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Heart and Vascular Center

How to Quit Smoking

Reasons to quit

By quitting smoking, you will:

  • Prolong your life
  • Reduce your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, ulcers, gum disease and other conditions.)
  • Feel healthier (After quitting, you won't cough as much, have as many sore throats and you will increase your stamina.)
  • Look better (Quitting can help you prevent face wrinkles, get rid of stained teeth and improve your skin.)
  • Improve your sense of taste and smell
  • Save money

How to quit

  • Pick a date to stop smoking.
  • List your reasons for quitting.
  • Stop smoking in certain situations (such as at your work break or after dinner) before actually quitting.
  • Keep busy doing things that make it hard to smoke, like working in the yard, washing dishes and being more active.
  • Fight the urge by going places where smoking isn't allowed and staying around people who don't smoke.
  • Avoid situations that tempt you to smoke, like drinking coffee or alcohol.
  • Find a substitute to reach for instead of a cigarette. Try a sugar-free hard candy or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Remind yourself that you're likely to feel better if you stop smoking.
  • Tell family members and friends that you need to quit smoking and could really use their support. If your husband, wife, son or daughter smokes, ask them to quit with you.
  • Ask your health care provider about using nicotine gum or patches. Some people find these aids helpful.
  • Join a smoking cessation support group or program.
  • Don't throw in the towel if you smoke a cigarette. Just resolve not to let it happen again.

There's no one way to quit that works for everyone. To quit smoking, you must be ready emotionally and mentally. You must also want to quit smoking for yourself, and not to please your friends or family. Plan ahead.

Craving cigarettes after you quit is normal!

  • Don't carry a lighter, matches or cigarettes.
  • Ask other smokers to not smoke in your presence.
  • Don't focus on what you are missing. Think about the healthier way of life you are gaining.
  • Keep yourself busy.
  • Don't substitute food or sugar-based products for cigarettes. Eat low-calorie, healthful foods (such as carrot or celery sticks, sugar-free hard candies) or chew gum when the urge to smoke strikes so you can avoid weight gain.
  • It is best to drink plenty of fluids, but to limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They can trigger urges to smoke.
  • Work exercise into your daily routine.
  • Get support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.
  • Reward yourself for these milestones. You deserve it!

Quitting becomes easier after the first few days.

  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling irritable, hungry, coughing often, getting headaches or having difficulty concentrating occur because the body is used to nicotine, the active addicting agent within cigarettes.
  • These symptoms occur because the body is adjusting to the lack of nicotine.
  • The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when one is first quitting but will go away within 10 to 14 days. It is good to remember that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat than the major diseases that smoking can cause.

Don't be discouraged if you have a relapse. Keep trying!!

Seventy-five percent of people who quit subsequently relapse. Most smokers quit three times before they are successful.