Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Quitting tobacco


Quitting tobacco is not easy as tobacco dependence is a cluster of behavioural, cognitive and physiological phenomena. Very few tobacco users can successfully quit the habit in their first attempt.

Social norms do not support tobacco users to quit in some high-burden countries. For example, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) shows that:

  • In China: only 23.2% of Chinese adults believe smoking causes serious illnesses. Only 24.6% believe exposure to tobacco smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adults and lung illnesses in children. Only 16.1% of current adult smokers plan to or are thinking about quitting in the next 12 months.
  • In India, about 26% of current adult smokers plan to or are thinking about quitting in the next 12 months.

Evidence-based support to quit tobacco use (tobacco dependence treatment) includes methods from simple medical advice to pharmacotherapy, along with quit lines and counselling. However, tobacco users have low levels of awareness of the evidence about these tobacco dependence treatment interventions.


Quitting tobacco is the best thing that tobacco users can do to protect the health of themselves and others. Tobacco users need to absorb two beliefs to make themselves ready to quit. They are:

  • Quitting is important to me and I want to be a non-tobacco user.
  • I have a chance of quitting successfully.

Those who are not ready to quit should remember the following facts:

What kind of support is available

Evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment methods (brief advice from health professionals, toll-free quit line services, nicotine replacement therapy, etc) are available in different countries. For country data on the availability of brief advice, quit lines and pharmacotherapy, see the latest WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.