to smoke. Lower stress may equal less smoking. Stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation, may also make it easier to deal with side effects from quitting.
5. Try Behavior Therapy
Several types of behavioral therapy are available to help people change various unwanted behaviors, including smoking. Instead of reaching for a cigarette, participants might learn alternative ways to manage stress, or change patterns that typically lead to smoking. Those trying this method to stop smoking should be aware that it may take several months of therapy to learn new behaviors.
6. Take Herbal Remedies
Although additional research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of herbal supplements for smoking cessation, certain remedies may be helpful for some people. Herbs such as valerian, St. John’s Wort, or ginseng are believed to reduce anxiety and nervousness, both of which are likely to occur when trying to stop smoking. By reducing anxiety and tension, these herbs may help you to cope better with withdrawals. Be sure to communicate with a healthcare professional to discuss possible interactions with any current medications before starting an herbal supplement.
Physical activity like walking, biking, or jogging, can provide a necessary distraction from tobacco cravings. Exercise can help support ongoing respiratory health as well, but be sure to increase your activity level carefully and notify a healthcare professional immediately if you experience any difficulty breathing or chest pain with activity.
8. Use Technology
Modern technology can play a role in helping you reduce or stop smoking. For example, online support groups and forums can be helpful in providing tips and answering questions about smoking cessation methods. There are also smoking cessation apps that may help some people reach their goals. Not only do these apps “game-ify” the quitting process by tracking their progress and calculating how much they’re saving without buying cigarettes, but they also provide tips for quitting.
9. Go for an Acupuncture Session
Acupuncture has been used for several centuries to treat various conditions, from anxiety to chronic pain. Needles are inserted by professionals into specific points in the body in order to have a therapeutic effect. Acupuncture is meant to address addiction by promoting relaxation and improving mood, which may also make it easier to manage withdrawals.
10. Try Hypnosis
Hypnosis may work as a natural smoking cessation method by helping someone achieve a deep state of relaxation. In this state, it is theorized that people may be more susceptible to behavioral changes. Suggestions may be made to associate smoking with something unpleasant, such as a bad taste or smell, or subconscious motivation may be identified and addressed. Keep in mind: not everyone is able to be hypnotized, but it may be a viable option for some folks looking to reduce their urge to smoke.
Natural methods maybe be used on their own or combined with other methods, including medication or nicotine patches. Whichever method(s) you choose to help you quit smoking, it’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider about your goals and approaches. Remember to set a date to quit on — and commit to the process. No matter your resources or methodology, quitting any addiction is challenging, so be patient with yourself.
- “Quitting Smoking With Complementary Health Approaches: What You Need To Know” via National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
- “Smoking Cessation: Fast Facts” via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- “CBT Therapy for Tobacco Dependence” via Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
- “Alternative Therapies to Reduce Dependence” via Swedish.org
- Find a Meeting via Nicotine Anonymous
- “Help for Cravings and Tough Situations While You’re Quitting Tobacco” via American Cancer Society
- “Acupuncture for smoking cessation: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 randomized controlled trials” via Tobacco Induced Diseases, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- “Quit Smoking” via Mayo Clinic
- “Smoking Cessation Treatments: Current Psychological and Pharmacological Options” via Revista de Investigacion Clinica
- “Cognitive-behavioral treatment with behavioral activation for smoking cessation: Randomized controlled trial” via Plos One, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about 1-800-QUIT-NOW and the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines” via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)