Why should I quit smoking?

Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health. Smoking can cause cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and many other health problems. Secondhand smoke can be dangerous too. It can cause lung cancer and heart disease in adults. It can make asthma worse or cause ear infections in kids.

You’ll see benefits as soon as you quit smoking. Your heart rate and blood pressure will go down. You’ll breathe easier. It will be easier to exercise. Your sense of smell and taste will be better. You’ll lower your risk of cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. You’ll even live longer!

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

Nicotine is a strong drug. Your body becomes addicted to nicotine when you smoke. You may have withdrawal symptoms or cravings when you stop smoking. You may become anxious or irritable. You might have trouble sleeping or want to eat more. These symptoms are usually worst the first week after quitting. The good news is nicotine withdrawal symptoms only last a few weeks for most people.

The routines and habits that go along with smoking can make it tough to quit too. Some people often smoke a cigarette when they drive, after a meal, or when they’re on the phone. Smoking can become a part of these routines. After you quit smoking these habits can be a trigger to make you want to smoke again. It’s important to separate smoking from these routines when you quit.

How can I make it easier to quit?

You don’t have to quit “cold turkey.” You can double or triple the chance that you’ll stop smoking if you use a medicine and counseling together. There are many medicines available. These medicines work in different ways to help manage nicotine withdrawal. Many can be bought off the shelves at your local pharmacy. Some require a prescription. Talk to your pharmacist or prescriber about what medicines may be right for you.

It is very important to have counseling when you quit. Medicines can help you cope with nicotine withdrawal. Counseling can help you develop skills to break smoking habits. There are lots of counseling options available. Many of these are free. Some options are local support groups, telephone quitlines, online services, and texting programs.

Start thinking now about how you plan to quit. Think about why you want to quit. Look at triggers that make you want to smoke. Plan for challenges you might face when trying to quit. Talk to your pharmacist about how to get help.

Where can I learn more?

Toll-free Quitlines and Websites:

In the U.S.: 1-800-QUIT-NOW(1-800-784-8669); http://smokefree.gov

In Canada: 1-877-513-5333; http://www.smokershelpline.ca

These websites include online support, live chat, and text messaging programs.