Smoking tobacco is a major cause of ill health and disease in the Northern Territory (NT).

What happens when you quit

When you quit smoking, your body will go through the following process:

  • after eight hours - excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood
  • after five days - most nicotine is out of your body
  • after one week - your sense of taste and smell get better
  • after four weeks - your blood flow improves
  • after three months - your lungs work better
  • after 12 months - your risk of disease is halved
  • after five years - your risk of stroke is greatly reduced.

Find out more information on tobacco and your health.


If you are thinking about quitting smoking, you should make a plan and stick to it.

It can help to have someone else to quit with, or get help with quitting from your doctor or other organisations.

Quitting methods

There are several ways you can quit smoking, including:

  • going cold turkey - giving up suddenly
  • gradual approach - cutting down the number of cigarettes you have each day until you no longer smoke
  • medication and nicotine replacements - these can be taken to reduce withdrawal symptoms.


Cravings only last a few minutes and get less over time. When you have a craving it will pass. 

When you have a craving you should try the 'four Ds':

  • delay
  • deep breathe
  • drink water
  • do something else.

Withdrawal symptoms

When you quit smoking you may have some symptoms while you body begins to repair and return to normal.

These include all of the following:

  • coughing
  • cravings
  • mood swings
  • difficulty concentrating
  • tingles in hands and feet
  • anxiety and restlessness
  • upset stomach
  • headaches
  • feeling hungry.

It can take 10 to 30 days for these symptoms to disappear.

You should talk to your doctor or general practitioner (GP) to find out about getting help to quit smoking.

They can give you advice on nicotine replacement therapy and other medicine to help you quit.

Your doctor or GP can complete a Quitline referral form for a counsellor to call you at a convenient time.

NT Quitline

Quitline is a free telephone counselling and support service.

You can call 13 78 48 (13 QUIT) Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 8pm, and Saturdays from 2pm to 5pm.

Outside these hours, you can leave a message and a counsellor will call you back.

You can also register for a call back or chat online at the Quitline website.

Quitline NT is also on Facebook.

What Quitline counsellors do

Quitline counsellors can:

  • help you make a plan to quit or cut down smoking
  • talk about the different ways to quit and help you to find a way that suits you
  • send you information about quitting smoking
  • give you follow up phone calls to support you while you are quitting.

Other useful tools to help quit smoking

Get the following apps from the Quitnow website:

Find out about the Quitskills training program on the Cancer Council website.

Where you can't smoke in the NT 

Under Northern Territory (NT) law, you can't smoke in any of the following places:

  • any enclosed public place, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and casinos
  • any enclosed workplace
  • in the non-smoking areas of outdoor dining areas at liquor licensed premises
  • any outdoor public event, except where smoking areas are identified
  • non-liquor licensed outdoor dining areas of cafes and restaurants.

Where you can smoke in the NT

You can smoke in all of the following places:

  • in most outdoor areas
  • in the smoking area of an outdoor dining area, including a courtyard, footpath or balcony area
  • two metres away from a doorway and three metres from an air conditioning unit
  • in your own home if it is not being used for commercial childcare, accessed by the public or clients and has no employees
  • in group or shared accommodation you may be able to smoke in your own private room
  • in the designated smokers room on an oil rig.

If someone smokes where they can't

If you are in a non-smoking venue or area and you see someone smoking, you should point out to them the area is non-smoking.

You should tell the owner or manager of the business, who must take steps. They can call the NT Police who can issue an on-the-spot fine.

If someone is smoking in a workplace, work health officers can issue on-the-spot fines.

Children have less developed airways and breathe faster than adults which means they breathe in more harmful chemicals.

If children breathe in second-hand smoke, they are at risk of all of the following:

  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • childhood asthma and other chronic respiratory symptoms
  • acute lower respiratory tract infections in infancy and early childhood
  • childhood cancers
  • complications if they need a general anaesthetic
  • decreased lung function
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
  • reduced sense of smell
  • long-term developmental effects
  • dental problems.

Children and smoking in cars

Under the law, you must not smoke in a car with children under 16 years old.

You can receive a penalty or on-the-spot-fine from the Northern Territory (NT) Police if you break this law.

Smoking in a small space like a car increases the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, even with the window wound down.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices that do not burn tobacco, but use vapour.

It is against the law to use vapour that contains nicotine.

New regulations

From 1 July 2019, the NT Government will regulate e-cigarette products in the same way as tobacco products. This includes e-cigarettes and vaping equipment.

To find out more, go to the Department of Health website.

Last updated: 15 March 2019

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