Smoking Cessation

Quitting smoking is important to your health and has many advantages. However, it is not always easy to quit since nicotine is a very addictive drug. Often times, people try 3 times or more before being able to quit. This document explains the best ways for you to prepare to quit smoking. Quitting takes hard work and a lot of effort, but you can do it.


  • You will live longer, feel better, and live better.

  • Your body will feel the impact of quitting smoking almost immediately.

  • Within 20 minutes, blood pressure decreases. Your pulse returns to its normal level.

  • After 8 hours, carbon monoxide levels in the blood return to normal. Your oxygen level increases.

  • After 24 hours, the chance of having a heart attack starts to decrease. Your breath, hair, and body stop smelling like smoke.

  • After 48 hours, damaged nerve endings begin to recover. Your sense of taste and smell improve.

  • After 72 hours, the body is virtually free of nicotine. Your bronchial tubes relax and breathing becomes easier.

  • After 2 to 12 weeks, lungs can hold more air. Exercise becomes easier and circulation improves.

  • The risk of having a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or lung disease is greatly reduced.

  • After 1 year, the risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.

  • After 5 years, the risk of stroke falls to the same as a nonsmoker.

  • After 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is cut in half and the risk of other cancers decreases significantly.

  • After 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease drops, usually to the level of a nonsmoker.

  • If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

  • The people you live with, especially any children, will be healthier.

  • You will have extra money to spend on things other than cigarettes.


You may want to talk about your answers with your caregiver.

  • Why do you want to quit?

  • If you tried to quit in the past, what helped and what did not?

  • What will be the most difficult situations for you after you quit? How will you plan to handle them?

  • Who can help you through the tough times? Your family? Friends? A caregiver?

  • What pleasures do you get from smoking? What ways can you still get pleasure if you quit?

Here are some questions to ask your caregiver:

  • How can you help me to be successful at quitting?

  • What medicine do you think would be best for me and how should I take it?

  • What should I do if I need more help?

  • What is smoking withdrawal like? How can I get information on withdrawal?


  • Set a quit date.

  • Change your environment by getting rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, and lighters in your home, car, or work. Do not let people smoke in your home.

  • Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not.


You have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways.

  • Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and need their support. Ask them not to smoke around you.

  • Get individual, group, or telephone counseling and support. Programs are available at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.

  • Spiritual beliefs and practices may help some smokers quit.

  • Download a "quit meter" on your computer to keep track of quit statistics, such as how long you have gone without smoking, cigarettes not smoked, and money saved.

  • Get a self-help book about quitting smoking and staying off of tobacco.


  • Distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or occupy your time with a task.

  • Change your normal routine. Take a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place.

  • Reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book.

  • Plan something enjoyable to do every day. Reward yourself for not smoking.

  • Explore interactive web-based programs that specialize in helping you quit.


Medicines can help you stop smoking and decrease the urge to smoke. Combining medicine with the above behavioral methods and support can greatly increase your chances of successfully quitting smoking.

  • Nicotine replacement therapy helps deliver nicotine to your body without the negative effects and risks of smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy includes nicotine gum, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, and skin patches. Some may be available over-the-counter and others require a prescription.

  • Antidepressant medicine helps people abstain from smoking, but how this works is unknown. This medicine is available by prescription.

  • Nicotinic receptor partial agonist medicine simulates the effect of nicotine in your brain. This medicine is available by prescription.

Ask your caregiver for advice about which medicines to use and how to use them based on your health history. Your caregiver will tell you what side effects to look out for if you choose to be on a medicine or therapy. Carefully read the information on the package. Do not use any other product containing nicotine while using a nicotine replacement product.


Most relapses occur within the first 3 months after quitting. Do not be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before finally quitting. You may have symptoms of withdrawal because your body is used to nicotine. You may crave cigarettes, be irritable, feel very hungry, cough often, get headaches, or have difficulty concentrating. The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when you first quit, but they will go away within 10–14 days.

To reduce the chances of relapse, try to:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of successfully quitting.

  • Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume. Once you quit smoking, the amount of caffeine in your body increases and can give you symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and anxiety.

  • Avoid smokers because they can make you want to smoke.

  • Do not let weight gain distract you. Many smokers will gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. You can always lose the weight gained after you quit.

  • Find ways to improve your mood other than smoking.