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Wellness and Smoking Cessation

Reasons to Quit Smoking 

  • Tobacco use is the chief cause of avoidable death and disease in our society , responsible for more than 400,000 deaths in the United States every year. 
  • Risk of heart attack, stroke, emphysema and cancer are all markedly increased by the use of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. 
  • A woman whose husband smokes over a ten year period has double the risk of heart attack compared to a woman whose husband doesn't smoke.
  • A woman whose husband smokes has a 20% higher risk of lung cancer.
  • Children of smokers have a significantly higher rate of asthma and respiratory infections than do children of nonsmokers. 

As you can see there are many good reasons to quit, not only for your own health, but for the health of your family. 

When to Quit

The most common excuse we hear is "Now is not a good time for me to quit." Well, when is a good time?

There's always something going on which can be used as an excuse not to quit. There's never "a good time." So why not set a date right now. Make a commitment to improve your health and the health of those around you by not smoking.

The idea of living without cigarettes may be strange or even frightening. After all, cigarettes have always been there for you. They are psychologically and physically addictive. Make no mistake about it, quitting is not easy for most people. The important thing is to make up your mind that you are going to quit. If you have a relapse you may feel as though you have failed and you may be reluctant to try again. Most smokers do not quit completely on the first try. But more than half of all smokers have now successfully quit. Do not give up. Keep trying.

How to Quit Smoking

Be aware that there is a tendency for people to gain weight after quitting. Most of this weight gain is because people increase their food consumption. Stock up on healthy snacks. Fruits (fresh or dried), vegetables (celery, carrots, etc.) and perhaps a few low fat tortilla chips. Try to avoid eating because you are bored or need to have something to do with your mouth now that you're not smoking. Chewing gum or sugarless candy may help.

Studies have shown that moderate to heavy smokers (over one pack per day) have a higher success rate when using a nicotine patch or gum to help them quit. While these products are quite safe, you should ask your doctor about the advisability of using these products, especially if you have any form of heart disease.

Try to stay away from situations in which you are likely to smoke including:

  • Being around other smokers
  • Being under time pressure
  • Getting into arguments
  • Drinking alcohol

You may have to enlist the aid of the other smokers in your life such as friends and family who may not yet be ready to quit. Ask them to smoke outside if they must smoke at all. This may also be a good opportunity to convince the other smoking members of your household to quit with you.

Set a date on which you are going to quit. If you have nicotine patches, put one on as soon as you get up on your quit date. Try to go about your daily routine as normally as possible. If you can't resist the urge to smoke, remove the nicotine patch (or spit out the nicotine gum) as double doses of nicotine may be harmful. Try not to smoke any more than you must. One puff may be all you need. If so, douse that butt!!! In any case don't get discouraged. If you find that you are having a great deal of difficulty look into joining an organized smoking cessation program.

What About Cutting Down?

For those who aren't ready to make the commitment to quit but would like to cut down, here are some recommendations.

Many of the cigarettes you smoke are not ones you truly need or enjoy. They are the one you light up purely out of habit. The ones you really enjoy are those after a meal, with coffee, with a drink at a party, etc. Try smoking every cigarette on it's own merits. When you pull a cigarette out of the pack, ask yourself "Do I really need to smoke this one?" You are not making a decision about whether or not to quit smoking, just whether or not to smoke that individual cigarette.

If, after remembering how bad cigarettes are for your heart, lungs and health in general, you still really want to smoke, go ahead. Light up. Enjoy. If, on the other hand, you feel like you can live without that particular cigarette, put it back in the pack. If five minutes later you want to smoke, go ahead and pull the cigarette out. Go through the same process every time of making the decision to smoke that particular cigarette.

After a while, you may find that you can wait until after lunch to smoke. Or maybe just one after breakfast, one with midmorning coffee, one or two after lunch, one or two after dinner and one before bed. That gets you down to less than half a pack per day. Once you do that, you're ready to make the commitment to quit. Remember though, you have to consider each cigarette. No waking up some days and deciding you're not going to worry about it and just smoke. You have to think about each one. After all, this is your life we're trying to save.

One more thing ...

All of the 400,000 people who will die this year of tobacco related diseases were thinking "It only happens to the other guy."