Quitting Smoking


By checking out this website you have taken an important step towards quitting smoking. This site offers information about the benefits and methods of quitting, and it presents programs and resources designed to help you create a plan to quit smoking that is right for you.

Benefits of quitting

How ready are you to quit smoking

Creating a quit plan

Methods of quitting smoking

Quitting before or during pregnancy

Benefits of quitting

The list of health risks due to smoking is long, but the benefits of quitting are immediate.

  • 20 minutes after quitting
    Your heart rate drops.
  • 12 hours after quitting
    Carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting
    Your heart attack risk begins to drop. Your lung function begins to improve.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting
    Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year after quitting -
    Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
  • 5 years after quitting 
    Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker's 5-15 years After Quitting.
  • 10 years after quitting
    Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker's. Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting
    Your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker's.

How ready are you to quit smoking?

Health Canada outlines the following stages of change:

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation (not thinking about quitting)

You are not thinking seriously about quitting (for all kinds of reasons) and are not interested in any kind of help.

Stage 2: Contemplation (thinking about quitting but not ready to quit)

During the second stage, you are thinking about quitting sometime within the next six months.

Stage 3: Preparation (getting ready to quit)

You are getting ready for your quit date. You draw on past experiences with quitting to prepare yourself for your quit date in the near future.

Stage 4: Action (quitting)

You have quit recently. You continue to actively work at quitting by using different techniques.

Stage 5: Maintenance (remaining a non-smoker)

This is the last stage. It involves being able to successfully maintain your smoke-free status.

To find out how ready you are to quit, check the Readiness Ruler.

Creating a quit plan

There are many different ways people try to quit smoking such as "cold turkey," self-help materials or group support.

The most effective way to quit smoking is to use a combination of counselling (either group or individual), nicotine replacement therapy and / or pharmacotherapy (medication such as ZybanTM or ChampixTM).

If you are thinking about quitting:

Get ready

  • Set a quit date and stick to it.
  • Make a list of your reasons for quitting.
  • Think about past quit attempts - what worked and what did not work?
  • Understand why you smoke. Monitor your smoking for a few days using a simple tracking sheet. It is a quick and easy way to recognize your smoking "triggers" (that is, activities that you associate with smoking).

Get support and encouragement

  • Tell your family, friends, and co-workers you are quitting.
  • Talk to your health care professional about quitting strategies (e.g., Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Physician, Pharmacist).
  • Find out about quit counselling available in Waterloo Region.
  • Call the Smokers Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or go to the Smokers Helpline online at www.smokershelpline.ca

Smoker's Help Line - Call 1-877-513-5333

Learn new skills and behaviours

When you first try to quit, you will need to change your daily routines (e.g., cut down or try to avoid caffeine and alcohol, stay away from people who are smokers, avoid common hang outs or places you would have smoked). Use this  planning sheet to help you make a plan for avoiding your triggers to smoke.

Decide what activities or things you will do to cope with trigger situations or cravings. Try the 4 "D"s:

  • Drink water.
  • Delay, the craving will pass.
  • Distract yourself by doing something else.
  • Deep breathing techniques (see below).


Deep breathing can be done anytime, anywhere. Deep breathing provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the body to release endorphins, which are naturally occurring hormones that reenergize and promote relaxation. Slowly inhale through your nose, expanding your abdomen before allowing air to fill your lungs. Hold for 4 seconds. Reverse the process as you exhale. Do this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes whenever you feel tense.

Find out if nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is an option for you

Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations

  • If you slip and have a cigarette, don't worry. Refer back to your reasons for quitting and keep at it. Use positive self-talk. You can do it!
  • Plan for withdrawal symptoms. These are signs that your body is becoming healthier. Here is a list of some common withdrawal symptoms and how you can plan to cope with them.
  • Practice the 4 "D"s.
  • Use your experience from previous quit attempts to help you cope with triggers.

Stay connected with your support networks (i.e., Smokers Helpline, a "quit buddy", family and friends).

Methods of quitting smoking

You want to quit. You know that it's not easy to quit, but you also know the benefits are worth the effort. You may have tried more than once. This is normal; most smokers make 3-5 quit attempts before they are successful. Keep trying! There is help out there. Decide what is best for you. This page outlines the many choices available in Waterloo Region.

There are different ways to quit smoking and the choice is yours.

  • Group programs
  • Individual counselling
  • Self-help materials and quitting on your own
  • Other options

Group programs

A group program is designed to be used by a number of individuals. It takes place in a group meeting format and usually has a designated group leader. Group programs are often more successful because of the support and motivation offered by group members.

To find out about group programs in Waterloo Region call Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400.

Individual counselling

Talk to a health care professional, (i.e., Nurse, Pharmacist, Physician), or refer to an Employee Assistance Program about quitting smoking.

Check the yellow pages for names of psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists or health consultants that can help you quit smoking.

Costs will vary. Services may be covered under some insurance plans.

Telephone support - Smokers' Helpline

The Canadian Cancer Society's Smokers' Helpline 1-877-513-5333 provides one-to-one telephone support to help you quit smoking.

Hours of operation:

 Monday - Thursday  8 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST*
 Friday  8 a.m. - 6 p.m. EST*
 Saturday - Sunday  9 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST*

*Make sure to check your time zone.

You will talk directly to a non-judgmental Quit Coach who can help you:

  • Make a personalized quit plan
  • Manage cravings, withdrawal symptoms and stress
  • Learn about quit aids
  • Find local support in your community
  • Receive optional follow up calls throughout your quitting journey

Service is available in English and French, and in Ontario over 100 languages through an interpreter.

Online quit support

Check it out at www.smokershelpline.ca

Smokers' Helpline Online (SHO) can offer tips, tools and support. This interactive online service is free 24/7.

Share your experiences, gain inspiration and support others in the online forums. Once you are registered, you can post to the forums or just read what others are posting. Smokers' Helpline moderators can answer your questions. 

Members can also draw inspiration from the Hall of Fame and Smoke-free Anniversary Celebrations.

Once you register, you can:

  • Receive inspirational emails
  • Make a public pledge to quit
  • Keep a cravings diary
  • Work through helpful exercises tied to the milestones of your quit journey
  • Track your progress with our Quit Meter
  • Private message other members with Quit Buddies messenger

Anyone can access One Step at a Time self-help materials and can find local links to additional support with the Community Services Locator.

Text message support

Sign up for text message support from Smokers' Helpline by texting iQuit to 123456. Provider text message rates may apply.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Other Quit Smoking Medications

Using nicotine replacement therapy can double your chances of quitting smoking. For more information check the Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Other Quit Smoking Medications

Self-help materials

The following organizations provide self-help materials and information on quitting smoking. Information is subject to change.

Details about specific programs should be confirmed with the organization directly.

  • Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400
  • Smokers' Helpline 1-877-513-5333
  • Cancer Information Service 1-888-939-3333
  • Canadian Cancer Society (Waterloo Region) 519-886-8888
  • Lung Association of Ontario 1-800-972-2636
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario 1-888-473-4636
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario (Waterloo Region) 519-571-9600


Canadian Cancer Society

Lung Association

Heart & Stroke Foundation

Centers for Disease Control




Other places

  • So You Want to Quit Smoking
    A guide to what is available in Waterloo Region
  • Family doctors, nurse practitioners and other health professionals.
  • Dental Offices
  • Pharmacists
  • Health Clinics
  • Community Information Centre
  • Community Centres
  • Library (Video and self-help book resources)
  • Smoking Cessation Support Groups
  • Supportive Friends and Family

Other options

Different types of hypnotherapy are used to try and help people quit smoking. Some methods try to weaken people's desire to smoke, strengthen their will to quit or help them concentrate on a quit program.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy, generally using needles to stimulate certain points on the body. Acupuncture is used with the aim of reducing the withdrawal symptoms people experience when trying to quit smoking.

Related therapies include:

  • Acupressure
  • Laser Therapy
  • Electrical Stimulation

At this point in time, there is not enough evidence from good quality research studies to show that hypnotherapy, acupuncture and related therapies can help people trying to quit smoking or increase the number of people who successfully quit smoking.

Quitting before or during pregnancy

If you are thinking of having a baby or are already pregnant and you smoke, you may want to check out www.pregnets.org and the Pre-and post-natal smoking issues site. These Canadian web sites are designed to provide support to women making the decision to quit for their own health and the health of their baby.

Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking Facts for Dads-to-Be

Second-hand Smoke During Pregnancy

Second-hand Smoke and Children