How to Quit Smoking

Hello and welcome! Today I would like to give some facts about smoking tobacco products and advice on how to quit smoking. If you personally do not smoke, more than likely someone you care about does. Smoking is a major public health concern that we can hopefully one day eradicate.

It used to be very socially acceptable to smoke, however, nowadays not so much. It is hard to believe, but doctors and nurses used to smoke out in the open in hospitals! Much has changed since those days but there is still a lot of work to be done. Remember, no one is too old to quit smoking.

Facts about smoking

  • Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death
  • Smoking increases the risk for serious health problems and damages almost every organ in the body
  • Billions of dollars are spent each year for tobacco advertising
  • Tobacco contains a mixture of about 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which cause cancer
  • Approximately 3,000 young people try their first cigarette each day
  • Secondhand smoke exposure can cause major health problems in both children and adults

Source: CDC

Benefits of quitting smoking

Many of us are aware that cigarette smoking causes major health problems. Most notably, smoking is known to cause lung cancer, other diseases of the lung (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD), heart disease, and stroke. Interestingly, smoking is also a major cause of bladder cancer.

Smoking also greatly affects pregnant women and their newborns. Women who smoke may have a more difficult time becoming pregnant. Smoking while pregnant increases the risk for pregnancy complications, birth defects, and low birth weight. Also, babies with mothers who smoke are three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Read more about smoking in pregnancy here.

Stopping smoking now provides many health benefits including

  • Decreased risk for many cancers
  • Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Reduced risk of heart disease within 1-2 years of quitting
  • Decreased risk of respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath)
  • Reduced risk of lung disease such as COPD which is a major cause of death in the United States
  • Reduced risk of infertility and pregnancy complications

How do I quit?

Quitting smoking is not an easy thing to do. It often takes a couple tries because the habit is hard to break. Smokers are addicted to nicotine, a drug naturally found in tobacco. People often start smoking again due to nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, increased hunger leading to weight gain, and trouble concentrating.

There are many treatments that have been proven to work in helping people quit smoking. They include:

  • Counseling from a doctor/provider
  • Individual, group, or telephone counseling
  • Behavioral therapies (working on coping skills)
  • Ongoing counseling on a regular basis
  • Programs that are delivered to a mobile phone

Many health insurance companies and workplaces offer free health coaching with a nurse or other qualified provider who can help you to quit smoking. Make sure to find out if this is available to you!

There are also medications that are effective in quitting smoking. Nicotine replacement via patch or gum are available as prescription or over the counter. Other prescription medications include Wellbutrin or Chantix. Talk with your provider to see what is right for you.

You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) if you want help quitting. This is a free telephone support service that can help people who want to stop smoking or using tobacco. Callers are routed to their state quitlines, which offer several types of quit information and services.

Also check out resources for quitting from the CDC.

What about electronic cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers if used as a complete substitution for cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are deemed to be unsafe for youth, pregnant women, and adults who do not currently smoke. You should not start using e-cigarettes if you do not currently smoke.

We still have a lot to learn about electronic cigarettes and their effects on long-term health. They do contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals. Personally, I feel they are likely better to use than smoking cigarettes.

I hope this was helpful. Anyone have additional tips? What has helped you on your journey to quit smoking?

Disclaimer: Information contained in this post should not be substituted for medical advice. If you think you are having a problem, contact your own provider who knows your health history.