Quitting smoking/vaping is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health. The best reason to quit smoking/vaping is that quitting reduces your risk of dying. Smoking/vaping causes 1 in 5 deaths in the United States every year. Smoking/vaping can affect every organ in the body in an adverse way. Oral tobacco (dipping) causes dental disease and mouth, head and neck cancer. Vaping and similar technologies are still being studied; known adverse effects include nicotine addiction and inhalation of chemicals. Quitting completely is the goal, but any decrease in exposure, including cutting down and quitting temporarily, benefits your health and is worthwhile. The reasons for quitting smoking/vaping are endless. Here are a few…
Immediate reasons to stop
- Bad breath and stained teeth
- Bad smell in clothes and hair
- Decreased athletic performance
- Cough and sore throat
- Cost of smoking/vaping supplies
- Negative impact on the health of those around you (second hand smoke)
- Damage to the fetus in pregnant women
Stopping now greatly reduces these long-term health risks:
- Cancer. Tobacco directly causes lung, mouth and other cancers, and promotes development of most other types of cancer.
- Heart disease
- Serious breathing problems (emphysema)
- Heartburn and ulcers
How do I quit?
Quitting successfully usually requires preparation, planning and support. Look for help. Many schools and healthcare organizations offer smoking/vaping cessation programs. An appointment with a medical provider can be helpful to discuss nicotine replacement options (gum, patches) and other medication strategies. Others have succeeded in quitting with the help of apps and online communities.
Like many lifestyle changes, you need a good plan. Here is one that may work for you.
Before you quit
- Set a quit date 1-2 weeks from now. It takes awhile to plan quitting.
- Gather support from family, friends, and co-workers. Let them know that you plan to quit and tell them your quit date. Their support and encouragement can be invaluable.
- Talk to your healthcare provider. They will be able to walk through the process with you. They can be a source of information. They may also prescribe medication to help you.
- Make a plan for the times you will get an urge to smoke. For example chew some gum, drink a glass of water, take a hot bath or go for a walk.
- On the day you quit get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, lighters, and any other tobacco or nicotine sources or paraphernalia.
- Most people stop cigarettes “cold turkey”. It is better to not have them around to be tempted.
After you quit
- Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms. You may feel edgy, and have trouble concentrating. The symptoms are the strongest in the first few days, but may last up to 3-4 weeks.
- Have healthy snacks around you. Part of the addiction of cigarettes is having something in your mouth. When people quit they tend to eat more. Most people will gain a few pounds. Try eating fruits and vegetables and drinking more water.
- Start an exercise program. This is the perfect opportunity to positively impact your health. It can also keep your mind off smoking/vaping.
- Don’t be discourages if you fail. It takes, on average, 4 to 5 attempts at quitting before most people succeed. Keep trying!