Quit Smoking: A Guide

Thinking about quitting, preparing to quit, quitting and staying quit.

Why quit?

Think about why you want to quit. Decide for sure that you want to quit. Promise yourself that you'll do it. It's OK to have mixed feelings. Don't let that stop you. There will be times every day that you don't feel like quitting. You will have to stick with it anyway.

Find reasons to quit that are important to you. Think of more than just health reasons. For example, think of:

  • How much money you'll save by not buying cigarettes
  • The time you'll have for yourself instead of taking cigarette breaks, rushing out to buy a pack, or searching for a light
  • Not being short of breath or coughing as much
  • Setting a better example for your children

Write down all the reasons why you want to quit. List ways to fight the urge to smoke, too. (You will find tips for coping later in this guide.) Keep your list where you'll see it often. Good places are:

  • Where you keep your cigarettes
  • In your wallet or purse
  • In the kitchen
  • In your car

When you reach for a cigarette you'll find your list. It will remind you why you want to stop.

What's in a cigarette?

Your body gets more than nicotine when you smoke.

There are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Some of them are also in wood varnish, the insect poison DDT, arsenic, nail polish remover, and rat poison.

The ashes, tar, gases, and other poisons in cigarettes harm your body over time. They damage your heart and lungs. They also make it harder for you to taste and smell things, and fight infections.

Reasons for quitting

Here are some examples of reasons to quit:

  1. I will feel healthier right away.
    • I will have more energy and better focus.
    • My senses of smell and taste will be better.
    • I will have whiter teeth and fresher breath.
    • I will cough less and breathe better.
     
  2. I will be healthier the rest of my life.
    • I will lower my risk for cancer, heart attacks, strokes, early death, cataracts, and skin wrinkling.
     
  3. I will make my partner, friends, family, kids, grandchildren, and co-workers proud of me.
     
  4. I will be proud of myself.
    • I will feel more in control of my life.
    • I will be a better role model for others.
     
  5. I will have more money to spend.
     
  6. I won't have to worry: "When will I get to smoke next?" or "What do I do when I'm in a smoke-free place?"

Smoking's impact on others

Even a little second-hand smoke is dangerous.

Second-hand smoke can cause cancer in non-smokers. It can also cause breathing problems and heart disease. People who breathe second-hand smoke get colds and flu more easily. And they often die younger than those who don't breathe it.

Pregnant women who breathe second-hand smoke have many risks:

  • They may lose their babies.
  • Their babies may be born small.
  • Their babies are more likely to die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Their children may be cranky, restless, and get sick more often.
  • Their children are more likely to have learning problems.

Children who breathe second-hand smoke have troubles too. They are much more likely to have breathing problems such as asthma. They also get more ear and lung infections (like pneumonia).