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Cold Turkey Still #1 Quit Smoking Method

Table 3 from American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts and Figures 2003 report indicating that 91.4% of smokers quit smoking entirely on their own.As strange as this sounds, it's unlikely you've ever seen any commercial advocating the #1 stop smoking method. Never! Yet, as suggested by a July 2013 Gallup Poll, this year cold turkey will generate more successful long-term ex-smokers than all other quitting methods combined.

Although fast, free, safe and effective, cold turkey makes no political campaign contributions, no donations to health non-profits, and doesn't have an army of paid consultants designing studies to prove it works. Its only champions are the hundreds of millions of ex-smokers who know it works.

Instead, today pharmaceutical companies will again bombard smokers with two primary falsehoods: (1) that few smokers successfully quit on their own, and (2) their product went head-to-head with real cold turkey quitters and prevailed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Their products have never prevailed against cold turkey but against smokers who joined studies seeking free quitting products but were instead given an inert placebo look-a-like. In fact, placebo isn't even a real quitting method.

July 2018 PLoS One quit smoking method effectiveness chart

The truth is that approved quitting products have failed to prevail against real cold turkey quitters in nearly every real-world quitting method survey conducted to date. Consider the 2018 PLoS One study, a 2013 Gallup Poll, a 2012 Annual Review of Public Health study, a 2009 GlaxoSmithKline survey, a 2006 National Cancer Institute survey, a 2006 general practice physician patient survey and a 2005 study of UK NHS quitters (see Table 6).

So let's hear from a few cold turkey quitters who have quit for at least one year. The below victory messages are shared at WhyQuit.com, the only online quitting site that actually champions and teaches successful cold turkey quitting.

I quit on June 6th, 2007 after 15 years of smoking. I found your site and your ebook and decided to go cold turkey. For almost 3 weeks everything was blurry but then it started getting clearer again. It's been over two years that I have not had a single cigarette and I count that among the top achievements of my life. It gives me so much pride.

My son was born three months after I'd quit. There are days when we would be lying in bed and I would ask myself what would it be like if I had not quit. My little boy would suffer from the cigarette smoke and my wife would not kiss me as much as she now does. Everything smells so good now, like a floral garden. It's heavenly to be a non-smoker.

Anh Pham, Bethesda, MD

HOORAY for ME!!! My name is sam, and I am a nicotine addict. I have stopped nicotine for 10 years, 3 hours, 39 minutes and 18 seconds (3653 days). I've not smoked 109595 cigarettes, and saved $20,132.62 based on the cost of a pack in 2003.

10 years ago, while reading at WhyQuit.com I finally got it!! With a cigarette burning in my ashtray, I read for the umpteenth time the Law of Addiction, and I GOT IT!! I put out the smokes, trashed the pack ... washed all the ashtrays and after 32 years of smoking, started on this journey to FREEDOM! It was tough, but I knew lung cancer was tougher watching my dad. It was depressing, but I knew COPD is more depressing watching my friend. It was a struggle for sure, but not the struggle to recover from a stroke like my mother. And it was so very frustrating, but not nearly as bad as the frustration I saw in my uncle's face as he tried to talk without a voicebox.

A special place WHYQUIT.COM, an education to quit smoking FREE, and the most amazing bunch of quitters on the face of this planet. A simple little phrase has saved me: Just for today, I will not smoke, I can always smoke tomorrow. Come Learn and be Free with me!!

Sharon A Mullings

I would like to share that I hit my 6 year quit anniversary at 5:00am on 8/1/2012. I didn't even know I hit it until the third, while catching up with an old friend when the subject tangented on to our having been active smokers the last time we spoke.

Joel, you, and the group have played a huge part of my own quit history. I write to thank you again. If I were asked, I would say "1=all" is the most powerful cognitive tool I have. Cravings are not the same as wanting.

I am still a nicotine addict, despite not wanting to smoke for almost all of my 6 years free. It's been easy for so long. However, I'm just as close to going back as ever. Going back is no further than one puff away!

Rick Manelis, R.N.

After nearly 34 years of smoking a pack or more of cigarettes per day and a belief that I might never be able to quit, I quit smoking Cold Turkey on February 5, 2004! And guess what? ... It was free! I didn't have to spend any money at all to quit; I didn't have to gradually cut down on smoking to quit; and I didn't have to spend any length of time weaning myself off of nicotine in order to quit. As a matter of fact, cold turkey was a pretty fast way for me to be done with smoking!

Richard, Sacramento, California, USA

My name is Roger. On December 30, 2001, just after midnight, I quit using cigarettes. My method of quitting was cold turkey. To many, this method makes potential quitters tremble with fear, as it also did me. So you may ask why this approach. Well, I can break it down with two simple reasons.

1. This was the last method I never have tried. You see, I tried every device on the market as well as going to a hypnotist. I once went to a religious ceremony where they tried to exorcise my addiction (demons) from my mind. May have worked for some but all it got me was a bunch of free packs of cigarettes from the garbage can tossed there earlier by the hopeful.

2. I found WhyQuit and began reading. The graphics placed here were nothing new to me. I had seen many of them before. I have always been able convinced myself none of that (disease) would ever happen to me. What did penetrate my brain was the realization I had to treat my "Smoking" as an "Addiction" rather than a "Habit." The next 3 + years are now water under the bridge.

Roger, Washington State, USA

I was a two-pack a day smoker for 23 years. I tried to quit smoking by using the patch and gum a few times. It never lasted very long, and I was miserable the entire time. I didn't understand at the time that I was actually causing my quit to be more unpleasant by injesting small amounts of nicotine just frequently enough to leave me in a state of constant withdrawal.

Unbelievably, I felt better during the first three days of my cold turkey quit than I had ever felt weeks into an attempt using the NRTs. My physical withdrawal symptoms were actually minor compared to how I suffered when I used the NRTs. That is the reason I believe my cold turkey quit worked when the others did not. I simply felt better sooner. Now when I see someone trying to quit using the NRTs, it breaks my heart. I know they think it will help. I thought it would help me, too.

Jeanne, Texas, USA

It is easier than you think to not smoke. I smoked for 42 years gradually working up to more and more cigarettes. It was easy enough to quit, so much so that I cannot understand why I didn't quit years ago. Why was I not motivated before I found WhyQuit.com? I hope others get motivated younger than I. My quitting cold turkey has amazed some friends to the point that they quit, too.

Helen McDonald, R.N.

1 year, 9 months and 22 days ago I took my life back. I feel emotional writing this, more emotional than I have felt about my quit in a long time. It makes me sad to think that people feel trapped and that NRT will help free them. NRTs are just another trap. You have the power to free yourself and all the tools you need are with you everywhere, they are your mind and body and soul. Those are the tools that give you logic, motivation, ability to reach out for help, ability to make it through day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute when necessary. Freedom can be yours starting right now!

Jane Crimmins, MS, Early Childhood Education Field Coordinator Teachers College, Columbia University

Hi Folks! I quit smoking cold turkey on March 7th, 2002, the same day as my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer. My sister also quit cold turkey on March 7th, 2002 and remained nicotine free until she passed away on June 23rd, 2004.

Quitting smoking isn't as hard as you think it is. Educate yourself and understand the Law of Addiction. Education is the key to success and don't wait until something horrible happens to you or your family. It really is a matter of life and death.


Someone once asked me..."What is your biggest personal burden?" "I smoke cigarettes." "Quit!" "I don't want to yet." "Why not?" "They relax me." "But, Annette - how can your biggest burden be relaxing?" Blank stare......"I don't know"

In the end, all quitting amounted to was putting them in the dumpster and never picking them back up. I had a physical, afraid...and my lungs showed to be clear...and I felt almost brand new...

So many things have happened this year, relationship and lifestyle change issues, brother's death, stepfathers death, brother moving in, kids moving out and on...and through it all...I have remained smoke free. And because I truly began believing in the fact that I can accomplish and do anything I want to....today I celebrate my one year anniversary of nicotine freedom.

Annette Warner

Having tried NRT in the past without success, I absolutely believe that quitting cold turkey is the only way to an enduring quit. Once I realized that the worst was over [at about day 4 for me] I really understood that the rest of my battle was going to be waged in my head. No more nicotine craves really allowed me more and more comfortable periods of time, even early into the quit. When I used NRT, I always felt antsy and on edge and I found those sensations very uncomfortable. Now, I am almost 15 months into my quit....according to my quit meter that's 20,000 plus cigarettes I haven't inhaled into my lungs....

Liz Wensing

As of August 17th it has been one year since my last cigarette. With the help of WhyQuit.com and Joel, my life no longer revolves around tobacco. Since then, my Boss quit Jan 1st, my Husband quit April 29th and my Sister-in-Law has been nicotine free for 6 weeks. These were all a direct result of my quit and I am proud to influence those around me to give up those cigarettes too (I have a few more victims in mind). Thank you WhyQuit.com and thank you Joel for all of your influence and education, I could not have done it without you.

Stacey McClain

I just wanted to make contact and let people know it is more than possible to quit smoking using a nicotine- free "cold turkey" approach. I tried so many times to quit using gradual cessation methods. They didn't work for me.

A while ago, I got sick with a bad flu and decided to try again (for what seemed the hundredth time). Luckily for me, I found this web site which is anything but unclear about the right goal and what is needed to quit nicotine and stay stopped for good.

Last Friday night, I went to a party for a woman who is 49 years old and is the single parent of 3 kids. She is dying of lung and secondary liver cancer. I met her children (the youngest is 13) and realised that this could (still) be my child. It is and must be a motivator to treat ourselves better..and those we love.

Therese, Perth, Western Australia

I never made the connection with my name and 'winning over the ash' until you pointed it out :-) Talk about a blind spot! Thanks for pointing it out though, it has become another metaphor for me in my journey towards health by never taking another puff.. Please post this message for others who may benefit in the same way I have.

Imagine if you will, a house of feelings. It stands tall before you with a welcoming door of acceptance, to which you now have the key. The windows are large where you sit and view the peace, serenity and pure experience. The walls remind you of the firm resolve that you once never thought you were capable of, yet now it is tangible beyond doubt. The roof is high, symbolic of the positive feelings and simple joys of everyday life, unclouded by smoke. All around the house is a lovely lawn of good practices in sleeping, eating, working, exercising that get built around this edifice of a nicotine-free existence.

So if you desire to enter such a heavenly abode, then there is one sure-fire way to do it. Never take another puff, and sooner rather than later, you'll get there!


When I decided to quit, I decided the best way was to quit cold turkey. I don't really know why, it just made sense. About one week into my quit, I was searching for support and found this site. I have been coming back regularly. I have laughed, cried, studied and learned from this site. I did not ever become a member, but I benefitted just the same. My granddaughter will never know me as a smoker. New people have started working in my office and they cannot believe I ever smoked. I see people smoking now and I just feel very sorry for them (my husband included). Thanks again and I know everyone says this but, if I can do it, anyone can. NTAP!!! It's that easy.

Rose, Davenport, Iowa

I quit smoking after 55 years and did it COLD TURKEY and so did my wife. Neither of us has had a "butt" in 10 years, 7 mos, and 3 days but whose counting? WE ARE and dang proud of it also.

Don & Mary Ann Aspinall & Dawn Razer

I smoked for 40 years and tried to quit for probably 35 of those years. I have been reading this website for almost as long as I've been quit. I lost my wife to lung cancer on April 1, 2005, and I quit the day I took her in for her biopsy. I figured it was about time to get serious about quitting. It only took the disease a little over 2 months after she was diagnosed, to kill her. We were both lifelong smokers and she had quit the week before New Years of that year. I am glad I quit, not only because of my health, but it was one of the few things that she and I could do together those last two painful months of her life. We wanted more than anything, to grow old together. Nicotine robbed us of that very very precious time.

Chester Baldwin, Oklahoma

I used to try to convince myself that I was not a "real" smoker because I didn't normally smoke a pack a day. Somedays I would only have 2 or 3. Other days I would smoke over a pack, usually if it was a weekend night. I couldn't imagine not smoking....what it must be like to have never smoked or be a "non-smoker".

But, here I am...3 years, 4 months & 19 days a NON-SMOKER, cold turkey too! I can truly say that I barely think about smoking & when I look back to the days when I did, now I can't believe that I even smoked....and it feels great!

C. Smullin, Jacksonville, FL

And now it's one year, today's my "anniversary"! I know WhyQuit tends to disclaim credit, but it was pivotal in getting me off insect poison masquerading as neurotransmitters. To WhyQuit, to Joel Spitzer, to my friend who steered me to your site? THANK YOU!

Stan, Johannesburg, South Africa

Only way to go. Cold Turkey! A little over a year ago I had a stroke I ended up in Hospital lucky to be a live, Yes. Well I have given myself a second chance at a much better way of life by giving up, what may have been the reason for the stroke in the first place. Hey I know that I will never be one hundred percent again, but I do know that I feel, breathe, smell and can taste things much better than before, plus I am no longer on the outside looking in.

Jeanie P., New Zealand

So today marks the day where I've quit smoking and remained nicotine-free for one year. I'd quit cold turkey, stopped completely one day at a time. I learned that it's an addiction and in order to stop you have to understand what's happening to your mind and body to get rid of that addiction. I learnt that we should never ever underestimate an addiction. I understood it, I took action, I quit, I conquered my addictions and got rid of them.

Fadhli Rahim

Yesterday, 13/04/2009, I celebrated 2 years without nicotine. I used to smoke cigarettes for 35 years, 20 by day. Quitting is not an easy task, but it is doable. If you are struggling against nicotine, please believe it is doable, you will succeed! Life without nicotine is the real life. I will always recognize the wonderful help I got from WhyQuit, all the knowledge and the cold turkey quitting method. - the most efficient, simple and cheap!

Ismael Nogueira da Gama Orenstein, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Your concise explanations of the addiction, the effect on your brain and, more importantly, why even ONE slip was a disaster, starting you over at square one, really helped me stay focused. At every single turn, your resources (especially the two-week video at a crisis moment) NAILED exactly what I was going through and how to get past it. Ultimately it was the explanation of my choices: quitting or going back to the same level you were smoking or worse (not merely just one cigarette) made the difference between success and failure. It was as if you were reading my mind.


I was happy to find a site with views I have had for many years about quitting cigarettes. It would seem to me to be plain common sense. If one wants to quit smoking one would have to quit nicotine. I gave up smoking about 18 years ago after years of trying and finally got the twist on it. i just stopped end of story. I'm delighted to see not everyone is taken in by the drug companies. They seem to be an unconscionable lot. All a cod. Good luck to you all in your work.

Jane Jackson

Thank you for not lying to me! Everything you said about quitting was true. Thank You! Because of WhyQuit, I was able to quit and on the 31st of December, 2009, I will have six years of nicotine-free life. I am so glad that I was led to this web site. Thank God, I quit! God bless the whole world...no exceptions!

Paul Martin

After smoking for almost 10 years, I had my last cigarette on December 31st, 2007 and quit cold turkey. I'm approaching 2 years and am so happy I did it. I had quit a couple times before with 5 months being my previous record. I know I can never have just one. I learned that the hard way, thinking after 5 months I could control myself and just have one. Nope. What helped the most was just telling myself, "I'm not going to smoke today," Forget tomorrow and a year from now, just focus on right now. My uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer in November of 2007 so I decided it was time to quit for good (he passed in October 2008 at age 56).

Kristin Welt

Four years later, after going through chemo, surgery and radiation, I was still smoking. I knew it was bad and terrified my daughter. I finally decided to quit but was hoping to use some "easy" medication. I looked up Chantix online and when I read that nausea was a side effect, did not want to use it. I had more than enough nausea for one lifetime with chemo.

Somehow, in that same online search I found WhyQuit.com. I spent over two hours that day reading all the stories and supplemental materials. I set a quit date for the next day and have been nicotine free since that day in June 2008. I teach psychology in California community colleges and refer people to your site when I go over the Stress and Health chapters for my Intro Psychology classes.

Michelle Yount

On April 1st, 2009 I quit smoking cold turkey after visiting your website. Until that day I lacked the proper motivation to really quit. I sat in front of a unopened box of patches and felt like a pathetic addict with no control of my own life. I made up my mind I could do it and never looked back. I started playing around with cigarettes when I was 12 or 13, by 15 I was smoking a pack a day. I was 46 and smoking sometimes 2 1/2 packs a day when I quit. I did gain 20 lbs but I am working on that now that a year has gone by and no regrets or lapses.

Tim Hamlin

Just wanted to share that I have now been smoke free since Jan 1, 2009. The whyquit.com website was a huge help to me and I continue to recommend it to friends who have not found freedom from their addiction to nicotine. Easily the best quit smoking website I have ever found. So, thanks for helping me stop a 17 year habit/addiction. I love no longer being a slave to nicotine.

Brian Heller

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Written 05/31/10 and page reformatted 08/16/18 by John R. Polito