Smoking and How to Quit Smoking

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

View How Smoking Affects Your Looks and Life Slideshow Pictures

Quit Smoking

Methods to Help You Quit Smoking

Several methods are available to assist those who decide to quit smoking such as prescription smoking cessation aids, behavioral modification and self-help literature to quit smoking, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Quick GuideHow to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction

How to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction

Smoking and quitting smoking facts

  • Although smoking is an addiction, people can quit smoking.
  • Secondhand smoke is harmful to the health of children, unborn children, family members, and coworkers.
  • Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases.
  • The steps in quitting, each of which requires special attention and efforts by the smoker, are getting ready to quit, quitting, and staying quit.
  • A number of techniques are available to assist people who want to quit, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), behavioral modification, self-help literature, and prescription medications.
  • In nicotine replacement therapy, which is the cornerstone of most smoking cessation programs, another source of nicotine is substituted while the cigarettes are stopped. (The idea of nicotine replacement therapy is to eliminate both the smoking habit - although the addiction remains - and the symptoms of withdrawal. Then, the replacement nicotine is gradually stopped.)
  • Currently, three forms of nicotine replacement therapy are available over the counter: nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges, while two forms are available by prescription, an inhaler and a nasal spray.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy has about a 25% success rate, which increases to 35% or 40% when nicotine replacement therapy is combined with intensive behavioral counseling.
  • Nicotine-containing substances have side effects, interactions with other medications, effects on other medical conditions, and limitations in their use.
  • Varenicline (Chantix) is a prescription drug that can help adults quit smoking. It is believed to act on the same receptors (the sites where nicotine acts to produce its effects) in the brain as nicotine, resulting in activation (stimulation) of these receptors and blocking the ability of nicotine to attach to these receptors.
  • A prescription drug called bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) has also been found to be effective in helping people to stop smoking.
  • e-cigarettes are smokable, refillable or replaceable cartridges or cartridges that hold liquid that contains nicotine, solvents, and flavors.
  • The safety of e-cigarettes is not known at this time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2015

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