Quit Smoking

Get Back on Track After a Slip-Up

If you slipped up and had a smoke, don’t despair. Here are tips to get back on track.

When you quit smoking, it can be discouraging to slip up and smoke a cigarette or two. Having even one cigarette puts you at risk for smoking again. But don’t let a slip-up turn into a relapse. It doesn’t have to derail you.

If you slipped, use these tips to get back on track:

  1. 1. Don’t give up. Learning to be a nonsmoker is like learning to ride a bike: When you fall off, get right back on.
  2. 2. Put the slip-up into context. Just because you had a cigarette doesn’t mean you’re a smoker again. Anyone can make a mistake.
  3. 3. Don’t make excuses. Don’t think, “I had one, I might as well finish the pack.” Stop now. The goal is no smoking – not even one puff. And you can do it.
  4. 4. Give yourself credit for past success. Remind yourself of the days, weeks or months you went without smoking.
  5. 5. Remember why you quit. Focus on the positive aspects of not smoking. Recommit to quitting.
  6. 6. Learn from the experience. What caused you to slip up? Think of ways you could have avoided smoking. Work on your coping skills so you are prepared next time you are in the same situation.
  7. 7. Get support. Call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) for free phone counseling. You’ll talk to a trained quit coach in your state who can help you make a plan to avoid future slips.
  8. 8. Talk to your doctor if you need more help. He or she may be able to prescribe medicine, advise you on nicotine replacement products or suggest other tools to help you avoid relapses.
    When a slip-up becomes a relapse
    If you do relapse, remember that quitting smoking is a process. Most people don’t achieve success on their first or second try. It often takes several attempts. Use what you learned about what works and what doesn’t. Then when you’re ready, you can quit again. And this might be the time you are finally able to quit for good.


  • 1. Smokefree.gov. What to do if you slip. Accessed: 08/08/2014
  • 2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Strategies to quit smoking. Accessed: 08/08/2014
  • 3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips from former smokers. Accessed: 08/08/2014


The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you. Some treatments mentioned may not be covered by your health plan. Please refer to your benefit plan documents for information about coverage.

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