Get answers to some frequently asked questions people have while trying to quit smoking.
There is no safe amount of smoking. The most important thing any smoker can do to improve their health is to quit smoking completely. That means not smoking at all, not even "once in a while" or "just when I'm out with my friends." It may take a few tries, but you can stop using tobacco for good. Most people who cut back are not able to stay at a low level of use—they ultimately go back to using their usual amount. The best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking altogether.
Soon after you quit smoking, your body will receive more oxygen and you will notice you have more energy and feel a little less stressed. Your cough will go away, although for some it may take weeks as your lungs clean themselves by bringing up mucus. Your eyes and throat will feel less irritated. Your senses of taste and smell will improve. Your risk of heart attack and stroke drop quickly. Over time, you'll have fewer colds and respiratory infections, and your body will repair some of the damage caused by smoking. In the long run, you reduce your risk of lung cancer as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. You will also have fewer wrinkles, whiter teeth and will no longer smell like tobacco. You'll even save money—lots of it!
Smoking is very addictive and quitting "cold turkey" generally isn't effective. It takes almost everyone several tries before they're able to quit for good. You can boost your odds by getting some help quitting, which means getting support from your friends and family, signing up for a program like Freedom From Smoking® and taking a medication that can help you quit. Also, think about your previous quit attempts. Make it a learning experience. What worked for you then, even for a little while. What didn’t work for you then? What were your biggest challenges? What do you think you could do differently this time? Give these strategies a try. See if they work for you now. If not, you will at least learn what not to do as you plan your next quit. If you keep trying and keep learning from your experiences, you will be able to quit for good!
There are seven FDA-apprived medications that can help you break your nicotine addiction. There are over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches, lozenges and gum, and prescription nicotine replacement therapies, the nicotine inhaler and nicotine nasal spray. There are also two non-nicotine prescription drugs that can help you quit: bupropion (Zyban®) and varenicline (Chantix®). The most important thing to do is use the medication as directed. Most people do not use enough and do not use it long enough to obtain the best benefits from stop smoking medications.
The FDA has not found any e-cigarettes to be safe or effective in helping smokers quit. The 2016 Surgeon General's Report states that e-cigarettes can expose people to several chemicals known to have adverse health effects. Based on this, the American Lung Association does not support the use of e-cigarettes. Instead, we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications that have been proven to help smokers quit.
Some people do gain a few pounds when they quit smoking. But following a healthy eating plan and increasing physical activity will help you manage your weight. Even if you gain some weight after quitting, you can lose it later and you'll still be healthier than when you were smoking.
Quitting is a very personal decision and there is no way to make them quit, but you can help them and tell them how they can help you! Even though they smoke, they are still likely to want to help you to quit. Tell them what you need to quit, short of asking them to quit. You can discuss smokefree zones. Tell them you care about their health and want them to stop smoking. See if they're interested in trying to quit with you—a buddy can be a great source of support. And while you're trying to quit smoking, ask them to please not smoke around you or to offer you cigarettes.
The urge to smoke will pass within three to five minutes, whether or not you have a cigarette. Try doing something distracting—go for a walk around the block, call or text a friend or drink a glass of water. Learn more tips to meet challenges that come up when quitting.
Page last updated: November 17, 2022