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Support Is Available to Help with the Challenge of Quitting

Quitting nicotine addiction is tough. Some say it’s more difficult than quitting heroin. It can take a number of attempts before achieving success, but with the right kind of help everyone can do it, and lots of effective mostly free resources are available that can make it easier to quit.

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Odds of Success Increase with Support

Many people quit smoking or vaping on their own, but the approximate odds of success increase dramatically with support. And these resources are often FREE!

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) like the nicotine patch and gum may be free or inexpensive, but effective free quit-nicotine (aka cessation) counseling is always available.

How Free Quit-Nicotine (Cessation) Counseling Helps

A tobacco cessation counselor can help you choose a day in the future that will be the best day to quit for you, and help you prepare for that day by…

  • Working with you to develop effective ways to resist cravings (short-term urges to vape/smoke)

  • Exploring alternate patterns of behavior that work for you to avoid habitual triggers to use tobacco

  • Helping you prepare to deal with the emotional stresses of quitting and staying quit

  • Providing extra support immediately after your quit day

  • Developing plans with you for how to avoid, or quickly recover from, relapses

If you prefer to gradually taper off your tobacco use prior to quitting, the counselor can help you manage that process safely and effectively, which can make your quit day less stressful. Counseling can also help if you want to cut down but aren’t yet ready to quit. Any steps in the right direction will help you to live a healthier life.


  • 5% succeed with no support

  • 10succeed with support from their medical provider

  • 20% succeed with quit-nicotine counseling (free)

  • 20% succeed with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or other medications (often free)

  • 35% succeed with NRT and quit-nicotine counseling

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How Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and Other Medications Help

NRTs are designed to provide a base level of nicotine in your body to help moderate the impact of nicotine withdrawal caused by quitting smoking or vaping. Different NRTs work differently, and often work well together to further increase your chances of success.

For example, the nicotine patch provides a steady amount of nicotine throughout the day, but sometimes that amount is not enough to guard against a strong craving. For those times, nicotine gum can be an effective way to temporarily boost the amount of nicotine in the body to help outlast the craving.

Two other medications that require a prescription help people to quit:

  • Bupropion/Zyban is an antidepressant that has been found to dramatically decrease cravings for cigarettes,

  • Varenicline/Chantix was developed specifically to help people quit tobacco. These medications are sometimes combined with NRT and are usually only used for a short time (around 8-16 weeks)

Your tobacco cessation counselor and medical provider will help you to determine the medical support that works best for you.

Free Nicotine Patches



(May be virtual or in person)



UCSF’s Stop Smoking/Vaping/Chewing Class

The UCSF Fontana Tobacco Treatment Center runs a four session interactive program available to anyone in California. The class is run by three certified tobacco treatment specialists who are also a registered nurse, a pharmacist and a physician assistant. (415) 885-7895 or



Freedom From Smoking

The City of Berkeley’s Freedom From Smoking Program, developed by the American Lung Association, is available to anyone 18 or older who lives within 50 miles of Berkeley and is ready to quit. The 8-session program is held 2-3 times a year. (510) 981-5330 or

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Ash Kickers

Breathe California’s Ash Kickers program in San Jose is a 6-session program for adults that is generally held four times a year. Website: 


Kick It California


Kick It California,, provides support in multiple languages via chat, text, mobile apps, and phone (1-800-300-8086).  Some clients may be eligible to receive free nicotine patches. Call for more info.


This Is Quitting

This is Quitting is a national text messaging program designed to help youth 13 to 24 years old quit vaping. The program includes messages from other young people who have successfully quit. Text DITCHVAPE to 88709 or visit for more information.


Become An Ex

Become An Ex is a national online resource with multiple channels for success. They also provide an online “EX Community” of former smokers and people working on quitting who support each other through social media style posts.


Other Resources

Many other resources are available. Here is a recent article with a good list:

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