In 2015, 15 of every 100 US adults age 18 and over smoked cigarettes. Over the past decade, smoking has declined by 5.8% and while there are many benefits to quitting smoking, quitting proves a difficult challenge for many. While quitting smoking may be hard, it can be a bit easier if you have a plan in place with your doctor and support from those around you.
Benefits of quitting
Quitting smoking improves your overall health and well-being and can:
- Boost your immune system
- Decrease your blood pressure
- Reduce your chances of having cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and other diseases
- Improve your appearance with more youthful looking skin and a reduction of stains on teeth and fingernails
- Enhance your sense of taste and sense of smell
- Make you smell better to others
- Save you money
Reasons to quit
While making your plan to quit, it is important to determine the reason why you are quitting. Ask yourself why and write it down. Share this reason with your doctor and those around you. If you are not sure why you want to quit consider asking yourself the following questions:
- What do I dislike about smoking?
- How is smoking impacting my health?
- How is my smoking impacting those around me?
- How will my life get better if I quit?
Common reasons to quit smoking closely align with the benefits of quitting smoking. Many wish to quit because smoking is expensive or is having negative impacts on their health. Smoking is also seen as a hassle and interruption to work, family, and daily activities.
Tools to quit
Smoking cessation tools have come a long way over the years and people are no longer encouraged to quit “cold turkey.” There are a variety of smoking cessation medications available and your health care provider can work with you to select which option best fits your needs.
Nicotine replacement medicines work by gradually tapering doses of nicotine to help combat withdrawal side effects and make cigarette cravings less severe. Nicotine gum and lozenges have been around for decades and can be purchased without a prescription at a pharmacy. Nicotine patches are another non-prescription option for quitting. Nicotine nasal spray is a doctor-prescribed medication that may be used for up to six months.
Non-nicotine medications are prescribed by your doctor and work by blocking the flow of chemicals in the brain that make you want to smoke. They come in a pill form and typically are used for 7-12 weeks or longer.
Prior to using any cessation medications, discuss options with your doctor. Serious medical conditions, interactions with other medications, and age may play a factor when using smoking cessation medications.
In addition to medications, there are many quit smoking phone hotlines, phone apps and text messaging programs, support groups, and online web communities.
During the first few weeks after you quit smoking, you may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms as your body recalibrates. Symptoms of withdrawal typically last for a few days to a few weeks and begin to gradually taper off as your body chemistry readjusts. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Inability to sleep or frequent sleep disruptions
- Mood swings and irritability
- Increased feelings of anxiety and nervousness
- Foggy head, inability to think clearly
Support from your health care provider
Your health care provider wants you to be in good health and quit smoking. Coordinate with your practitioner to determine what the best quitting plan is for you, which cessation tools will work best for your needs, and discuss ways to manage and cope with withdrawal symptoms. Your practitioner will also provide informational guides and resources to assist with your success. Need help with your kicking your habit? Northwest Primary Care physicians are ready to assist you with quitting smoking.