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How To Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the hardest habits to break. About half of all those who have ever smoked have been able to quit, and most of those (about 70%) who still smoke want to quit. Here are some of the best ways to stop smoking.

Keep Trying:

It takes most smokers about 8 tries before they are finally able to fully quit. So, the more often you try and fail, the better your chance of quitting the next time! So, don't give up!

Go Cold Turkey:

Most ex-smokers quit cold turkey. Trying to cut back gradually doesn't seem to work as well, perhaps because it continues the smoking habit. Also, it is possible to fool yourself by inhaling more while smoking fewer cigarettes. This results in the same amount of nicotine in your body!

Get Support:

Support programs can make an important difference, especially for the heavy smoker. These groups offer lectures, methods to change your behavior and peer support. Call the free national Quitline for more information. 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669). Low-cost or free programs are offered by many hospitals, local chapters of the American Lung Association (800-586-4872) and the American Cancer Society (800-227-2345). Support at home is important too. Non-smokers can help by offering praise and encouragement. If the smoker fails to quit, encourage them to try again!

Over-The-Counter Medicines:

For those who can't quit on their own, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) may make quitting much easier. Certain aids such as the nicotine patch, gum and lozenge are available without a prescription. However, it is best to use these under the guidance of your doctor. The skin patch provides a steady supply of nicotine to the body. Nicotine gum and lozenge gives temporary bursts of low levels of nicotine. Both methods take the edge off the craving for cigarettes. WARNING: If you feel symptoms of nicotine overdose, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, or fast heartbeat, stop using these and see your doctor.

Prescription Medicines:

After evaluating your smoking patterns and prior attempts at quitting, your doctor may offer a prescription medicine such as bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin), varenicline (Chantix, Champix), a niocotine inhaler or nasal spray. Each has its unique advantage and side effects which your doctor can review with you.

Health Benefits Of Quitting:

The benefits of quitting start right away and keep improving the longer you go without smoking:

  • 20 minutes: blood pressure and pulse return to normal

  • 8 hours: oxygen levels return to normal

  • 2 days: ability to smell and taste begins to improve as damaged nerves start to regrow

  • 2-3 weeks: circulation and lung function improves

  • 1-9 months: decreased cough, congestion and shortness of breath; less tired

  • 1 year: risk of heart attack decreases by half

  • 5 years: risk of lung cancer decreases by half; risk of stroke becomes the same as a non-smoker

For information about how to quit smoking, visit the following links:

  • National Cancer Institute , “ Clearing the Air, Quit Smoking Today ” - an online booklet.


  • QuitNet


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