The First 2 Weeks

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Preparing To Quit
Quitting Therapies
The First 2 Weeks
Staying smokefree
How to avoid weight gain
Sources of Support               

Getting through the first 2 weeks


1.  Getting around your urge to smoke

2.  Other Quitting Tips & Hints

3.  The Truth About Nicotine Withdrawal

4.  Quitting: the immediate benefits



1.  Getting around your urge to smoke

"Smokers who successfully shun cigarettes during the first 24 hours of a quit attempt are 10 times more likely to kick the habit permanently than those unable to stay smokeless for a day" - Reuters Health / F. Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Washington.

The first three months after quitting smoking is the hardest and most relapses occur during this time. One key to successful quitting is knowing the things that trigger your urge to smoke and being able to avoid the situation, change the situation or just find a substitute for a cigarette (e.g. a pencil or a lollipop!) in certain situations.

Keep your list of smoking triggers handy:

If you smoke to relax and to feel less stressed then try alternative relaxation techniques (see Relaxation Exercises) like exercise, yoga, breathing exercises, relaxing music, whatever works for you.
If you smoke to give you a pep up try to get your stimulation from things that are happening in your life such as exercise, an exciting film, good conversation or a darned good book.
If you smoke just because you like the feeling of having something in your mouth try substituting low calorie snacks such as popcorn, low sugar gum or sweets or even chew on a toothpick (see How to avoid weight gain).
If you smoke mainly to keep your hands busy try doing anything else that allows you to use your hands – play with beads, computer games (see The Pleasure Zone), you could even learn to paint or knit(!).
If you associate smoking with a particular food, or drink then try to avoid the drink or drink the drink differently (through a straw perhaps) or have the drink in a different place.
If you smoke out for no reason but habit in certain situations avoid them! If certain friends or certain places that make you crave a cigarette then look at your list of reasons you’re quitting and then make your decision – only you can decide how much is quitting worth to you.
If you smoke for sheer pleasure of it try to find pleasure elsewhere (preferably in places where no one else is smoking). You can take the money you save from not buying cigarettes and go and splurge on a new hobby, dinner with a friend who makes you laugh, a film or a concert. The possibilities are endless…


2.  Other Quitting Tips & Hints

Make a clean start

You are starting a new life as a non-smoker so make a big deal out of it. If you do this, quitting will not only be easier but you’ll be more likely to stay smokefree. Get a hair cut, clean your car so it doesn’t smell of smoke, throw out your ashtrays and lighters (yes, throw them out!), flush your all your cigarettes and butts down the toilet and buy yourself a treat. Today is special. You are making a change that will allow you to reap the rewards for the rest of your life.

Sources of Support

Click here to read all about what's available.  

Drink lots of fluids

This helps to flush the nicotine and other toxins out of your system.

Cut down on caffeine

When you stop smoking the caffeine in colas, coffee and tea can become more potent. This can lead to anxiety and jitters. Try to reduce your caffeine intake and you may find this helps to control some of your withdrawal symptoms.

Carry a piece of special piece of paper around…

On this paper write down why you want to quit, the pain and the hurt you’ve felt while trying to quit and also the positive things you’ve found about being a non-smoker. Look at this piece of paper every time you have a craving.

Tell yourself you’re a non-smoker

Don’t see yourself as a smoker who is just "not smoking at the moment". Think of yourself as a non-smoker and try saying it over and over to yourself. This is actually quite helpful because it causes you to change the way you see yourself.

Relaxation Exercises

This can really help so try it! Every time you crave a cigarette stop whatever you are doing, close your eyes and tense all the muscles in your body and then relax them as fully as possible. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air, then hold it. Slowly release the air from your lungs as you exhale and keep breathing out until you feel as if you can’t breathe out any more. While you do this let you arms fall by your side and let your chin fall onto your chest. Imagine that as you breathe out all the tension and stress is leaving your body from your fingers and your toes. Repeat this process three times. Remember two things, the lotus position isn’t necessary and just take everything as it comes – don’t feel under pressure to relax!


3.  The Truth About Nicotine Withdrawal

One of the keys to quitting smoking is acknowledging that smoking cigarettes is an addiction that can be managed and overcome. One of the main reasons people give up quitting is because they find the withdrawal symptoms so fierce and unexpected. Don’t worry these symptoms are actually good news, signs that your body is purging itself of all the harmful chemicals cigarettes left in your body. Most people do not experience all of the symptoms below:






1 - 2 days


Increased oxygen levels in blood and blood pressure lowering to normal

Be careful, take precautions and don’t work to hard

1 - 5 days

Coughing, nose running

The body’s respiratory system begins to clean itself

Drink lots of fluids

1 – 5 days

Sore throat

The clearing away of nicotine and tar and the growth of new tissue

Suck sweets, eat honey or anything else that will soothe your throat

1 – 5 days

Tight chest

The coughing causes the chest muscles to get sore

Try relaxation and deep breathing exercises

1 – 2 weeks

Flatulence and constipation

Temporary slowing of intestinal movement

Eat lots of fibre and drink lots of fluids

1 – 2 weeks


Increased blood flow (with more oxygen) to the back of the brain

Drink lots of fluids and do relaxation exercises

2 – 4 weeks


Your body is desperate for nicotine

Relaxation exercises

2 – 4 weeks

Reduced concentration

Increased blood flow and oxygen to brain and lack of stimulation from nicotine

Don’t over exert yourself.

2 – 4 weeks


Without nicotine your metabolic rate drops down to normal

Don’t over exert yourself. This feeling will go away in a few weeks



4.  Quitting: the immediate benefits

A few minutes after you finish your last cigarette your body begins to repair itself and you’ll reap the health benefits for the rest of your life.


Blood pressure lowers and returns to normal.
Pulse rate slows and returns to normal.


As the nicotine continues to leave your system you will feel the symptoms of withdrawal (see The Truth About Nicotine Withdrawal). REAL CRAVING! Stay strong.


The levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood are halved.
Oxygen levels increase and return to normal.


Lungs start to work more efficiently and clear out mucus and other gunk left there by cigarette smoke.
Carbon monoxide is completely out of your bloodstream.


Nicotine is completely out of your bloodstream.
Sense of taste and sense sharpen.


Most of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are completely gone. (see The Truth About Nicotine Withdrawal).


Circulation is improving – blood flow improves to hands and feet. Skin looks more fresh.
Overall energy level increases.


The tiny hairs (cilia) in the lungs that were paralyzed by the tar start to work again and are able to remove the mucus so you can cough it up (lovely!). In fact, when this happens you might find that you are coughing even more than usual, don’t worry this is a good thing and it will soon pass.


Lung function has increased by 10%.
Less breathing problems.
Less coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and sinus congestion.


Risk of having a heart attack half that of a smoker.
Risk of cancer of the mouth and throat half that of a smoker.
Risk of having a stroke the same as a non-smoker (5 – 15 years after quitting).


Risk of lung cancer half that of a smoker
Risk of having a heart attack the same as if you’d never smoked a single cigarette!



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Last modified: August 03, 2000