What to do if you have a slip up when you’re trying to stop smoking

Having a slip up and smoking when you're trying to quit is not something to feel ashamed about. And it does not mean you’ve failed. Sometimes it takes a few attempts before you quit for good. All that matters is that you keep on trying.

Why people slip up

There are lots of things that can lead to a slip up when you're trying to stop.

Certain people, places, and things can make you want to smoke. For example, things that remind you of your old habits: like going to the pub, or seeing a friend who smokes.

Your thoughts and emotions can also make you want to smoke. Feeling angry, upset or stressed can lead to an accidental cigarette.

What to do if you smoke

If you smoke, do not beat yourself up about it. It's nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. Quitting is a process and slip-ups are sometimes a part of that. Lots of people who quit for good will make a mistake, and lots of them get their journey back on track.

The most important thing is to learn something from the experience. Work out why you smoked and make a plan for what you’ll do if you’re in that situation again. For example, if you smoked because you had a bad day, maybe next time you could tackle those bad feelings by calling a friend to rant, going for a run, or having a relaxing bath.

How to avoid smoking next time

There are lots of things you can do to make it less likely you'll be tempted:

  • Get support. Speak to a stop smoking adviser, go to a drop-in meeting, join a Facebook group, or talk to a friend.
  • Avoid your triggers. For example, if you liked to smoke at the pub, maybe avoid the pub for a few weeks, or try an inhalator or vape instead of a cigarette.
  • Stay busy. Distract yourself and make sure you have lots of things to do: take up a new hobby, tackle jobs you’ve been putting off, or even do some volunteering.
  • Stay positive. Make a list of the positive things you’re gaining because of quitting, like saving money, stopping coughing, or feeling fitter.

You can also look at our list of recommended articles, apps and tools to find other things that will help you.

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