Best Non-Medical Ways to Quit Smoking

The CBQ Method is one of the best non-medical ways to quit smoking

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Research suggests that almost 70% of adult smokers want to quit, and roughly half of adult smokers (21.5 million) in 2018 reported that they had made a quit attempt in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nicotine is highly addictive and the process of quitting is difficult, but support tools can increase your odds of success.

If you're looking for a non-medication support tool to help you quit smoking, there are many options to help support you in your journey. This includes everything from in-person support groups to telephone coaches to text-based messaging apps.

It's important to not that combining non-medical support with medications—such as bupropion (Zyban), varenicline (Chantix), or nicotine gum or patches—can offer additional support for you in this process.

Many resources are also offered for free through government initiatives under the direction of the American Cancer Society. But whether you are a long-time smoker looking for personalized support or a casual one wanting to use an app to quit for good, you'll likely find something to suit your needs. We've rounded up the best non-medical ways to quit smoking so that you can curb your habit.

Best Non-Medical Ways to Quit Smoking of 2023

Best Overall : Cognitive Behavioral Quitting (CBQ) Method


CBQ Method

CBQ Method

Key Specs
  • Price: $597
  • Plan: 10-day online program that follows four steps
  • Tech: Online video
Why We Chose It

The Cognitive Behavioral Quitting (CBQ) Method, created by Nasia Davos, helps smokers overcome their mental dependence on nicotine by changing how they view smoking.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Various specialized plans available

  • Draws on neuroscience with an aim to help rewire your brain

Cons
  • Somewhat expensive

Overview

The method was designed to help smokers stop smoking by removing the desire for cigarettes.

It draws on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neuroscience, and coaching. This method aims to deal with mental dependence rather than relying on overcoming the physical addiction alone.

This is done in four stages. First, you'll need to choose to quit. The next step is to remove the fears that are stopping you from becoming a non-smoker. Then, you'll need to break your smoking habit by rewiring your smoking triggers. And, finally, you'll need to condition your new, smoke-free life so you can have a happy non-smoker life.

There are various specialized plans, but the primary CBQ Method is an online, 10-day program that follows the four steps and costs about $597.

Best for Getting Started : QuitStart App


Key Specs
  • Price: Free app
  • Plan: Prep tips, progress monitoring, and badges to celebrate milestones
  • Tech: App
Why We We Chose It

The QuitStart App is designed to help you get started with managing nicotine addiction and quitting smoking.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Tips to help you prepare to quit and manage cravings

  • Progress tracking and sharing

  • Challenges and games

Cons
  • Those who don't use the app frequently may not see as much of a benefit

Overview

The app includes a variety of features; information and tips on how to prepare to quit smoking, a place to monitor your progress, the ability to earn badges to celebrate milestones in your journey, help to get back on track if you slip up and smoke, and tips to help manage cravings and down moods.

Additionally, the app features helpful distractions like challenges and games, the ability to create a stop smoking toolkit with inspiration and tips to keep you going, and a way to share your progress on social media.

Like the QuitNow Quitline, the QuitStart App is a government initiative directed by the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The development of the app was informed from input by tobacco control professionals, ex-smokers, and smoking cessation experts.

The app is available as a free download.

Best for Text-Based Support : SmokefreeTXT Text Message Service


SmokefreeTXT logo

SmokefreeTXT

Key Specs
  • Price: Free but message and data rates may apply
  • Plan: 6-8 weeks of daily text messages plus follow-up messages once a month or more
  • Tech: Text messaging service
Why We Chose It

SmokefreeTXT is a free text messaging service that includes six to eight weeks of daily text messages (three to five messages per day).

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Free service

  • On-demand messages available to help with support for cravings and moods

Cons
  • Not ideal for those who don't have unlimited texting plans

Overview

SmokefreeTXT is a text messaging service designed to help adults in the United States quit smoking. The serviceTexts range from motivational to daily challenges, and on-demand messaging is also available. After finishing the program, users will receive follow-up messages in one, three, and six months. Users must have a U.S.-based mobile phone and, ideally, unlimited text messaging (so that per-message rates are not applied).

Sample messages from the program include tips like, "Cravings can be triggered by seeing other people smoking. Spend time in places where smoking isn't allowed. Try malls, museums, or the movies." Or, they can be daily challenges like, "Day 6- Delay your 1st cig (or the next one) by an hour today. Make a plan and stick to it. Every time you put out a cig is a chance to try quitting again."

Users can request on-demand messages to help manage cravings, moods, or slip-ups by texting one-word keywords (i.e. CRAVE, MOOD, SLIP) to the SmokefreeTXT number (47848). This does not sign you up for the weekly program; instead, you receive one message to help you in the moment.

Specific programs are also available for teens, moms, veterans, etc. There is no fee for the service. You can sign up by texting QUIT to 47848.

Best for Group Support : Nicotine Anonymous


Nicotine Anonymous Logo

Nicotine Anonymous

Key Specs
  • Price: Free in-person or online meetings
  • Plan: Support groups using a 12-step model
  • Tech: Online meetings and option to sign up for a newsletter
Why We Chose It

Nicotine Anonymous (NicA) is a nonprofit network of support groups to overcome nicotine addiction based on the 12-step model used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The program involves group support and recovery for those looking to maintain abstinence from nicotine.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Free social support

  • Members can be following any program to quit smoking

Cons
  • Finding the most supportive group for you may take time

Overview

Members of NicA can be following any program to quit smoking and end nicotine addiction. For example, some people might be completing a smoking cessation program, while others could be using nicotine withdrawal aids.

The strength of the 12-step program is the group support model for those wanting a nicotine-free life. Just as with AA, the basis of the network of groups is that the individual should surrender their addiction to a higher power. Also, the 12 steps involve other social-based activities designed to strengthen one's resolve to quit smoking, abstain from nicotine, and reduce dependence.

NicA offers help and support for free to all individuals looking to abstain from nicotine. And while meetings are free, able members are encouraged to donate to both Nicotine Anonymous World Services and their local chapter.

Best for Coaching : QuitNow Quitline


Key Specs
  • Price: Free
  • Plan: Phone coaching to develop individualized plan
  • Tech: Phone
Why We Chose It

The QuitNow Quitline offers free telephone coaching with a trained coach to help you develop a plan to quit smoking.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Free

  • Helps you develop an individualized plan

Cons
  • Mostly directs you to other supports to help you quit

Overview

The QuitNow Quitline service is available throughout the United States and in several languages.

Quit coaches are trained to help you stop smoking by making a tailored plan for your individual situation. Many of them are former smokers and are trained to be empathetic listeners, provide encouragement, and give helpful tips.

When you call the QuitNow Quitline, your coach will ask about what type of help you are interested in obtaining. You will also be questioned about your past experiences with trying to quit smoking. These questions are designed to identify the best program and approach for you.

Quitlines can be seen as an add-on to whatever support your receive from your doctor. They can help connect you with community resources or determine how your health insurance might cover stop smoking aids like medication. In many ways, QuitNow functions like a stop-smoking coach to help you make a plan to deal with cravings, figure out what program is best for you, and put together a plan to quit.

If you'd like to use the Quitline, you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The program is free to access.

Best for Tracking and Journaling : QuitGuide App


Key Specs
  • Price: Free to download app
  • Plan: Track cravings, triggers, and progress
  • Tech: App
We We Chose It

The QuitGuide app allows you to track cravings, triggers, and progress during your smoke-free journey.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Tracking to help you identify craving patterns and triggers

  • Inspirational messages

  • Free

Cons
  • Does not offer check ins

Overview

The QuitGuide app, also a government-funded initiative, is available in the United States for tracking cravings and progress.

The QuitGuide app helps you to do the following:

  • Understand your craving patterns by time of day and location.
  • Understand your cravings by mood and other triggers.
  • Build skills to manage your cravings.
  • Receive motivational and inspirational messages to deal with cravings.

Additionally, you'll be able to identify your own personal reasons for quitting, monitor your progress during your journey to stop smoking and keep a journal or log to record your process.

This app is available as a free download.

Final Verdict

The Cognitive Behavioral Quitting (CBQ) Method is our top pick overall for the best non-medical way to quit smoking because it helps change how you view smoking. CBQ addresses mental dependence to help boost your chances of success. However, what may work best for you depends on many factors, so talk to your health care provider to discuss which quitting smoking treatments are right for you.

If you are looking for an in-person support group similar to AA, Nicotine Anonymous is your best option. If you want text-based daily messages, then SmokefreeTXT is the way to go. If you prefer having someone hold you accountable, such as a coach, the QuitNow Quitline offers free telephone coaching to help you with your plan to quit smoking.

Research suggests that it is not uncommon for people to resume smoking after finishing treatment, often due to fluctuating urges to smoking caused by shifts in mood. Having a plan and relying on different smoking cessation tools may help you remain abstinent over the long term.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Most Effective Ways to Quit Smoking?

Research suggests that reduction support combined with smoking cessation medications increases your chances of long-term success when quitting smoking. Self-help tools are most useful when they include one-on-one or group support within the program. Extended programs that are at least two weeks in length and include at least four sessions lasting 30 minutes or more tend to have better success as well.

How Long Does It Take to Quit Smoking?

When you stop smoking, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, feeling irritable or sad, and having trouble sleeping. These symptoms usually last a few days or weeks. Beyond withdrawal, a good stop smoking program will last several weeks. However, it may take months or years to combat your smoking addiction fully.

Is It Better to Cut Down on Smoking Before Quitting?

There is evidence that says cutting down on smoking before quitting leads to similar long-term outcomes as quitting cold turkey. This suggests that you should choose the method that feels best for your situation.

Can E-Cigarettes Help You Quit Smoking?

E-cigarettes (vaping) are not a good quit smoking aid. Recent illnesses have been associated with the use of e-cigarettes and the CDC recommends that people avoid the use of all vaping products. Research also suggests that vaping is not effective as a smoking reduction or smoking cessation tool.

Methodology

The best ways to quit smoking were chosen based on a variety of factors, including research evidence for the service, the availability of coaching or group support, as well as accessibility. Various programs and services were selected to showcase that quitting smoking can look different for each person.

Hands breaking a cigarette

Suriyawut Suriva / EyeEm / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking cessation: fast facts.

  2. Lindson N, Klemperer E, Hong B, Ordóñez-Mena JM, Aveyard P. Smoking reduction interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, ed. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2019;2019(9). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013183.pub2

  3. American Cancer Society. Dealing with the mental part of tobacco addiction. Published October 10, 2020.

  4. Smokefree.gov. Understanding withdrawal.

  5. Lindson N, Klemperer E, Hong B, Ordóñez-Mena JM, Aveyard P. Smoking reduction interventions for smoking cessationCochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, ed. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2019;2019(9). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013183.pub2

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated: interim guidance for health care providers evaluating and caring for patients with suspected e-cigarette, or vaping, product, use associated with lung injury—United States, October 2019. October 18, 2019;68(41):919–927.

  7. Gmel G, Baggio S, Mohler-Kuo M, Daeppen J, Studer J. E-cigarette use in young Swiss men: is vaping an effective way of reducing or quitting smoking? Swiss Med Wkly. Published online January 11, 2016. doi:10.4414/smw.2016.14271

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."