Need help quitting smoking?

Mental Health and Wellbeing 29/07/2019

Help to stop smoking is available, check out your local stop smoking service here.

Stopping smoking isn’t easy. But hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have done it, and you can too.

We all know someone who has gone ‘cold turkey’ – they just decided to stop smoking one day and never smoked again. But the reality for many people is that quitting smoking is hard, because nicotine is so addictive. Sometimes it takes lots of tries before you finally quit. Just remember, every quit attempt is bringing you one step closer to that day when you can say

“I don’t smoke.”

Stopping smoking has long-term health benefits – greatly reducing your risk of getting lung cancer, or having a heart attack or stroke.

There are immediate benefits too.

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure, body temperature and pulse will return to normal.
  • Within eight hours, your smoker’s breath disappears, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops and your oxygen level rises to normal.
  • Within 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases.
  • Within three days, your breathing is easier and you can run without wheezing.

Dealing with cravings

Nicotine is one of thousands of chemicals in cigarettes. Nicotine is what keeps you wanting to have another cigarette, and another, and another.2

When someone stops smoking it causes withdrawal including irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, anxiety or depressed moods, and increased hunger particularly for sweets.3

If you have cravings, remember they do pass, and each craving you get through brings you one step closer to quitting. So remember the 4 Ds:

  • Delay – Delay acting on the urge to smoke. Don't open a pack or light a cigarette. After a few minutes, the urge to smoke will pass.
  • Deep breath – Take a long slow breath in, and breathe out slowly again. Repeat three times. 
  • Drink water – Sip it slowly, holding it in your mouth a little longer to savour the taste.
  • Do something else – Take your mind off smoking by taking action – put on some music, go for a walk, ring a friend and keep your hands busy.


Vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco. Vaping can help smokers quit by delivering nicotine but without many, or less of, the toxins found in cigarette smoke.

Vaping devices heat a liquid creating an aerosol (vapour) that users can inhale, which means it also has some of the behavioural aspects of smoking.

No vaping device has yet been approved as an official stop-smoking medicine.

Learn more at Vaping Facts.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Using nicotine patches, gum or lozenges reduces withdrawal symptoms and can double your chances of stopping smoking. They are safe to use, and work by replacing some of the nicotine you usually get from cigarettes or tobacco.

You can get NRT from the following places:

  • Your local stop smoking service
  • Quitline, online or by phone
  • Via a prescription from your GP or primary health care provider
  • A pharmacy
  • The supermarket.

NRT is free from your local stop smoking service. There will be a $5 dispensing fee if you access it via Quitline, your GP or pharmacist.