Smoking and Tobacco Cessation

Image of a lighter

It will come as no surprise that quitting smoking will improve your health. However, the task and even the thought of quitting can often make students feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. But you have made a great first step by just thinking about quitting and starting to look for resources to help you!


Along with improving your health there are several other reasons to think about quitting. You will:

  • live quitting now your life expectancy is the same as a non-smoker
  • save money...a pack-a-day smoker will save $1500 a month or $5110 a year!
  • not become addicted...many students who smoke only socially later become addicted
  • improve your will have whiter teeth, clearer skin, and better looking and smelling hair


There is no right or wrong way to quit. Make a plan that will work best for you! Here are some tips to consider when you are making your plan, help you when you are ready to quit, and help you stay tobacco-free.


Before You Quit

Think about and make a list of all the reasons why you smoke and why you want to quit.

  • Carry the list around with you so you can add to it.


Set a quit date 2-3 weeks out and mark it on your calendar.

  • Start exercising during this time, even if it is just a 2-30 minute walk each day. This will help prevent and reduce the stress that comes with quitting.
  • Practice breathing exercises. Close your eyes. Breathe in slowly for 4 counts, then hold your breath for 4, and slowly breathe out for 4, hold your breath for another 4 counts before breathing back in. As you breathe out, picture all the stress and tension leaving your body. Relax all your muscles. Do this for 5 minutes or until your craving passes.


Make a list of your smoking triggers and a plan for handling them. What situations make you want to have a cigarette? What are some ideas for dealing with these triggers?


Establish a plan for support when you quit. Get a friend to quit with you! Or have someone you can call or text when you are having cravings, whether it is a friend, a quitline, or a text message program for cessation.

Back to top

What to Expect When You Quit

It will be hard and you will experience withdrawal and cravings. During the first few days you may:

  • Cough more. This is a good sign, your body is getting rid of the extra mucus it produced to protect your lungs.
  • Feel a little dizzy or lightheaded. Your blood cells adjusting to finally getting enough oxygen.
  • Feel slightly more depressed.
  • Be a little more anxious, antsy, and jumpy.
  • Experience insomnia.
  • Have trouble concentrating.


One your quit day:

  • drink lots of water and juice,
  • have healthy snacks nearby like sunflower seeds, baby carrots, celery or gum. They will give you something to distract yourself when you get cravings, and
  • practice the breathing exercises.


Think HALT - don't let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired


Use the 4 A's:

  • Avoid - certain people or places that may tempt you to smoke.
  • Alter - your routine. Take a different route to school, drink water instead of alcohol, or take a walk when you'd normally take a smoke break.
  • Alternatives - to cigarettes such as sugarless gum, hard candy, or sunflower seeds.
  • Activities - to distract you and keep your hands busy like exercise, knitting, or video games.


Every time you get the urge to smoke: Stop. Consider. Choose. Act.

  • Pause just long enough to feel the craving and immediately make a choice between smoking or not smoking that cigarette.
  • When you make your choice, consider the costs and benefits of each choice.
  • If you choose to smoke, go ahead. If you choose not to, wait until the next time you get a craving and repeat the sequence.
  • This helps you develop a different and conscious response to the desire to smoke.


Don't drink alcohol for 3 weeks.

  • Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your judgment, so you are more likely to smoke without thinking about it.


If you drink tea or coffee, keep on doing it. You may find you are a little more jittery so try altering the amount you drink.


Get lots of sleep!


If you slip up, you haven't failed!

  • Think about why you had the cigarette, what you can change, and try again!

Back to top


There are numerous resources available to help you quit from nicotine replacement therapy (like the patch) to phone apps. Use one that will work best for you.


Information About Quitting

American Lung Association - How to Quit Smoking


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Quit Tips - Information and Resources to Help You Quit


Tobacco Free U -  Quitting and Staying Smoke Free

Back to Resources


Programs to Help You Quit

ALA Freedom From Smoking Program

Available online or in a group clinic setting. An 8 session program that walks you step-by-step to help you make a plan to quit, guides you through your quit day, and provides support for the following weeks.


California Smokers Helpline

Visit their website or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS. Free, confidential, phone counseling and text message program to help you quit. If you have Medi-Cal, you may qualify for 4 weeks of free nicotine patches.

Information and resources to help you quit. Including:

  • Free phone apps to help you prepare to quit smoking, change your smoking behavior, and manage cravings.
  • Free text messaging 6-8 week program (message and data rates may apply) that provides tips, encouragement, and advice to help you quit.



An online, email, and texting program. You are able to interact with the program and receive texts with tips and advice such as when you need help with cravings, information on what to do if you smoked, and status updates on your quitting process. It costs $29.99 for a 4 month subscription.

Back to Resources


Phone Apps

SF State and SF State Student Health Services do not endorse a specific brand or product, these are suggestions.


Quit It lite and Quit It 3.0 - iPhone (free and $0.99)

Motivates, supports, and encourages you during your quitting process and staying quit. Keeps track of how much money you save, how many cigarettes you didn't smoke, and the benefits of quitting. Quit It 3.0 allows you to set goals throughout the process and track your progress.


Stop Smoking Cigarettes Now - iPhone (free and $3.99)

Allows you to choose how you want to quit: cold turkey, cut back until your desired quit date, or choose a quit date in the past. You can track cravings and smoking to monitor your progress. Shows you real time stats on the money you saved, health benefits, and cigarettes not smoked. Customizes what is motivating and encouraging you to quit.


LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach - iPhone (free)

Helps you create a personalize plan to quit smoking by evaluating your current smoking status, setting attainable goals, and adjusting preferences based on your needs. Allows you to pick if you want to quit right away or decrease your daily cigarette use. Provides personalized inspirational photos, motivational tips, progress, and charts. You can participate in its social support circle and community and get support through Facebook and Twitter.

Back to Resources


Smokeless Tobacco Resources

SF State and SF State Student Health Services do not endorse a specific brand or product, these are suggestions.



Small pouches of flavored coffee that are designed as a healthy alternative to tobacco. The pouches contain coffee and other energy ingredients. They can be used like chewing tobacco to help you kick your habit.



E-cigarettes are an electronic nicotine delivery device and many people claim they help to quit smoking. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive. Some studies, surveys, and individual testimonials have found that they may help smokers quit smoking or smoke fewer cigarettes but many of the studies have had mixed results, been inconclusive, or have found that e-cigarettes are not associated with quitting. Several studies have found that people who say that they are using e-cigarettes to quit are not quitting any more frequently than those who don't use e-cigarettes.

Back to Resources


SF State and Smoking

SF State is a smoke free campus. 


If you are interested in quitting, the resources listed above are safe, effective and proven ways to quit smoking.

Back to top