Stopping Smoking

Want to stop smoking? Here’s how to get support.

On this page

Want to stop smoking? Here’s how to get support

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.”

Sometimes it takes lots of tries,  but every quit attempt is one step closer to the 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 benefits1 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 set 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.

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:

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.


Using vaping products (sometimes called e-cigarettes) is an option for those people who are trying to quit smoking and other methods haven’t worked for them.

Key points are:

  • The best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit smoking for good.
  • Vaping products are intended for smokers only.
  • The Ministry of Health believes vaping products could disrupt inequities and contribute to Smokefree 2025.
  • The evidence on vaping products indicates they carry much less risk than smoking cigarettes but are not risk free.
  • The Cochrane Review found that vaping products can help people to quit smoking, but acknowledges that the evidence is weak due to little data. 76
  • Both Quitline and local stop smoking services can support smokers using vaping products to quit.
  • There is no international evidence that vaping products are undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking among adults and youth, and may in fact be contributing to it.
  • Despite some experimentation with vaping products among never smokers, vaping products are attracting very few people who have never smoked into regular vaping product use.
  • When used as intended, vaping products pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but e-liquids should be in child resistant packaging.
  • The Ministry of Health is identifying safety standards for vaping products in New Zealand. In the meantime, vapers should buy their products from a reputable source like specialist retailers.

Combining smoking with vaping

The greatest health benefits are seen when people stop smoking completely, and this should be the goal when trying to quit.

Some people manage to switch completely to vaping quickly. Others can take some time to adjust and may need to try a number of different vaping products and e-liquids before finding one that can help them stop smoking.

Ideally, people will eventually stop vaping as well.    

Where vaping products can be used

The Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 does not prohibit vaping products being used in smoke-free places. However, individual organisations can ban vaping as part of their own smoke-free policies. 

For more information 

  • There is more information about vaping, including the risks, legislation covering vaping products, on the Ministry of Health website. 
  • Quitline has general information about vaping, as well as how they can help people who are using vaping to quit smoking.
Page last updated: 18 Dec 2018