How to Quit Smoking in 21 Days?

 It takes 21 days to make or break any habit.

Start getting up at 5 am in the morning. Within 2 weeks, you will not need an alarm to make you rise and shine at that wee hour.

Go no-sugar in your tea or coffee. In less than 15 days you will forget how your good’ old sweet beverage even tasted.

Quit smoking and after 21 days, you will not feel like having a puff ever again.

Yes, doing something continually or refraining from a specific act for a certain period of time gets you hooked or off that particular habit. Now, this is no spoiler that smoking is injurious to health and can potentially lead to cardiovascular disorders, heart diseases, cancers and other life threatening ailments.

Quitting smoking is indeed tough because it is a chemical addiction. The body gets nicotine (tobacco) dependent which means one can’t stop using the substance, even though it causes harm.


Sometimes ‘quitting’ is not a negative act. And with smoking, it is the only resolution. Easier said than done, it is definitely not an easy thing for a smoker to stop smoking at the drop of hat. It takes immense determination, will and a lot of mental strength.

Here is a step by step plan for how to quit smoking. There are guidelines, best practices, facts and tips to help successfully reach the goal.

Step 1: Make the Decision

Firstly, identify your reasons to quit smoking (of course, ill effects on health tops the chart). It helps if you have your goals clearly set in the mind. If you have tried to quit before and failed, don’t let that dishearten you.

Step 2: Recognise Your High-Risk Times

Smoking is not only the physical addiction to nicotine but is also a psychological dependence on the substance. Figure out the reasons – Why do you smoke? Is it a break from a stressful day? Is it a moment of peace? Is it for escape, relaxation, or to reward yourself.

Identify and anticipate your high-risk situations and plan for them. There are some common triggers for smoking cravings:

  • Drinking tea/coffee
  • Post a meal
  • Driving your car or using phone
  • Stressful situations
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Social gathering/hanging out with friends

Step 3: Keep Substitutes Handy

As part of your smoking cessation plan, stock up on substitutes like gum, raw vegetables, carrot sticks, hard candy etc.

Step 4: Let People Know

Quitting is easier with support. Tell people around you about the decision and request them to support you in this by not bringing in or talking about the ‘triggers’ in front of you (Remember, smoking like any addiction is triggered by people, places and things).

Step 5: Remove Anything and Everything Related to Smoking

Cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays – get rid of them all. The smell of cigarettes is a huge trigger, especially in the beginning.

Step 6: The First 2 Weeks

The first two weeks are most critical for the success. If one can get though the first two weeks, chance of success is much higher. So, this period is all about distractions, keeping busy and being good to yourself. Avoid triggers and high-risk situations. Don’t hang out with smokers.

Step 7: Maintenance and Coping

Quit smoking one day at a time. Don’t think about quitting forever. That can be overwhelming. Deal with right now, and the days will start to add up.


Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

Once you quit, there are certain physical, emotional and psycological changes bound to happen. Like,

  • Irritability, anxiety, low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Food cravings
  • Cravings for cigarettes

How Long Does Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

  • Nicotine is out of the body in 72 hours after you quit smoking.
  • Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually reach their peak 2 – 3 days after you quit and are completely gone within 1 to 3 months.
  • It takes at least 3 months for the brain chemistry to return to normal after you quit smoking.
  • Most people start to feel better after 1 week and the symptoms are usually gone within 3 months.

Smoking cessation will reward you with benefits far beyond what you can probably imagine. Be patient and work towards healing your body and mind.

And soon you will realise, this was the best decision of your life!

This blog post has been done in collaboration with ICICI Lombard on the occasion of World Tobacco Day observed on 31 May 2018. For more information on health insurance, please visit:



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