Healthy living

Aboriginal health – have you thought about quitting the smokes?

Reducing or quitting the smokes

Giving up the smokes can be hard for some people. This is because the nicotine in smokes is an addictive substance, and your smoking may be a strong habit.

The National Tobacco Campaign's Don't Make Smokes your story aims to encourage smokers and their families to quit using other peoples stories about quitting and the reasons why.


When you quit smoking you may have some withdrawal symptoms as your body begins to repair and return to normal. These may include:

  • coughing
  • cravings
  • irritable and mood swings
  • difficulty concentrating
  • tingles in hands and feet
  • restlessness
  • feeling anxious for no reason
  • upset stomach
  • headaches
  • feeling hungry.

These symptoms will disappear. It may take 10 to 30 days.

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Managing cravings

Cravings only last a few minutes, and get less over time. When you have a craving remember it will pass.

The 4 Deadly Ds

The 4 Ds can be a useful way of managing that craving:

  • Delay
  • Deep breathe
  • Drink water
  • Do something else.

Quitting methods

Going cold turkey

This means giving up the smokes suddenly. This works for many people, and you can still get support or use quitting medications to help you get through.

Gradual approach

This means you cut down the number of smokes you have each day, until you no longer smoke. Or you may delay the time you have your first cigarette, making it later and later, until you no longer smoke. If you take this approach it helps to aim to be smoke free within 2 weeks.


Medications are available which can reduce withdrawal symptoms. These are nicotine replacement products and some prescription medications. Ask your doctor or health care worker if these would be OK for you.

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  • Make a plan and stick to it.
  • See if anyone else in the family wants to quit with you.
  • Find people who can support you.
  • Change old habits.
  • Ask other people who quit how they did it.
  • Join a group – it can make things easier.
  • Know what triggers you to smoke.
  • Keep a track of how much money you are saving.
  • Find other things to do with your hands.
  • Remember it can take several attempts to stay quit.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself if you have a slip up – it’s a chance to learn to do things differently.
  • Phone a friend or call Quitline 13 78 48.

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Good health news about quitting

  • 8 hours – excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood.
  • 5 days – most nicotine is out of your body.
  • 1 week – your senses of taste and smell get better.
  • 4 weeks – your blood flow is improving.
  • 3 months – your lungs are working better.
  • 12 months – your risk of heart disease has halved.
  • 5 years – your risk of stroke is greatly reduced.

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More good things about quitting

  • Save money
  • Be a good role model for kids and community
  • Live longer
  • Be there to pass on culture and knowledge
  • Make the family proud
  • Feel fitter and healthier
  • Have more energy
  • Know you are keeping your kids safe and healthy.

Where to get help

If you’re thinking about quitting or cutting down on smokes there are a lot of people who could help you.

You can speak to your:

  • doctor or GP
  • local nurse
  • chemist
  • Aboriginal health practitioner
  • AMS health worker
  • tobacco cessation worker
  • other people who have quit
  • family and friends.


Quitline is a confidential telephone service. You can call Quitline on 13 78 48 (13QUIT) and choose to speak with an Aboriginal counsellor. Quitline counsellors are very experienced in helping people stop or reduce their smoking.


  • Quitting smokes can improve your health, and reduce your chances of getting sick with heart disease.
  • Cravings only last a few minutes and get less over time.
  • It can take up to 30 days for withdrawal symptoms to disappear.

Illustrations by Patrick Bayly


Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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