Tobacco Processing Center | VA Health Care Cincinnati

What your healthcare team wants you to know

Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking! In just 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop. Within 8 hours, your oxygen level increases. You will be able to breathe more easily at the end of the first week.

Medical treatment

Your chances of successfully quitting smoking are TRIPLE if you take medications and attend smoking cessation treatment appointments. The following medications can be discussed to help manage cravings and withdrawal:

  • Nicotine patch
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine lozenge
  • Bupropion (Zyban/Wellbutrin)

Risks of smoking

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.”

– Report of the general practitioner 2004

Your risk increases with each use of tobacco. Each cigarette takes ten minutes off your lifespan!

The tobacco:

  • harms all major organs
  • Cause 75% of lung cancer deaths
  • Causes most cancers of the voice box, mouth, esophagus and bladder
  • Is a major cause of sexual function problems
  • Causes cataracts and glaucoma
  • Causes emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
  • Causes thinning of bones

Benefits of quitting smoking

No matter how long you have been using tobacco, your health WILL to improve.

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure will be lower, your pulse will be more normal, and your hands and feet will feel warmer.
  • Within 8 hours you will have more oxygen.
  • After 24 hours, you begin to reduce your risk of heart attack.
  • After 2 weeks, your lung function improves. You will cough less and breathe better.
  • After 3 years, your risk of heart disease will be almost the same as someone who has never smoked.
  • Your sense of taste and smell returns.
  • You can do more activities with less effort.
  • You will appreciate the FREEDOM of tobacco!

Quitting smoking can be a difficult decision

Maybe you’ve had trouble quitting before. It may not be as difficult if you use nicotine replacement medications that have been prescribed for you and get a support coach to help you through the tough times. Call the QUITLINE phone 1-855-Quit-Vet (1-855-784-8838) for a support coach. More information is available here:

More support is available through the Stay Quit Coach app. The Stay Quit Coach app is designed to help quit smoking. It is intended to serve as an easily accessible source of support and information for adults who are already in treatment to quit smoking – to help them continue to quit even after treatment has ended. The app guides users through creating a tailored plan that takes into account their personal reasons for quitting smoking. It provides information on smoking and quitting smoking, interactive tools to help users cope with cravings, and motivational messages and support contacts to help users stay smoke-free. This app is available for Android and iPhone devices. It can be downloaded for free from the Play Store or Apple Store.

  • The more support you have, the better your chances of success.
  • Nicotine patches, gum or lozenges do not contain all of the harmful chemicals found in tobacco.
  • Nicotine replacement medications will help treat nicotine cravings. The patch, gum, or lozenge won’t make you quit, but it will help you be more comfortable while learning new ways to live tobacco-free.

What should I do to quit smoking?

Contact the Tobacco Treatment Center or your primary care physician to let them know you are ready to quit. Discuss smoking cessation medications to help you quit. The next step is to set a quit date. Some people decide to set this date when they have no more tobacco. After this date, you will have fewer cravings if you take medication daily and avoid tobacco. This means not buying, burning or storing tobacco.

How to plan your quit date:

  • Get rid of all lighters and ashtrays
  • Tell your family and friends that you are quitting smoking. Ask for their help. Maybe one of them could be your support coach.
  • Family can help by stopping with you or smoking OUTSIDE the house. Ask them to keep their tobacco with them, not drag it around the house or in the car.
  • Plan to stay busy so you don’t think about tobacco. Changing your routine can help.
  • Think about the reason you quit in the first place: like breathing easier, feeling better, saving money, improving your health, or living longer. Write down the list of reasons and place the list where you would normally place your tobacco. Look at this list when you have a craving.
  • Remember that cravings will pass within minutes whether you smoke or not.

How to deal with sudden urges

It is normal to have strong urges to smoke at the same time that you have used tobacco in the past. For example, first thing in the morning, with coffee, after a meal, and while driving, there may be times when the urge to smoke, chew, or dip may be strong.

Although most cravings are relieved by the patch, nicotine lozenges or gum can provide additional relief if you feel the urge to smoke while wearing a patch. Remember that it may take 10-15 minutes for the craving to go away. You can use up to 10 gummies or lozenges per day, every 2 to 4 hours.

You’ll know you’re ready to use the less potent patch when you only use a few pieces of lozenges or gum per week. By the time you have reached the 7mg patch, you should stop using the nicotine gum or lozenge.

Nicotine gum and lozenges are medicine – don’t use them like candy!

Sometimes just doing something different or using regular sugar-free gum or candy will be enough to quell the craving without using more nicotine medications. You’ll have fewer urges if you don’t carry around tobacco, keep ashtrays, hang out with smokers, or let people smoke in your house or car.

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