Kicking the Smoking Habit

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best changes you can make for your heart and your overall health. Your risk of heart attack goes down within one day of putting out that last cigarette. As you go longer without smoking, your risk goes down even more. Quitting isn’t easy, but millions of people have done it. You can, too. It’s never too late to quit.

Getting started

Boost your chances of success by deciding on your “quit plan.” Your health care provider and cardiac rehab team can help you develop this plan. Even if you’ve already quit, it’s easy to slip back into smoking.  Your plan can help you avoid and recover from relapse.  In any case, start by setting a date to quit within a month, and do it.

Woman in provider's office. Provider is showing her a nicotine replacement patch.

Keys to your quit plan

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about prescription medicines and nicotine replacement products that help stop the urge to smoke. 

  • Join a support group or quit smoking program. Talking with others about the challenges of quitting can help you get through them.

  • Ask other smokers in your household to quit with you.

  • Look for the cues in your life that you associate with smoking and avoid them.

Track your triggers

What gives you that “I-need-a-cigarette” feeling? List all the situations that make you want a cigarette. Then think of other ways to deal with these situations. Here are some examples:


How I'll handle it

Finishing a meal

Get up from the table and take a walk

Having an argument

Find a quiet place and breathe deeply

Feeling lonely or bored

Call a friend to talk



Tips for quitting successfully

  • List the benefits of quitting such as reducing heart risks and saving money. Keep this list and review it whenever you feel like smoking.

  • Get support. Let your friends know you may call them to chat when you have an urge to smoke.

  • If you’ve tried to quit before without success, this time avoid the triggers that may cause the relapse.

  • Make the most of slip-ups. Try to learn from them, and then get back on track.

  • Be accountable to your friends and your calendar so that you stay on track.

For family and friends

  • Be supportive and patient. Quitting smoking can be difficult and stressful.

  • If you smoke, now’s a great time to quit. Even if you don’t quit, never smoke around your loved one. Secondhand smoke is dangerous to his or her heart.

  • The best goals are accomplished in teams. Remember that when your loved one states he or she wants to stop smoking.