how to quit smoking today

Quitting smoking, or smoking cessation, describes the combination of medications and aids, changes in personal habits, and emotional support that help people quit smoking. Quitting smoking can have immediate health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and better lung function.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 30.8 million adults in the United States smoked cigarettes in 2020. In 2018, 22.5 million adult smokers reported trying to quit smoking in the past year, while 2.9 million have succeeded.

The CDC estimates that 2.55 million children and adolescents use tobacco products. In 2021, approximately 60.2% of this group reported having tried to quit smoking.

Read on to learn more about smoking cessation methods and the benefits of quitting smoking.

What is smoking cessation?

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Smoking cessation is the process of quitting smoking, which typically requires medications, lifestyle changes, and support programs.

If you’ve ever tried to quit without success, you may not know if you can quit smoking for good. You are in good company. It’s not uncommon for people to make several attempts to become completely smoke-free, all the more reason to start now!

You may also be wondering how to prepare for such a big change. Start by learning all you can about the health risks of smoking and the resources available to quit this deadly habit.

How to build a smoking cessation plan?

Quitting can be difficult, and making a quit plan can help you stay on track.

The National Cancer Institute‘s Smokefree Initiative outlines six steps you can take to create your quit plan:

  • Step 1: Set a quit date. Give yourself time to prepare first, then pick a day to quit. Let people around you know that you are considering quitting smoking.
  • 2nd step: Calculate your savings. Figure out how much money you spend on cigarettes, so you know how much you’ll save by quitting smoking.
  • Step 3: Determine why you want to quit. Your reasons for quitting will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough.
  • Step 4: Know your smoking triggers. Figure out what makes you more likely to smoke and develop strategies to avoid or resolve those triggers.
  • Step 5: Find out how to manage cravings. Changing what you are doing or where you are will help distract you when you have cravings.
  • Step 6: Choose the tools that will help you quit. These may include over-the-counter or prescription medications, advice, and support from friends and family.

Who can help with smoking cessation?

Almost any health professional can help you quit smoking. If they don’t have the expertise themselves, they can help you find resources on how to quit smoking. Your GP is a good place to start. They can also tell you about the risks of smoking and about methods and products to quit smoking.

There are also other resources you can use to get help while you quit smoking:

  • Attend in-person programs and classes, including individual and group sessions.
  • Call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669), a quitline that offers free, confidential counseling.
  • Use free online resources like the quitSTART app at Smokefree.gov and CDC.gov/quit.
  • Sign up for SmokeFreeTXT by texting QUIT to 47848, which will provide you with daily text messages to help you quit.

What are the ways to quit smoking?

Quitting smoking is difficult, but there are several proven ways to quit smoking.

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a treatment that involves using products that give you decreasing amounts of nicotine to help you wean yourself off it. These products include:

  • Gum: You alternate between chewing and holding nicotine gum in your mouth. It comes in a 2 gram or 4 gram dose, and the number of doses per day will decrease over time to reduce your nicotine addiction.
  • Fixes: Nicotine patches deliver regular doses of nicotine through your skin. They come in multiple doses to make it easier to taper off your nicotine intake.
  • Inhalers: Oral nicotine inhalers deliver nicotine while maintaining the “hand-to-mouth” movement aspect of smoking.
  • Nasal sprays: Nicotine nasal sprays release nicotine into your nasal passages.
  • Lozenges : Nicotine lozenges are medicinal tablets that dissolve in the mouth. They are a good alternative for people who cannot chew gum.
  • Tablets: Nicotine tablets rest under the tongue, where they dissolve and deliver doses of nicotine.

NRT gives you nicotine without exposing you to the other harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. This treatment can help increase the chances of quitting smoking by 50-70%.

Two nicotine-free medications can also help you quit smoking.

Bupropion (Zyban) is a pill that you can combine with nicotine patches to increase the chances of quitting smoking.

Varenicline (Chantix) is a pill that works on parts of the brain affected by nicotine. It cuts off the pleasurable effects of smoking and reduces withdrawal symptoms.

Individual counseling and support programs can play an important role in quitting smoking. The smoking cessation programs that work best combine medication with counseling and support.

Counselors can help you develop and stick to a quit plan and manage the stress of quitting.

What are the benefits of smoking cessation?

No matter how long you have been smoking, quitting smoking will bring many health benefits.

Smoking harms almost every organ in your body. It also increases your risk of disease, disability and death. Smoking-related diseases cause nearly one in five deaths a year in the United States

Exposure to second-hand smoke can be just as harmful as smoking. The toxins in exhaled smoke contribute to lung cancer, heart disease and strokes. By quitting smoking, you will improve your quality of life and that of the people around you.

Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of developing serious health problems in almost every part of your body.

Your lungs will greatly benefit from quitting smoking:

Your heart and blood vessels will benefit in many ways from quitting smoking, including:

Quitting smoking will reduce the potential risks of pregnancy and childbirth:

  • The risk of premature deliveries will decrease.
  • The risk of low birth weight will decrease.
  • If smoking cessation occurs early in pregnancy, you can avoid the negative effects on fetal growth caused by smoking.

Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of developing many cancers:

In addition to reducing the long-term risk of serious diseases and illnesses, quitting smoking has immediate benefits.

In the minutes and days following quitting smoking:

  • Your heart rate will decrease.
  • The level of carbon monoxide in your blood will return to the level of a person who does not smoke.
  • The nicotine in your blood will disappear.

If you smoke, quitting is the most important step you can take to increase the length and improve the quality of your life.

What are the potential side effects of smoking cessation?

Quitting smoking can be difficult due to the addictive nature of nicotine. Your body and brain get used to having a certain level of nicotine, and quitting smoking will cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be very uncomfortable.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms

Common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include:

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are usually worse during the first week after quitting smoking. They will gradually decrease over time, although at different rates for different people.

What if I start smoking again?

Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult, and it is common for many people to fail when trying to quit. A slip is a smoking cessation term for having a cigarette or maybe two while trying to quit. Many people consider even having a puff or two a slip.

Slips are temporary setbacks, not failures. Don’t blame yourself for a slip-up. There are several things you can do to get yourself back on track:

  • Think about the methods you’ve used in the past to help you manage cravings and avoid triggers.
  • Take advantage of the many resources available — like counseling, text programs, and medications — to help you quit smoking for good.
  • Talk to your family and friends about the possibility of helping you quit smoking.
  • Restart your efforts to quit smoking immediately.

How long does it take to quit smoking?

Everyone is different, so it’s impossible to predict how long quitting smoking will take for individuals. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are most severe during the first week and will gradually lessen over time as your body adjusts to the absence of nicotine. After 1 month, many people no longer experience withdrawal symptoms. For some, symptoms persist for a few months.

Are nicotine lozenges safe?

Nicotine lozenges, like all quit smoking medications, are safer than smoking. The dangers of smoking come from the thousands of toxins released in cigarette smoke, not from the nicotine. Using quit smoking medications will not expose you to these toxins and will help control your withdrawal symptoms, making it much more likely that you will be able to quit smoking for good.

In the end, quitting smoking is difficult. Developing a quit plan, using quit smoking medications, and knowing the many benefits of quitting smoking can help you quit smoking for good.

Abandonment is possible. Talk to your doctor about quit smoking resources and medications.

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