Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, according to Drugabuse.org. According to the CDC, smoking cigarettes causes approximately 480,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each and every year. An additional 16 million people suffer from debilitating diseases caused by smoking cigarettes.
An estimated additional 41,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases as the result of Secondhand Smoke. The chemicals released from secondhand smoke pose a very real danger to those in the close proximity of a smoker.
Quitting smoking can be overwhelming. It’s not only about breaking a powerful physical dependence on an incredibly addictive substance but also about significantly changing one’s lifestyle, habits and coping strategies. It is, however, undeniably the single most important step that smokers can take to improve the length and quality of their lives.
Why Quit Smoking?
The knowledge that cigarettes are harmful is rarely motivation enough to quit. Smoking is a powerful addiction, and breaking that addiction requires amazing willpower. These techniques and articles will help provide you with motivation and inspire you to follow through with your decision.
The Effects of Smoking
Contrary to popular belief, smoking doesn’t only harm the lungs of a smoker, and cancer isn’t the only threat to a smoker’s health. Inhaling tobacco smoke can cause damage to most of the body’s organs and systems. Understanding exactly how much harm smoking causes you can be the impetus you need to quit. Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
To begin looking for motivation to quit smoking, visit The Effects of Smoking.
List of Reasons
It stands to reason that the first step toward leading a tobacco-free lifestyle is finding reasons to go through the difficult process of quitting. A good way to find motivation is to make a list of all the reasons for quitting smoking that resonate with you on a personal level. A simple yet effective technique that’s used in most quitting programs is to write these reasons down on a piece of paper and use that list to reassure oneself in one’s commitment to quitting for good.
An example of such a list can be found at My Reasons to Quit.
Rewards of Quitting
Some smokers may rationalize their addiction by saying that the damage to their health is already done and quitting won’t make a difference. They couldn’t be more wrong. Quitting has a beneficial effect at any age and stage of addiction.
To read about how quitting can improve your life, visit The Effects of Quitting.
How to Quit
The quest to quit smoking has proven to be a test of willpower for many. The exercising of willpower does not always mean that one must deprive themselves of external tools. In fact, sometimes willpower means doing what it takes to achieve a task and accomplish one’s goals.
The cold turkey method is the most commonly used technique. Approximately 90% of all smokers who attempt to quit endeavor to do so without the aid of nicotine replacement therapy or other medication. It is also the least effective method. It is a challenging method that requires a lot of willpower, but it is also the fastest method and is therefore recommended for people who need to quit urgently due to serious medical issues.
To learn more about quitting smoking cold turkey, visit our Cold Turkey Guide.
Drugs and Medications
Nicotine replacement therapies are designed to provide individuals suffering from nicotine addiction a safer alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes, thereby easing the quitting process. Nicotine replacement therapies can take the form of gum, patches, inhalers or nasal sprays.
The use of NRT can increase the success rate of quitting by 50% to 70%. After one year, the success rate for NRT is between 6% and 16%, with nicotine patches proving to be marginally more effective than nicotine gum. The side effects caused by the use of NRT include dizziness, upset stomach, blurred vision, skin irritation (from patches) and headaches.
Non-nicotine Smoking Cessation Medication – Certain prescription medications can be used to aid in quitting smoking. Some of them can even be used along with NRT in order to boost the chances of success. These medications do not contain nicotine, are non-habit-forming and are found to have a slightly higher success rate than NRT. The most popular ones on the market are Bupropion (known by the brand names of Zyban® or Wellbutrin®) and Varenicline (Chantix®).
- Bupropion is an antidepressant that can reduce the effects of nicotine withdrawal. It should be taken for 7 to 12 weeks, starting 2 weeks before the planned quit date. The most common side effects of Bupropion include headaches, insomnia, fatigue, agitation, irritability, indigestion, and dry mouth.
- Varenicline is a medication that interferes with the nicotine receptors in the brain. It can make smoking less pleasurable and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. The side effects include headaches, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, unusual dreams, and gas.
To learn more, visit:
Some people use electronic cigarettes to quit smoking in a similar fashion to nicotine replacement therapy. Several brands offer e-liquids of varying nicotine content that can be useful in gradually decreasing your nicotine intake. This avoids the 7,000 chemicals that analogue cigarettes produce. Instead, e-cigarettes simply utilize a heating coil to gently vaporize the e-liquid.
An added benefit of e-cigarettes over other forms of NRT is that they directly address the habit of smoking itself.
These devices are also cheaper than purchasing a pack of traditional cigarettes every day. After purchasing a starter kit for an average of $40, which is cheaper than a standard carton of cigarettes, the only cost is replacing the cartomizer and e-liquid. The average cost for a pack of cartomizers is about $5 for a pack of five. Each cartomizer will last about a week.
The standard cost of e-liquid is about $15 for a 15ml bottle. This will last around two weeks. This puts the total weekly cost at about $8.25, as opposed to $42 per week for traditional cigarettes.
Learn more about electronic cigarettes at our Electronic Cigarettes Guide.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is short-term therapy that focuses on specific problems in your life. It can be used to help quit smoking by changing the maladjusted thought patterns that make the smoker experience cigarette cravings and teaching new, constructive ways to deal with stress or anxiety. It has been proven to increase the odds of success, especially when combined with smoking cessation medication. However, qualified, competent specialists can be hard to come by and expensive.
To learn more about behavioral therapy, please visit: How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help You to Quit Smoking.
Everyone is different, and the best method for you depends on your personality, circumstances and even genetic makeup. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change methods if you feel one isn’t working for you. Chances are that what feels most natural to you will work best. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much which method you used, but how dedicated you were to making it work.
How to Stay Smoke-Free
After you quit smoking, most of the physical withdrawal symptoms will subside after 2 to 3 weeks. Making it through this time is undoubtedly a huge achievement. However, smoking causes drastic and largely irreversible changes to your brain chemistry. Cigarette cravings can occur months or even years after quitting smoking. That’s why it’s crucial to stay motivated, use the coping strategies developed in the first few weeks of quitting and to always keep your guard up.
There are plenty of small tips and tricks that can make quitting much easier with just a little bit of effort. They come from the collective experience of many quitters. Perhaps not all of them will work for you, but it’s always worth a try.
For some tips on how to make quitting easier, visit Top 10 Tips and Tricks for Quitting.
When you quit smoking, you must take it a day at a time. Every single day, make the conscious decision to not smoke. Finding motivation can be difficult after weeks or days. You need to stay motivated through the hard, long and tedious process of quitting.
Here’s a list of some useful techniques that will help you find the motivation to quit and find the strength to succeed:
How to Help a Quitter
If you’re looking for ways to help your friend, family member or somebody close to you quit smoking, you should start by educating yourself on the effects of tobacco, the nature of addiction, withdrawal symptoms and different quitting methods. This will help you better understand what they’re going through and provide better support for them.
You should also visit Support Your Quitter for additional information on how to help your loved one through withdrawal.
If you are concerned about the health of a loved one who smokes and refuses to quit, or just lacks a little bit of motivation to make that life-changing decision, visit our How to Inspire a Smoker to Quit guide. If quitting is not an option, consider making your house smoke-free, or at least establishing a single smoking area to minimize the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. To learn more about the dangers of secondhand smoke, visit Secondhand Smoke – Think Twice.