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Tobacco-Free UMass logo

As of July 1, 2013, UMass Amherst is tobacco-free.

In taking this important step to protect the health of all students, employees and visitors, our campus joins more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country. Learn more about the Tobacco-Free UMass initiative with these timely resources...

Quitting tobacco

It took time to become a tobacco user. Even after you stop, it will take time to think, act and live without it. Becoming tobacco-free is a process, not an event.

Addiction vs. habit

Many, but not all, people have a physical addiction to nicotine. But for most, tobacco use is part of their daily patterns.

Most smokers tend to smoke at the same times and places. For example, a typical smoker’s day may involve waking up and having a cigarette within five to 30 minutes. Then, they may take a shower, get dressed, have a cigarette, go outside, have a cigarette, get coffee, have a cigarette, walk to class, have a cigarette, go to class, walk out of class and have a cigarette … and so on. Examine your own patterns to know when and why you smoke.

The ‘why’ may include stress relief, boredom, a need for energy or for calm, to increase concentration, take a break or be social. The needs and triggers will still be there; how will you manage them without cigarettes? You'll need a plan for when these situations arise.

Nicotine addiction relates to your physical dependency. If you come to UHS for tobacco cessation services, you can take a brief test to assess your nicotine dependence. We’ll discuss the results with you and help determine whether nicotine replacements, such as the patch, might help.

Getting ready to quit

If you’re getting ready to quit, have a plan. Typically, it’s not easy to quit, so being prepared for what you may encounter can make or break your effort.

Everyone who uses tobacco relates to it in their own way, and will have their own particular way of quitting. But, these tools can help get you started:

Set a quit date

Set a quit date – that’s the latest you’ll quit. You may quit before then, but this gives you a deadline and allows you to focus on preparation.


It’s a good idea to reduce your nicotine intake before quitting. This helps lessen withdrawal symptoms and speed up your journey to becoming tobacco-free.

If you smoke cigarettes, it’s best not to taper below a certain number of cigarettes (usually no fewer than seven). The remaining cigarettes can become very meaningful and thus more difficult to let go.

Clean up

Before you quit, get rid of items associated with tobacco use – ashtrays, matchbooks, lighters, spit cups, and, of course, tobacco products.

Many people find it helpful to clean other things, like their car, home and clothes. You're getting rid of lingering smells that could trigger tobacco use, while symbolizing your clean start into a new phase of life.


There'll be situations which may be challenging, like parties, meals, stressful encounters at work, or family gatherings. Try to avoid these as much as possible, especially in the early stages of quitting. If you can’t avoid them, plan coping strategies and practice stress management techniques.

Structure your eating

Don’t let yourself get hungry. Eat regularly and have a few nutritious snacks throughout the day. Choose healthy, light, wholesome foods. Be careful about caffeine and sugar; both can increase urges. Drinking lots of water will fill you and help cleanse your system.

Use support systems

Let your family and friends know you’re quitting and ask for their support. Find people to connect with who don’t use tobacco, and have someone you can call if things are getting tough.

A quitter's checklist

  • Write them down
    List your reasons to quit using tobacco.

  • Set a quit date
    Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.

  • Talk to your health care provider
    Before quitting, talk about any health worries with your provider.

  • Choose your method
    Or more than one: individual or group meetings with a tobacco treatment specialist; nicotine replacement therapy; medication; quitting cold turkey; or tapering off.

  • Know yourself
    Understand your smoking habit: when, where, why and how.

  • Anticipate
    Identify stressful situations and strategies for dealing with them.

  • Tell someone
    Let friends and family know about your plans and quit date.

  • Clean up
    Rid your home, car and other personal spaces of smoking- related items like cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.

  • Stock up
    Have plenty of gum, carrot sticks, toothpicks or other things on hand to help with oral cravings.

  • Busywork
    Find things to keep your hands busy, like stress balls, games, knitting, pens or beads.

  • "The Four Ds"
    Practice The Four Ds: delay; deep breathe; drink water; and distract yourself or do something else.

  • Think and do
    Create a list of ideas about how to handle cravings after quitting and try some out.

  • Call us
    Talk with a tobacco treatment specialist. Call (413) 577-5225 for an appointment.