We want to be sure that you know that it is NEVER TOO LATE to quit. To help us take care of you, we strongly encourage you to quit tobacco.
- Make a plan of action with your health care provider to quit any form of tobacco: cigarettes, cigars, pipes or spit tobacco.
- Stick to your “quit date.”
- List reasons to quit and keep them with you.
- Get support from family and friends.
- Consider using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and/or prescriptions to decrease cravings. Evidence shows medications can approximately double your chance of quitting.
- Seek support: groups, telephone counseling programs, or online support sites.
- It may take more than one attempt to quit.
- It’s never too late to quit.
Tools to quit
- Over-the-counter medications: Nicotine patch, gum, or lozenge
- Prescription medications: Nicotine inhaler or spray, Bupropion SR (Zyban®), varenicline (Chantix®)
- Telephone or online support sites
Benefits of quitting over time (from the American Cancer Society)
- 20 minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours: Carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months: Circulation improves. Your lung function increases.
- 1 to 9 months: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- 1 year: Your risk of having coronary artery disease is half that of a continuing tobacco user.
- 5 years: Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-tobacco user 2 to 5 years after quitting.
- 10 years: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a continuing tobacco user. The risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.
- 15 years: Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-tobacco user.
Steps to help you quit tobacco
- Get ready
- Set a quit date, ideally within 2 weeks.
- Remove tobacco products from your environment. Get rid of ALL tobacco, matches, lighters and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.
- Don’t let others use tobacco in your home.
- Review past quit attempts: What helped? What led to relapse?
- Anticipate challenges, particularly during the critical first few weeks, including nicotine withdrawal.
- Identify reasons for quitting and benefits of quitting.
- Stop buying tobacco.
- Identify your triggers; pay attention to when and why you use tobacco.
- Clean your clothes to get rid of the smell of smoke.
- Get support and encouragement
- Get support from family, friends, and coworkers. Tell them you are quitting and ask them to support you.
- Get individual, group, or telephone counseling.
- Learn new skills and behaviors
- Distract yourself from urges to use tobacco by talking to someone, going for a walk, or getting busy with a task.
- Change your routine by taking different routes to work, drink tea instead of coffee. Eat a different breakfast or eat at a new location.
- Try stress relief activities such as: stretching, exercise, or reading.
- Think of other things to hold in your hand instead of a cigarette, pipe or cigar.
- Drink a lot of water or other fluids.
- Eat a healthy diet and stay active.
- Think of uses for the extra money you will save when you stop buying tobacco.
- Consider medication and use it correctly
- Make an appointment with your health care provider for a prescription for varenicline (Chantix®), Bupropion SR (Zyban®), nicotine inhaler, or nasal spray if needed. Also discuss over-the-counter nicotine patch, gum, or lozenge.
- Insurance may cover prescription and/or over-the-counter medications; check with your provider.
- Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations
- Avoid alcohol: it commonly leads to tobacco relapse.
- Other tobacco users: Being around smoke can make you want to use tobacco. Avoid situations where others will be using tobacco.
- Weight gain: Many tobacco users gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active.
- Bad mood or depression: You may feel differently in the first few weeks after quitting. See your healthcare provider if it does not improve.
- Total abstinence is essential. Once you quit, don’t use tobacco – not even once!
- You may need to try many times before you quit for good. KEEP TRYING!
- If you “slip up” DON’T GIVE UP. Immediately get back on track.
Diseases linked to tobacco use:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Poor wound healing
- Lung disease
- Medication reactions
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Pregnancy/Birth complications
Cancers linked to tobacco use:
Web resources and tools: