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Kicking the habit for good: How to stop smoking today

Read time:

Five minutes or less

What you’ll learn:

  • The health benefits of quitting today
  • Top tips to help you find your motivation for stopping smoking and managing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Where to find Aetna support to help you kick the habit

Good habits are just as addictive as bad habits but much more rewarding.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a constant reminder to us all of the importance of caring for our health and, in particular, our lungs. This may feel especially urgent for those who smoke. But quitting isn’t easy, even when you know it’s in your best interest.

If you’re a smoker and want to quit but don’t know where to start, we’ve got a few suggestions.

But first, some encouragement

Choosing to stop smoking has immediate benefits:

  • After only 8 hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide blood levels are halved, and your oxygen levels return to normal
  • After 3-9 months, your lung function improves by up to 10 percent, and coughing, wheezing and breathing problems improve

And of course, the long-term impacts of choosing to stop smoking are even more encouraging. For instance, if you quit smoking today, 10 years from now your risk of lung cancer will be half that of a smoker.

Tip #1: To succeed, make it personal

Identifying why you want to stop using tobacco can help you maintain your commitment. So, why do you want to quit?

  • Better health?
  • Be there for your children?
  • Save money?
  • Have more energy?
Tip #2: Get moving to combat cravings

When you move more, you stress less. And when you’re less stressed, you may be less triggered to smoke. Start by simply trying to move more during your day, then graduate to exercises such as walking, bicycling, swimming or jogging.

Tip #3: Recognise your triggers

Recognising your triggers is an important step in overcoming tobacco use. It might be when you wake up, or driving, or when you’re taking a work break. Try steering clear of your triggers by taking a walk or talking to a friend or ‘quitting buddy’, chewing gum or nibbling on carrots until the moment passes.

Tip #4: Develop withdrawal coping strategies

It’s important to have strategies that will help you cope with the symptoms of smoking withdrawal. Practice mindfulness, do something that brings you joy, get active, or drink water and eat high-fibre foods to fill the void created by not smoking.

Tip # 5: Don’t go it alone

While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to kicking the habit, former smokers and experts believe these tactics offer the best chance of success:

  • Stay in the moment with mindfulness
    Studies suggest that practicing mindfulness or meditation reduces smoking at a greater rate than typical smoking cessation programs. (To learn more about mindfulness, see the “Support for members…” section below.)
  • Use mobile apps for support
    A mobile app removes the barrier of having to go to a professional’s office and is close at hand in those moments when you need support. The Smoke Free app is designed to help you stay smoke-free with over 30 behaviour change techniques.
  • Seek guidance from someone who's been there
    Who knows better what you're going through and how hard it is than an ex-smoker? Having a smoking 'sponsor' with whom to share your experience, progress and setbacks can be a really effective tool in your quest to quit.
  • Take advantage of programmes offered through your insurance plan
    As an Aetna member, you have access to our professional clinical team for further assistance and advice to help you live a tobacco-free life.

Support for members to help you quit smoking

We understand how difficult it can be to quit using tobacco. That’s why we provide access to services and self-help resources to help you:

  • Let science help you stop smoking for good — Use the latest knowledge about behaviour change via the Smoke Free app to help you stay smoke-free. Over 30 behaviour change techniques are packed into Smoke Free’s innovative features. Break the habit and start feeling better today! To take advantage of your discounted member access, click here.
  • Use mindfulness and stress reduction techniques to help you kick the tobacco habit — AWARE is our six-week mindfulness-based stress reduction programme conducted over the phone by health and wellness professionals. It is designed to help incorporate mindfulness into your life to reduce your stress and increase resiliency, well-being and focus. To find out more, click here.
  • Talk with a doctor, virtually — Get convenient access to expert health care by phone or video chat from the comfort of your home, day and night*. Talk to dedicated, specially trained doctors who can diagnose and treat medical conditions, email prescriptions, make referrals and offer general health advice. Click here to learn more about vHealth or to find out if you’re eligible. Members in the U.S. can access Teladoc here. Talk with a doctor for help and guidance or if you have health concerns.

A photo of a woman at the market, taking the time to smell the flowers

Five For Me: Bite-sized health and well-being tips just for you

Wouldn’t it be nice if getting expert advice, guidance and inspiration to help you balance your emotional and physical health was quick and easy? That’s the idea behind Five For Me — bite-sized member health and well-being tips that help you build the habit of better health. Available exclusively to our members, Five for Me encourages you to take just five minutes out of your day to do something positive for your health and well-being. It’s quick, easy and good for your all-round health, and brought to you by a team of clinical experts. Read more

*vHealth video chat is not available in UAE.

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