Smoking cessation is possible! In the U.S., there are more former smokers than current smokers. Quitting often takes several tries, but the health benefits make it worth the effort. And, there is help available, so it's not something anyone has to do on their own. Here are some important things to understand:
Is smoking addictive?
Most people who smoke become addicted to nicotine, a drug that is found in tobacco. It is the most widespread addiction in the U.S. as more people are addicted to nicotine than any other drug. Those who try to quit smoking may suffer from withdrawal symptoms that sometimes lead them to abandon the process. However, several attempts often lead to success, as statistics show. Perhaps it is the motivation of the health benefits of quitting that finally provide the will to overcome the withdrawal process.
Nicotine Withdrawal symptoms
- Feeling irritable, angry, or anxious
- Difficulty concentrating
- Craving for tobacco products
- Hunger cravings (may lead to weight gain)
Health benefits of quitting smoking
Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals! Hundreds of these are harmful, and at least 70 can cause cancer. Quitting can prolong life and enhance quality of life. The earlier one quits, the better, but it’s never too late. Here are some of the health benefits of quitting:
- Lower risk for cancer, especially lung cancer
- Lower risk for heart disease (within 1-2 yrs of quitting), stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of blood vessels)
- Decreased respiratory symptoms (cough, wheezing, shortness of breath)
- Decreased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic respiratory condition that often requires constant oxygen administration
- Decreased risk for infertility (smoking can lead to infertility problems as well as decreased birth weight of baby if she does get pregnant and smokes)
How can I quit?
Most former smokers report that they quit on their own without outside intervention. However, there are some methods that have proven to be effective for those who need a little help:
- Behavioral: A conversation with a doctor, smoking cessation counselor, behavioral therapist, and/or hotline have reportedly been helpful
- Medication: Nicotine replacement such as the nicotine patch (available over the counter or prescription), nicotine gum, lozenge, inhaler, e-cigarettes or nasal spray are available, as well as non-nicotine medications that a health care provider can prescribe can be effective
Where can I get help?
At any time, you can call the health center for information and resources on smoking cessation. There are very helpful phone/online services available as well
- Support, advice, and counseling from experienced coaches
- Help developing a personalized “quit plan”
- Practical information on how to quit, and how to cope with nicotine withdrawal
- Advice on how to get free or discounted medications
- Referrals to other resources, or mailing of self-help materials
- Quit smoking resources at the CDC’s smoking and tobacco use website
- Read stories about former smokers and their reasons for quitting
- The I’m Ready to Quit! website has many helpful links
The CDC has a catalog of free self-help materials about quitting from which you can order. Just visit CDC’s Online Publications Catalog
Please call us at the Health Center with any questions or a desire for support in your efforts towards smoking cessation.