Smoking and How to Quit Smoking


Smoking and quitting smoking facts

  • Although smoking is an addiction, people can quit smoking.
  • Secondhand smoke is harmful to the health of children, unborn children, family members, and coworkers.
  • Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases.
  • The steps in quitting, each of which requires special attention and efforts by the smoker, are getting ready to quit, quitting, and staying quit.
  • A number of techniques are available to assist people who want to quit, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), behavioral modification, self-help literature, and prescription medications.
  • In nicotine replacement therapy, which is the cornerstone of most smoking cessation programs, another source of nicotine is substituted while the cigarettes are stopped. (The idea of nicotine replacement therapy is to eliminate both the smoking habit – although the addiction remains – and the symptoms of withdrawal. Then, the replacement nicotine is gradually stopped.)
  • Currently, three forms of nicotine replacement therapy are available over the counter: nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges, while two forms are available by prescription, an inhaler and a nasal spray.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy has about a 25% success rate, which increases to 35% or 40% when nicotine replacement therapy is combined with intensive behavioral counseling.
  • Nicotine-containing substances have side effects, interactions with other medications, effects on other medical conditions, and limitations in their use.
  • Varenicline (Chantix) is a prescription drug that can help adults quit smoking. It is believed to act on the same receptors (the sites where nicotine acts to produce its effects) in the brain as nicotine, resulting in activation (stimulation) of these receptors and blocking the ability of nicotine to attach to these receptors.
  • A prescription drug called bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) has also been found to be effective in helping people to stop smoking.
  • e-cigarettes are smokable, refillable or replaceable cartridges or cartridges that hold liquid that contains nicotine, solvents, and flavors.
  • The safety of e-cigarettes is not known at this time.

Quit Smoking

Methods to Help You Quit Smoking

Several methods are available to assist those who decide to quit smoking such as prescription smoking cessation aids, behavioral modification and self-help literature to quit smoking, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

What problems are caused by smoking?

By smoking, you can cause health problems not only for yourself but also for those around you.

Hurting Yourself

Smoking is an addiction. Tobacco contains nicotine, a drug that is addictive. The nicotine, therefore, makes it very difficult (although not impossible) to quit. In fact, since the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1964 report on the dangers of smoking, millions of Americans have quit. Still, approximately 484,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year from smoking-related illnesses. This represents almost 1 out of every 5 deaths. The reason for these deaths is that smoking greatly increases the risk of getting lung cancer, heart attack, chronic lung disease, stroke, and many other cancers. Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death. In addition, smoking is perhaps the most preventable cause of breathing (respiratory) diseases within the USA.

Hurting Others

Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, coworkers, and others who breathe the smoker’s cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke or passive smoke. Among infants up to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia each year. In addition, secondhand smoke from a parent’s cigarette increases a child’s chances for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, worsens asthma, and increases an infant’s risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Smoking is also harmful to the unborn fetus. If a pregnant woman smokes, her fetus is at an increased risk of miscarriage, early delivery (prematurity), stillbirth, infant death, and low birth weight. In fact, it has been estimated that if all women quit smoking during pregnancy, about 4,000 new babies would not die each year.

Exposure to passive smoke can also cause cancer. Research has shown that non-smokers who reside with a smoker have a 24% increase in risk for developing lung cancer when compared with other non-smokers. An estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year in the U.S. that are attributable to passive smoking, and an estimated 49,000 deaths each year in total from all smoking-related conditions occur as a result of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. If both parents smoke, a teenager is more than twice as likely to smoke as a teenager whose parents are both nonsmokers. Even in households where only one parent smokes, young people are more likely to start smoking.

What is addictive disease and why is smoking considered an addictive disease?

The term addictive disease or addiction describes a persistent habit that is harmful to the person. Thus, addiction is a chronic (long duration) disease with reliance on the substance causing the addiction. The addictive substance also causes the accompanying deterioration of a person’s physical and psychological health.

Psychologically, an individual’s behavior pattern establishes how the addictive substance is used. One type of behavior is compulsive behavior, which is an overwhelming and irresistible interest in use of the substance. For example, the compulsive addict makes sure that the substance is always available. Another type of behavior is habitual behavior, which is using the substance regularly or occasionally for the desirable effects. Physically, continuous use of the substance leads to dependence on the drug by the body. This dependence means that when the drug is discontinued, symptoms of withdrawal or distress occur.

Nicotine is the component of cigarettes that addicts. Almost immediately upon inhalation, the body responds to the nicotine. An individual feels relaxed, calmer, and happier than before the inhalation. These pleasant feelings reflect the physical side of addiction, but then, not smoking cigarettes causes a craving for more cigarettes, irritability, impatience, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms. Indeed, these symptoms are the symptoms of withdrawal from cigarettes. Moreover, with time, more and more nicotine is desired to produce the favorable effects and to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal.


What is the average weight gain for those who quit smoking?See Answer

What are the symptoms and signs of cigarette addiction?

The signs of addiction to cigarettes include:

  • Smoking more than seven cigarettes per day
  • Inhaling deeply and frequently
  • Smoking cigarettes containing nicotine levels more than 0.9mg
  • Smoking within 30 minutes of awakening in the morning
  • Finding it difficult to eliminate the first cigarette in the morning
  • Smoking frequently during the morning
  • Finding it difficult to avoid smoking in smoking-restricted areas
  • Needing to smoke even if sick and in bed

Why should someone quit smoking?

Quitting smoking makes a difference right away in the way you feel. You can taste and smell food better. Your breath smells better. Your cough goes away. These benefits happen for men and women of all ages, even those who are older. They happen for healthy people as well as those who already have a disease or condition caused by smoking.

Even more importantly, in the long run, quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, many other cancers (including laryngeal, oral cavity, stomach, esophageal, cervical, kidney, bladder, and colon cancers), heart disease, stroke, and other lung or breathing (respiratory) diseases (for example, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema). Smoking also increases the risk of peripheral vascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Moreover, ex-smokers have better health than current smokers. For example, ex-smokers have fewer days of illness, fewer health complaints, and less frequent bouts with chronic bronchitis and pneumonia than current smokers. People who quit smoking can actually reduce their risk of developing lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases.

Finally, quitting smoking saves money. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is approximately $6.28 a pack (depending on where you live). A smoker with a pack a day habit spends approximately $44.00 per week ($2,288 per year).

What are the steps in quitting?

First, one can do certain things to get ready to quit. Then, there are other things to do on the day of quitting. Finally, one can do things to help oneself to remain abstinent. (This is the hardest part.)

Getting ready to quit smoking

  • Set a date for quitting. If possible, plan to have a friend quit smoking with you. It’s best to pick a day within the next month. A date too far off in the future will give you a chance to procrastinate and postpone, while a date too soon may not allow you to make a plan for medications or support systems.
  • Notice when and why you smoke. Try to find the things in your daily life that you often do while smoking (such as drinking your morning cup of coffee or driving a car).
  • Change your smoking routines: Keep your cigarettes in a different place. Smoke with your other hand. Don’t do anything else when you are smoking. Think about how you feel when you smoke.
  • Smoke only in certain places, such as outdoors.
  • When you want a cigarette, wait a few minutes. Try to think of something to do instead of smoking. For example, you might chew gum or drink a glass of water.
  • Buy one pack of cigarettes at a time. Switch to a brand of cigarettes that you don’t like.

On the day you quit smoking

  • Get rid of all your cigarettes. Put away your ashtrays.
  • Change your morning routine. When you eat breakfast, don’t sit in the same place at the kitchen table. Stay busy.
  • When you get the urge to smoke, do something else instead.
  • Carry other things to put in your mouth, such as gum, hard candy, or a toothpick.
  • Reward yourself at the end of the day for not smoking. See a movie or go out and enjoy your favorite meal.
  • Tell your friends and family members about your decision to quit smoking, and ask for their support.

Staying quit

  • The expected consequences of quitting are irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, and of course, urges to smoke. So, if you feel more short-tempered or distracted or sleepier than usual, don’t worry because these feelings will pass.
  • Try to exercise. For example, go for a walk, ride a bike, if you have access to a pool swim, take a yoga or Pilates class.
  • Consider the positive things about quitting. For example, think about how much you like yourself as a non-smoker, the health benefits for you and your family, and the example you set for others around you. A positive attitude will help you through the tough times.
  • When you feel tense, try to keep busy and think about ways to ease the tenseness. Tell yourself that smoking won’t make it any better, and go do something else.
  • Eat regular meals because feeling hungry is sometimes mistaken for the desire to smoke.
  • Start putting the money you save by not buying cigarettes in a “money jar.”
  • Let others know that you have quit smoking. You will find that most people will support you. Many of your smoking friends may want to know how you quit. It’s good to talk to others about your quitting. In fact, people who stay off smoking for at least one year often have had very strong support from a companion or co-worker.
  • If you slip-up and smoke, don’t be discouraged or give up and return to your smoking habit. Many former smokers have tried to quit several times before they finally succeed.


What methods can help a person quit smoking?

Several methods are available to assist those who decide to quit smoking. The main categories of methods are:

  • Behavior modification and self help-literature to quit smoking
  • Self-help literature
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Prescription smoking cessation aids

Each method actually offers several different options. Moreover, combinations of the methods usually are necessary, and no one combination will work for everyone. In fact, it may be necessary to try several different methods or combinations of methods before success is achieved.

Behavioral modification and self-help literature to quit smoking

Due to the addictive nature of nicotine, some form of behavioral modification is often necessary for successful cessation of smoking. Educational programs, hypnosis, and aversion therapy (learning how to avoid cigarettes) are a few options. Smokers may be counseled to avoid specific triggers or situations that lead to smoking. For example, instead of awakening and grabbing a cigarette at the bedside or smoking immediately after a meal, people may be encouraged to replace the urge to smoke with another activity, such as, taking a walk or reading a book.

Numerous medical associations and societies, for example, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association, have developed brochures to help smokers quit smoking.

Nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) became available over the counter in the 1990’s. The purpose of nicotine replacement therapy is to substitute another source of nicotine while cigarettes are discontinued. By this means, the habit of smoking is eliminated, even though the addiction to nicotine remains intact. But at the same time, nicotine replacement therapy eliminates the symptoms of withdrawal that can trigger more smoking. In addition, behavioral counseling to change smoking-related behavior usually is necessary. Once cigarettes have been replaced during nicotine replacement therapy, the amount of nicotine is then gradually reduced.

Currently, there are different forms of nicotine replacement therapy available over-the-counter and include:

  • nicotine transdermal systems or patches (Nicoderm CQ and Nicotrol),
  • nicotine polacrilex resin or gum (Nicorette), and
  • nicotine lozenges (Commit).

Nicotine patches

The nicotine patch (Nicoderm CQ and Nicotrol) contains nicotine that is stored within a specially designed support or matrix. Once applied, the nicotine transdermal system steadily releases nicotine that is absorbed across the skin and into the blood stream. The gum contains nicotine that is released slowly upon chewing and “parking”. Parking refers to the action of shifting the gum to one side of the cheek after chewing in order to speed the absorption of nicotine. Nicotine lozenges contain nicotine within a hard candy that allows for slow release of nicotine as the candy dissolves in the mouth. A program for slowly weaning users from nicotine replacement products is provided by each product’s manufacturer.

The nicotine patch, Nicoderm CQ, is available in three strengths; 21, 14, and 7 mg. People are advised to begin with the 21 mg patch if they smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day or the 14 mg patch if they smoke less than 10 cigarettes per day. After six weeks of wearing the initial patch strength, the next lowest patch strength is worn for two weeks. If therapy was started with the 21 mg patch, an additional two weeks is required for the 7mg patch. A maximum of eight or 10 weeks, depending upon the strength of the first patch used, is recommended for a successful quitting program. The Nicoderm CQ patch can be worn for 16 hours (from awakening until bedtime) or 24 hours if the urge to smoke is great upon awakening.

Nicotrol is available as a 15 mg patch, and should be worn no more than 16 hours per day. Nicotrol may be worn for up to six weeks.

The side effects commonly seen with patches are:

  • burning,
  • itching, or redness at the site of the patch,
  • headache,
  • insomnia,
  • nervousness,
  • dizziness,
  • cough,
  • rash,
  • joint aches,
  • painful menstruation, and
  • changes in taste.


Nicorette gum

The gum, Nicorette, is available in a variety of flavors in 2 strengths; 4 and 2 mg. Patients are advised to begin with the 4 mg piece of gum if they smoke more than 25 cigarettes per day or the 2 mg piece if they smoke fewer than 7 cigarettes per day. No more than 20 pieces of the 4 mg strength or 30 pieces of the 2 mg strength should be chewed in one day. Initial weaning from treatment should begin after 2 to 3 months and be completed by 4 to 6 months. The most common side effects with Nicorette gum are:

  • aching jaws or soreness of the gums,
  • changes in taste,
  • abdominal (gastrointestinal) discomfort,
  • hiccups,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting, and
  • belching.

Nicotine lozenges

Commit nicotine lozenges are available in 2 or 4 mg doses. One dose consists of one lozenge, and no more than 20 doses should be consumed in one day. The manufacturers of Commit recommend choosing the proper dosage based upon when you usually have the first cigarette of your day. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, if you smoke within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning, you should use the stronger 4 mg dose. If not, you should use the 2 mg lozenges.

Biting or chewing nicotine lozenges instead of allowing them to dissolve can lead to indigestionor heartburn. You should not eat or drink anything while the lozenge is in your mouth. The lozenges will last for about 20-30 minutes when allowed to dissolve in the mouth. The mostcommonly reported side effects with nicotine lozenges are:

  • indigestion,
  • throat irritation,
  • soreness of the teeth or gums,
  • insomnia,
  • nausea,
  • hiccups,
  • coughing,
  • heartburn,
  • headache, and
  • flatulence.

How effective is nicotine replacement therapy?

Approximately 25% of patients successfully stop smoking with nicotine patch therapy. The success rate with nicotine gum is similar. There have not yet been studies to compare the effectiveness of nicotine lozenges to the patch or gum. The rate of success for nicotine replacement therapy increases 35% to 40% when intensive behavioral counseling is added.


What prescription products are available for smoking cessation?

There are products for cessation of smoking that are available by prescription only. Nicotine for nicotine replacement therapy is available by prescription as an inhaler or nasal spray (Nicotrol Inhaler and Nicotrol NS).These other forms of delivery of nicotine seem to work as well as the nicotine patches or gum. Prescription nicotine replacement products are more expensive thanover-the-counter products.

Varenicline (Chantix)

Varenicline (Chantix) is a prescription drug approved by the U.S. FDA to help adults quit smoking. Chantix does not contain nicotine, but is believed to act on the same receptors (the sites where nicotine acts to produce its effects) in the brain as nicotine, resulting in activation (stimulation) of these receptors and blocking the ability of nicotine to attach to these receptors. Chantix should be taken seven days prior to the date an individual desires to quit smoking, and most people will keep taking Chantix for up to 12 weeks.

Side effects of the Chantix may include:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • gas,
  • constipation, and
  • changes in dreaming.

Chantix is not appropriate for use by pregnant and breast-feeding women and people with certain chronic medical conditions.

bupropion (Zyban)

Bupropion (Zyban) is a medication that is used primarily for treating depression. This drug, however, also has been found to be effective in helping people to quit smoking, and has been approved by the U.S. FDA for use in smoking cessation in adults.

Other agents that have been tried for cessation of smoking include serotonin reuptake antagonists (drugs also used for depression) and the anti-hypertensive drugs clonidine(Catapres) and calcium channel blockers. Although these agents appear to be less effective than nicotine replacement therapy, they may be effective for some people.

How can nicotine-containing products be used safely?

Users of nicotine-containing products should understand that all of these products have side effects as well as effects on other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and heart disease. Furthermore, these products can have interactions with other prescribed medications such as pain relievers, blood thinners, and high blood pressure medications. And finally, they do have their limitations. The following guidelines are to help you safely use these products to achieve your goal of quitting smoking.

  1. Always read the labels and know the ingredients in the products. Never take more than the recommended dose without checking with your doctor first.
  2. If you are pregnant or nursinga baby, seek the advice of a health professional before using any nicotine-containing product.
  3. Do not use a nicotine-containing product if you continue to smoke, chew tobacco, use snuff, or other nicotine-containing products.
  4. Consult a physician before using nicotine-containing products if you are under 18 years of age and:
  • Have heart disease, an irregular heartbeat, or have had a recent heart attack (Nicotine can increase your heart rate.)
  • Have high blood pressure that is not controlled with medication (Nicotine can increase your blood pressure.)
  • Have a history of, or currently have, inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis) or ulcers of the stomach or duodenum (peptic ulcer disease)
  • Take insulin for diabetes.
  • Take any prescription medications (Nicotine interacts with some medications, such asaspirin, some medications for the heart, and female hormones to decrease their levels in the blood.)
  • Have a skin disorder, such as dermatitis, which may increase the likelihood of skin reactions by the skin to the patch
  1. People should stop using nicotine-containing products and see their physician if they have or develop:
  • Mouth, tooth, or jaw problems (applies to Nicorette gum)
  • Irregular heartbeats or palpitations
  • Symptoms of nicotine overdose, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, and rapid heartbeat
  • Severe rash, redness, swelling, burning, or itching at the site of the patch

What are e-cigarettes?

e-Cigarettes are smokable, refillable containers or cartridges that contain fluid consisting of solvents, flavors, and varying amounts of nicotine. Inhaling from the devices is known as “vaping.” Negative pressure on the cartridge created by inhaling triggers a battery-powered heating and vaporization of the solution. The composition of the fluid in e-cigarettes varies depending upon the manufacturer.

Is an e-cigarette harmful?

There is little scientific information that determines how safe or unsafe e-cigarettes may be. Nicotine in any form is known to be addictive, and nicotine addiction can develop from using e-cigarettes. Nicotine has been shown to cause adverse health effects including:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • abdominal pain, and
  • eye irritation.

More serious effects can occur with high doses of nicotine, such as:

  • increased heart rate,
  • high blood pressure,
  • seizures,
  • coma, and
  • even death.

The US Food and Drug Administration has reported that cancer-causing nitrosamines have been detected in some e-cigarettes. Further, poison centers have reported numerous cases of poisonings of small children from consuming the liquid in the cartridges of e-cigarettes.

Is secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes harmful?

e-Cigarettes expel vapors that contain nicotine, which is known to be addictive. Depending on the composition of the fluid in the cartridge, nitrosamines or other dangerous chemicals may also be expelled. It is not known at this time how significant the risk is to the health of those who breathe secondhand vapors from e-cigarettes.

Are e-cigarettes safe to use during pregnancy?

Little is known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, but nicotine has been shown to be harmful to the developing fetus. Nicotine narrows blood vessels and interferes with circulation of blood to the fetus. It can interfere with development of the fetal brain and may harm fetal lung function. It also increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Doctors recommend that pregnant women abstain from both smoking and e-cigarette use.

What is in the future for smoking?

Health care workers have become extremely active in publicizing the negative effects of smoking. In fact, health care workers have been instrumental in passing various legislation to limit smoking in public. As a result, the proportion of people in the US who smoke has dropped from 40.4% in 1965 to around 17% in 2013 (data from the US Department of Health).

This reduction in the percent of people who smoke has been significantly less in women than in men. From 1965 to 2010, smoking among men dropped from 50.2% to 20.5% while during the same period, smoking among women dropped from 31.9% to 15.3%. So, in the future, efforts need to be made to understand and eliminate this difference between the genders.

One interesting area of the current research on smoking is the study of the population distribution of the genes for smoking (genetic epidemiology). (Genes determine an individual’s inherited characteristics.) Only a small fraction of individuals who start smoking as an adolescent will actually become nicotine dependent. So, what determines which individuals will become nicotine-dependent? Investigators have found that smoking initiation (the obligatory first step) and the development of nicotine dependence are both influenced by genetic factors. The genetic factors appear to play a larger role in nicotine dependence than in smoking initiation. The next step will be to identify these genes and learn how they work in order to facilitate the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies for tobacco addiction.

Teen smoking rates remain of concern. In 2011 19% of high school girls and 28% of boys had used some form of tobacco in the prior month.. According to the American Cancer Society, the majority of cigarette use- in almost 90% of people who smoke- begins before a person reaches 18 years of age. Very few people start smoking after age 25. Statistics show that 99% of adult smokers had started by age 26. Education of the at-risk teen population is therefore critical for prevention of tobacco use. Various celebrities and activist groups actively promote campaigns aimed at a teen audience that educate about the consequences of smoking and offer advice on smoking cessation and prevention. While teen smoking rates increased during the 1990s (36% of teens smoked in 1997), prevention and education campaigns have brought about a decrease in teen smoking in recent years.

There are no proven ways to reverse the clock, but there is one known way to look older than your years: start smoking. Smoking can change your appearance by altering your teeth, hair, and skin. Aside from your appearance, smoking weakens your heart, lungs, and bones; and reduces fertility. Look at these two photos. One of these identical twins is a smoker; the other is not. Can you spot the difference?

Signs of a Tobacco Smoker

The twin on the right smoked for 14 years (a half-pack a day); her counterpart on the left is a nonsmoker. One of the characteristic signs is the looseness of the undereye skin, making her appear years older than her twin sister. This is one sign of skin damaged by smoking. The twin on the right further damaged her skin over time by repeated sun exposure.

Uneven Skin Tone

Smoking affects the blood vessels, which deliver oxygen and nutrients to the entire body. When the skin is deprived of these essential nutrients, changes begin to develop, even at an early age. Smokers can appear pale or have uneven skin tone as a result of their nicotine habit.

Sagging Skin and Wrinkles

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic (known to cause cancer). Others are known to damage collagen and elastin, two components of the skin. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can result in skin damage. Sagging of the skin and deeper wrinkles are two consequences.

Sagging Arms and Breasts

Smoking can affect the skin elsewhere on the body as well. Damage to elastin fibers can cause sagging and drooping. Vulnerable areas include the breasts and upper arms.

Lines and Wrinkles Around the Lips

The damage to elastin in the skin is just one way that cigarette smoke affects the skin around the mouth. Another way is the development of wrinkles around the mouth from the act of smoking. These two factors together lead to early aging signs around the mouth.

Age Spots

This picture again shows identical twins, with half of the photo coming from each individual. The twin on the right had a long history of both smoking and sunbathing, in contrast to her sister. The difference is obvious. Age spots can develop in anyone after prolonged and repeated sun exposure, but studies suggest that smokers are more susceptible to the development of age spots.

Damaged Gums and Teeth

Yellow teeth are an obvious sign of smoking. But smokers experience other oral and dentals problems as well. Gum disease, bad breath, and tooth loss are all more common in people who smoke.

Stained Nails and Fingers

Tobacco stains the skin of the nails and hands. This can be a telltale sign of a chronic smoker. Fortunately, this discoloration usually fades after you have stopped smoking.

Hair Loss

Smoking can worsen the natural process of hair thinning that occurs as we age. Some research shows that baldness is more common in men who smoke; studies from Taiwan show that male-pattern baldness risk increases in Asian men who smoke.


Cataracts are opaque areas on the lens of the eye that interfere with vision. Effective treatment can mean that surgery is required. Smoking increases the likelihood that you will develop cataracts.


Smokers also have an increased risk of getting psoriasis, an unsightly and often uncomfortable skin condition. Psoriasis is characterized by thick, scaly skin patches that are most commonly seen on the elbows, scalp, hands, back, or feet.

Eye Wrinkles (Crow’s Feet)

The outside eye wrinkles affectionately termed “crow’s feet” develop earlier in smokers than in nonsmokers. These wrinkles also tend to be deeper in those who smoke. Squinting to keep smoke out of your eyes only worsens the tendency to develop wrinkles around the eyes. On top of all this, there is damage to the internal skin components because of the lack of nutrient and oxygen delivery to the skin.

Improve Your Looks By Quitting

After you quit smoking, blood flow improves. Consequently, your skin starts to receive more oxygen and begins to look healthier than before. Your teeth may get whiter and tobacco stains should disappear from your fingers and nails.

Battling Skin Damage: Creams

Any time you quit smoking, you’ve taken a healthy step toward resisting the signs of skin aging. Topical retinoids and antioxidants are among the products you can use to improve the appearance of your skin. Wearing sunscreen every time you are outdoors also helps prevent further damage.

Battling Skin Damage: Procedures

Some ex-smokers opt for cosmetic procedures to improve their damaged skin. Laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels can remove outer skin layers where damage is most obvious. Some doctors recommend that patients treat themselves to this type of procedure after quitting, suggesting that it provides strong motivation to stay tobacco-free.

Brittle Bones

While the effects of smoking on the lungs are widely understood, it might surprise some smokers to know that they are also damaging their bones. Smoking raises the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Fractures of the spine can cause an abnormal curvature and “hunchback” appearance.

Heart Disease and ED

Narrowing of the coronary arteries of the heart is one of the most dangerous consequences of smoking. Since smoking also raises blood pressure and makes blood more likely to clot, the risk of a heart attack is dramatically increased. Smoking can also affect blood flow in other ways. Erectile dysfunction is one consequence of altered blood flow in men who smoke.

Reduced Athletic Ability

With all its effects on the heart and circulation, it’s obvious that smoking and athletics don’t mix. Increased shortness of breath and poor circulation aren’t going to boost athletic performance. Quitting smoking is one way to ensure performance improvement in any sport.

Reproductive Issues

Not only do female smokers have a harder time conceiving, but their risk of problems in pregnancy also increases. Women who smoke have a greater than normal chance of miscarriage, premature birth, or having a baby with low birth weight.

Early Menopause

Women who smoke also reach menopause earlier than women who don’t, according to researchers. Studies show that smokers reach menopause about 1 1/2 years earlier, on average, than nonsmokers. This is particularly true of women who smoked heavily for a long time.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer risk is also elevated in people who smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Adding alcohol to the mix intensifies this risk; those who smoke and are heavy drinkers have a 15-fold increased risk of oral cancer. Oral cancer usually starts as a sore inside the mouth that won’t go away. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of oral cancer.

Lung Cancer

Nine out of every 10 deaths from lung cancer are due to smoking, meaning that 90% of lung cancer deaths could be prevented. Smoking causes other lung problems, like emphysema, and increases the risk of contracting pneumonia.

How Quitting Improves Your Health

Blood pressure and heart rate reduce to normal levels within 20 minutes of stopping smoking! Heart attack risk begins to lower after the first 24 hours. Within the first weeks, the lungs begin to heal, and the tiny cilia (seen in this enlarged photo) start to rid the lungs of pollutants. Your risk of developing heart disease drops to half that of current smokers after just one year of quitting. After ten years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

Cigarette Stench

Quitting smoking has cosmetic effects, too. The smell of cigarettes is removed from your hair and clothes. Just the smell attached to a smoker can be harmful to others. Others can be exposed to the toxins that cause your hair and clothes to smell. This has been termed “third-hand smoke” and is believed to be particularly harmful to children.

Can You Quit?

Of course, giving up any addiction is difficult, but quitting smoking is possible. There are more former smokers (48 million) than current smokers (45 million) in the US. This means that quitting has worked for 48 million people! Your doctor can help recommend medications and other quitting strategies to help you succeed.


How to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction

No. 1: Know Why You Want to Quit

Quitting smoking is a perfect idea! Get a powerful, motivating reason and do it now! Do it for yourself: to feel better and look younger, and to reduce your chance of getting lung cancer. Do it for your family: protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke.

No. 2: Don’t Go Cold Turkey

It’s not common to successfully quit smoking by stopping immediately. Most people who quit “cold turkey” end up smoking again. Nicotine addiction can require gradual tapering to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

No. 3: Try Nicotine-Replacement Therapy

Nicotine withdrawal can cause restlessness, depression, and can lead to frustration. Cravings can be overwhelming. Nicotine replacement treatments including nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges can help. Do not smoke while using nicotine replacements.

No. 4: Ask About Prescription Pills

Discuss nicotine replacement with your doctor. There are prescription medications that can reduce the craving for cigarettes and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

No. 5: Don’t Go It Alone

Friends and family can encourage and support you while you are quitting smoking. Some find support groups and/or counselors helpful. Behavioral therapy is often used with success. When these methods are combined with nicotine replacement therapy, your odds of success in quitting can increase.

No. 6: Manage Stress

Stress reduction techniques are helpful when quitting smoking. Helpful methods can include yoga, tai chi, music, massage, and exercise.

No. 7: Avoid Alcohol, Other Triggers

Alcohol can be a trigger that causes people to return to smoking. Similarly, coffee and meals can cause relapses. Find your triggers, and replace them with other activities. Some find it helpful to brush teeth or chew gum after eating.

No. 8: Clean House

Clear your home of anything that reminds you of smoking. Remove ashtrays and lighters from your home and wash your clothes, upholstery, draperies, and carpets. Air fresheners will also help to eliminate that familiar smell.

No. 9: Try and Try Again

Relapses are common. If you relapse into smoking, analyze your situation and what might have triggered you to smoke again. Redefine your commitment and set a “quit date” and do it!

No. 10: Get Moving

Exercise activity can reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. When you feel like smoking, go move and find an activity you enjoy. This can also help to keep your weight optimal.

No. 11: Eat Fruits and Veggies

Don’t worry about dieting during the early stages of quitting smoking. Focus on eating healthy foods. Of note, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products tend to make cigarettes taste poorly, according to a Duke University study.

No. 12: Choose Your Reward

Another benefit of stopping smoking is financial. Reward yourself by spending your extra money on something that you enjoy or saving for something you really want!

No. 13: Do It for Your Health

The real reward in stopping smoking is improved health. Stopping smoking lowers your blood pressure, decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as lung and other forms of cancer.



Give yourself a round of applause: you have quit smoking and taken steps to better health. One of the biggest concerns of smokers who quit is weight gain, but your first priority should remain stopping smoking. After that, you can continue on your path to healthy living by reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Health Risks of Smoking

We all know smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Smoking is also a risk factor for cancer of the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, bladder, kidney, pancreas, colon, rectum, cervix, stomach, blood, and bone marrow. It increases the risk for other lung disease as well as heart disease. Pregnant women who smoke risk their babies being born prematurely, having delivery complications, and babies with low birth weight.

Will I Gain Weight if I Stop Smoking?

It’s not guaranteed you will gain weight when you quit smoking. For those who do gain weight, the gain is only about 6 to 8 pounds. Only about 10% of people who quit smoking gain 30 pounds or more.

What Causes Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking?

There are several reasons you may gain weight when you stop smoking, including:

  • Hunger. When you first quit you may feel hungrier than you used to. This feeling will usually disappear after several weeks.
  • More snacking and drinking alcohol. Many people turn to snacks or alcohol when they quit smoking.
  • Calorie burn returns to normal levels. When you smoke, your body burns calories faster because your heart rate rises. However, this is a temporary effect that is damaging to your heart. When you quit smoking, this short-term calorie burn goes away and you will burn slightly fewer calories.

Can I Avoid Weight Gain After I Quit Smoking?

It’s always a good idea to exercise and eat a balanced and healthy diet. However, when you are quitting smoking, focus on that goal first and foremost. Once you are smoke-free you can concentrate on weight loss efforts. The following slides discuss some ways to prevent weight gain when you quit smoking.

Accept Yourself

Don’t dwell on weight gain, if any. Quitting smoking will improve your health in so many ways. You will notice:

  • More energy
  • Whiter teeth
  • Fresh breath
  • Clothes and hair smell cleaner
  • Fewer wrinkles
  • Skin looks healthier
  • Voice is more clear

Get Regular, Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent large weight gain when you stop smoking. Exercise also gives you energy and can act as a mood-booster. Once you quit smoking, you will likely find you can breathe more easily during physical activity.

Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise nearly every day to prevent weight gain. It doesn’t have to be all at once – you can break it up into shorter sessions. You may need more than 30 minutes of exercise daily to lose weight.

Ideas for Being Active Every Day

There are ways you can incorporate physical activity into each day without it being a long exercise session. Try these simple steps:

  • Take a walk during lunch breaks or after dinner.
  • If you take the bus or subway get off one stop early and walk home (if you live where it is safe to do so).
  • Park your car further away from the entrance to stores so you can walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Sign up for fun classes such as dance or yoga.
  • Ask a friend to join you when you exercise.

Limit Snacking and Alcohol

In addition to moving more, you must watch what you eat to avoid weight gain when you quit smoking. Many former smokers turn to high-fat, high-sugar snacks or alcoholic beverages when they quit. Don’t fall into that trap of replacing one bad habit with another. Follow these steps to make healthier choices about what you eat and drink:

  • Eat frequent, smaller meals.
  • Eat enough to satisfy you, but don’t overindulge.
  • Eat slowly to pick up on your body’s signals that you are full – it usually takes about 20 minutes from the first bite for your body to start registering you have had enough.
  • Choose healthy snacks such as fruit, air-popped popcorn, or fat-free yogurt.
  • If you want an occasional treat, have a small serving.
  • Choose beverages that are sugar free and fat free instead of alcohol or soda.

Consider Using Medication to Help You Quit

In some cases, medications may help you quit smoking, and also to gain less weight when you do so. Talk to your doctor about the medications available, including nicotine replacement therapy (the patch, gum, nasal spray, and inhaler), or antidepressant medication. Nicotine patches and gum are usually available without a prescription.

Consider Getting Professional Advice about Weight Control

It may be easier to prevent weight gain or to lose weight with some extra help from a professional. Look into seeing a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or personal trainer to help with your diet and exercise goals.

Will Weight Gain Hurt My Health?

Most of us don’t like to gain weight, but the overall benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the risks of a few extra pounds. When you quit smoking you lower your risk for numerous types of cancers, and other illness such as heart disease. When you embark on a smoking cessation program focus first on quitting. Once you have quit for good, then turn your energy to becoming physically active and eating a balanced diet to reach your desired weight.

Effects of Secondhand Smoke: Facts

What Is Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke, involuntary smoke, and passive smoke) is the combination of tobacco smoke and exhaled smoke from the smoker. Nonsmokers can inhale secondhand smoke, exposing themselves to the same chemicals, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, as the smoker.

Secondhand Smoke and Children

Secondhand smoke exposure puts children at risk for health problems including severe asthma, breathing problems, and ear infections. Babies born to mothers who inhaled secondhand smoke are often lower birth weight and are more likely to die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Chemicals in cigarette smoke are also passed through breast milk.

What Causes Secondhand Smoke?

The most common source of secondhand smoke is cigarette smoke. Cigars and pipes are also a source. Secondhand smoke can occur anywhere, at home, at work, and in public spaces.

What Are the Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke?

More than 7,000 different chemicals have been identified in secondhand smoke. Of those, 250 have been identified as harmful, and 69 of those are known to cause cancer (carcinogenic). Some of the toxic chemicals include arsenic, benzene, the toxic metal beryllium, cadmium, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, tolulene, and vinyl chloride.

Secondhand smoke causes cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have all classified secondhand smoke as a known human carcinogen (a cancer-causing agent).

In addition to cancer, secondhand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and other illnesses.

Lung Cancer

Living with a smoker and inhaling secondhand smoke can increase the risk of developing lung cancer by 20% to 30%, according to the U.S. Surgeon general. There are approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in adult nonsmokers that result from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Heart Disease (Cardiovascular Disease)

Inhaling secondhand smoke can harm the cardiovascular system and can increase the risk for heart attack, particularly in those who already have heart disease. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke have a 25-30% higher risk of developing heart disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths each year. Risk of stroke is increased as well when secondhand smoke is inhaled.

Other Lung Diseases and Respiratory Illnesses

Secondhand smoke can irritate the lungs and can cause respiratory illnesses and breathing difficulties. Cough, chest congestion (phlegm), wheezing, shortness of breath, and even decreased lung function are all traceable to secondhand smoke exposure. In the U.S., among children 18 months and younger, secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for 150,000 to 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia, and 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year.

Other Effects on Children

In addition to serious reparatory infections children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at higher risk for ear infections, have fluid in their ears more often, and more frequently need operations to put in ear tubes for drainage. In children with asthma, even a small exposure to secondhand can trigger an asthma attack.

Effects on Pregnant Women

Babies born to mothers who inhaled secondhand smoke are often lower birth weight and are more likely to die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Possible Link to Breast Cancer

Secondhand smoke is thought to possibly increase the risk of breast cancer. Research is still underway, and results have been mixed. Because secondhand smoke contains known carcinogens this may account for the increased risk.

Is There A Safe Level of Secondhand Smoke?

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Even inhaling small amounts can be harmful, and extensive or long-term exposure increases the risk of medical problems. Avoiding secondhand smoke is the best way to reduce health risk.

What Can Be Done About Secondhand Smoke Exposure?

Nationally, there are numerous laws that restrict smoking in public places such as airlines and Federal buildings. State and local laws routinely prohibit smoking in public places such as schools, hospitals, airports, and beaches. Many workplaces, restaurants, and bars also ban smoking on the premises. To find the laws in your state, the American Lung Association has a listing of regulations grouped by U.S. state:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 is a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing illness and death related to smoking and secondhand smoke. For more information on Healthy People 2020 visit

If You’re A Smoker…

If you smoke, quit. Your family and friends will no longer be exposed to your secondhand smoke if you are not smoking.


How to Protect Yourself If You’re A Non-Smoker

Avoid secondhand smoke to protect yourself from the health risks associated with inhaling it. If you don’t smoke, don’t allow others to smoke in your home or car. Make sure smoking restrictions are enforced where you work such as proper ventilation and smoking areas at least 25 feet away from entrances. Find smoke-free bars and restaurants, and let the owners know that you come there because they are smoke-free. Don’t allow anyone who is smoking near your child, as children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of passive smoke.

What Is Thirdhand Smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is a recent term that refers to the smoke residue that is left behind after being around people who are smoking. The smell in your clothes, curtains, carpet, furniture, and other items has an odor because of the tobacco toxins that remain. These toxins can be absorbed through the skin and mucus membranes of non-smokers, particularly infants and children. To prevent third hand smoke, you need to prevent secondhand smoke.



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