Preparing to Quit Tobacco


Due to effective smoking cessation programs, and other factors, the rate of quitting tobacco has surpassed the rate of initiation. Now there are more former smokers than current smokers in the U.S., demonstrating that although quitting smoking is difficult it’s also achievable.1

Even with strong evidence correlating smoking to serious health consequences, including mortality, smoking continues to be a public health concern despite effective and readily available interventions.2

In order to develop effective treatment programs, researchers studied former smokers—those who had quit on their own—and identified effective cessation strategies.3 During a smoker’s pre-contemplation period, clinicians can play a role in advising the smoker to quit. To encourage smokers to quit, clinicians can offer the following advice: “focus on personally relevant information on: risks of smoking, rewards of stopping, roadblocks to quitting, and repeating this advice.” This advice can help smokers move along the path of pre-contemplation to contemplation to cessation.4

The pre-contemplation stage is significant because quitting smoking is a matter of planning and commitment.5 There is no one right way to quit, so creating a personalized quit plan can keep an individual on track to staying quit.6

The recommended clinical guidelines helping a patient prepare for quitting are:7

  • Assessing a smoker’s commitment to quit.
  • Helping the patient set a quit date, ideally within two weeks of deciding to quit.
  • Advising the patient to tell family, friends, and coworkers about quitting and requesting understanding and support.
  • Anticipating challenges to the upcoming quit attempt, particularly during the first few weeks.
  • Advising the patient to remove all tobacco products from their environment and make the home smoke-free. And, avoid places where the smoker used to smoke.

For many smokers, relapse is a common phenomenon, as it may take many attempts to quit before being successful.8 Using a Monday refresh can help to facilitate reassessment and progress.

The Monday Campaigns has worked with the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to explore the ways in which Monday can help people quit and stay quit. Recent studies highlight the importance of Monday as a helpful approach to quit smoking.9, 10, 11

For more information about using a Monday cue to support healthy behavior, read The Monday Campaigns Research.  Visit our Resources page for more creative material and resources to promote Quit & Stay Quit Monday.

[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smoking cessation: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2020.

[2] Health effects of cigarette smoking. 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[3] Etter, et. al. 2000. On quitting smoking: Development of two scales measuring the use of self-change strategies in current and former smokers (Scs-cs and scs-fs). Addictive Behaviors. Volume 25, Issue 4, July–August 2000, Pages 523-538.

[4] Hughes, J. 2003. Motivating and helping smokers to stop smoking. J Gen Intern Med. 2003 Dec; 18(12): 1053–1057.

[5] Deciding to quit smoking and making a plan. 2016. American Cancer Society.

[6] Prepare to quit.

[7] Fiore, et. al. 2008. A clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 Update. Am J Prev Med. 2008 Aug; 35(2): 158–176.

[8] Chaiton, et. al. 2016. Estimating the number of quit attempts it takes to quit smoking successfully in a longitudinal cohort of smokers. BMJ Open.

[9] De Leon, et al. 2018. ‘Quit and Stay Quit Monday’ as a novel approach to smoking cessation: A pilot experimental study. Journal of Smoking Cessation. Volume 13, Issue 3 September 2018 , pp. 171-175.

[10] Welding, et. al. 2017. Weekly enrollment and usage patterns in an Internet smoking cessation intervention. Internet Interventions. Volume 9, September 2017, Pages 100-105.

[11] Leveraging the Monday effect for tobacco cessation. 2018. Quit & Stay Quit Monday.