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Quit Smoking Questions and Answers

Get answers to some frequently asked questions people have while trying to quit smoking.

Q. I've cut back significantly on smoking. It's not so bad for me if I only smoke a little, right?
A. The most important thing any smoker can do to improve his or her 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.

Q. What are the health benefits of quitting smoking?
A. Soon after you quit smoking, you will notice you have more energy and less stress. Your smoker's cough will go away, although for some it may take weeks as your lungs clean themselves by bringing up mucus. Your eyes and throat won't be irritated, and 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!

Q. I've tried to quit smoking before and it didn't work. What can I do differently to quit for good this time?
A. 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 and build on those to plan your next quit. If you keep trying and keep learning from your experiences, you will be able to quit for good!

Q. Which medications can I take to help me quit smoking?
A. 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®).

Q: What about e-cigarettes? Can they help me quit?
A: 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.

Q. Will I gain weight if I quit smoking?
A. 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'll still be healthier than when you were smoking.

Q. I have friends and family members who smoke, which makes it harder for me to quit. What should I do?
A. There's no way to make them quit, but you can help them! 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.

Q. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do instead of having a cigarette?
A. 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. Check out the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking® for more tips to help you quit.


    Page Last Updated: May 7, 2018

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