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Smoking Cessation / Quitting Smoking

Quitting tobacco use is difficult and may require multiple attempts, as users often relapse because of withdrawal symptoms. Read More ›

Nicotine is the psychoactive drug in tobacco products that produces dependence. Most smokers are dependent on nicotine, and smokeless tobacco use can also lead to nicotine dependence. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

Quitting tobacco use is difficult and may require multiple attempts, as users often relapse because of withdrawal symptoms. Examples of nicotine withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • increased appetite

Health Benefits of Quitting

  • People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk of dying prematurely. Benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, but cessation is beneficial at all ages.
  • Smoking cessation lowers the risk for lung and other types of cancer. The risk for developing cancer declines with the number of years of smoking cessation.
  • Risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease is reduced after smoking cessation.
  • Coronary heart disease risk is substantially reduced within 1 to 2 years of cessation.
  • Cessation reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The rate of decline in lung function is slower among persons who quit smoking.
  • Women who stop smoking before or during pregnancy reduce their risk for adverse reproductive outcomes such as infertility or having a low-birth-weight baby.

Tobacco Use Cessation Methods

  • Brief clinical interventions by health care providers can increase the chances of successful cessation, as can counseling and behavioral cessation therapies. Treatments with more person-to-person contact and intensity (e.g., more time with counselors) are more effective. Individual, group, or telephone counseling are all effective.
  • Pharmacological therapies found to be effective for treating tobacco dependence include nicotine replacement products (e.g., gum, inhaler, patch) and non-nicotine medications, such as bupropion SR (Zyban®) and varenicline tartrate (Chantix™).

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Office on Smoking and Health

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