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.
Tobacco use can lead to tobacco/nicotine dependence and serious health problems. Quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of developing smoking-related diseases.
Tobacco/nicotine dependence is a condition that often requires repeated treatments, but there are helpful treatments and resources for quitting.
Smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers
- Most smokers become addicted to nicotine, a drug that is found naturally in tobacco.
- More people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.
- Quitting smoking is hard and may require several attempts.People who stop smoking often start again because of withdrawal symptoms, stress, and weight gain.
- Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Feeling irritable, angry, or anxious
- Having trouble thinking
- Craving tobacco products
- Feeling hungrier than usual
Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are harmful, and about 70 can cause cancer. Smoking increases the risk for serious health problems, many diseases, and death.
People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death. Although the health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, there are benefits at any age. You are never too old to quit.
Stopping smoking is associated with the following health benefits
- Lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer.
- Reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of the blood vessels outside your heart).
- Reduced heart disease risk within 1 to 2 years of quitting.
- Reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may not disappear, they do not continue to progress at the same rate among people who quit compared with those who continue to smoke.
- Reduced risk of developing some lung diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, one of the leading causes of death in the United States).
- Reduced risk for infertility in women of childbearing age. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.
Smokers’ Attempts to Quit
Among all current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, nearly 7 out of every 10 (68.8%) reported in 2010 that they wanted to quit completely.
Since 2002, the number of former smokers has been greater than the number of current smokers.
Percentage of high school cigarette smokers who tried to stop smoking in the past 12 months:
Nearly 5 out of 10 (48%) of all high school students who smoke
Ways to Quit Smoking
Most former smokers quit without using one of the treatments that scientific research has shown can work.However, the following treatments are proven to be effective for smokers who want help to quit:
- Brief help by a doctor (such as when a doctor takes 10 minutes or less to give a patient advice and assistance about quitting)
- Individual, group, or telephone counseling
- Behavioral therapies (such as training in problem solving)
- Treatments with more person-to-person contact and more intensity (such as more or longer counseling sessions)
- Programs to deliver treatments using mobile phones
Medications for quitting that have been found to be effective include the following:
- Nicotine replacement products
- Over-the-counter (nicotine patch [which is also available by prescription], gum, lozenge)
- Prescription (nicotine patch, inhaler, nasal spray)
- Prescription non-nicotine medications: bupropion SR (Zyban),varenicline tartrate (Chantix)
- Nicotine replacement products
Counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence, and using them together is more effective than using either one alone.
- More information is needed about quitting for people who smoke cigarettes and also use other types of tobacco.
E-Cigarette Advertising and Youth
About seven in 10 middle and high school students—more than 18 million young people—see e-cigarette advertising in stores, online, in newspapers and magazines, or in television and in movies. E-cigarette ads use many of the same themes, such as independence, rebellion, and sex used to sell cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products. Advertising of tobacco products has been shown to cause youth to start using those products.
E-cigarettes typically deliver nicotine, which at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use. In 2014, e-cigarettes became the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes. During 2011 to 2014, current e-cigarette use among high school students soared from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent, and among middle school students from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent. Spending on e-cigarette advertising rose from $6.4 million in 2011 to an estimated $115 million in 2014.
Are you one of the more than 70% of smokers who want to quit? Then try following this advice.
1. Don’t smoke any cigarettes. Each cigarette you smoke damages your lungs, your blood vessels, and cells throughout your body. Even occasional smoking is harmful.
2. Write down why you want to quit. Do you want to—
- Be around for your loved ones?
- Have better health?
- Set a good example for your children?
- Protect your family from breathing other people’s smoke?
Really wanting to quit smoking is very important to how much success you will have in quitting.
3. Know that it will take commitment and effort to quit smoking. Nearly all smokers have some feelings of nicotine withdrawal when they try to quit. Nicotine is addictive.a Knowing this will help you deal with withdrawal symptoms that can occur, such as bad moods and really wanting to smoke.
There are many ways smokers quit, including using nicotine replacement products (gum and patches) or FDA-approved, non-nicotine cessation medications. Some people do not experience any withdrawal symptoms. For most people, symptoms only last a few days to a couple of weeks.a Take quitting one day at a time, even one minute at a time—whatever you need to succeed.
4. Get help if you want it. Smokers can receive free resources and assistance to help by visiting specialist.Your health care providers are also a good source for help and support.
5. Remember this good news! More than half of all adult smokers have quit, and you can, too.c Millions of people have learned to face life without a cigarette. Quitting smoking is the single most important step you can take to protect your health and the health of your family.
Ten Key Guideline Recommendations:
The overarching goal of these recommendations is that clinicians strongly recommend the use of effective tobacco dependence counseling and medication treatments to their patients who use tobacco, and that health systems, insurers, and purchasers assist clinicians in making such effective treatments available.
1. Tobacco dependence is a chronic disease that often requires repeated intervention and multiple attempts to quit. Effective treatments exist, however, that can significantly increase rates of long-term abstinence.
2. It is essential that clinicians and health care delivery systems consistently identify and document tobacco use status and treat every tobacco user seen in a health care setting.
3. Tobacco dependence treatments are effective across a broad range of populations. Clinicians should encourage every patient willing to make a quit attempt to use the counseling treatments and medications recommended in this Guideline.
4. Brief tobacco dependence treatment is effective. Clinicians should offer every patient who uses tobacco at least the brief treatments shown to be effective in this Guideline.
5. Individual, group, and telephone counseling are effective, and their effectiveness increases with treatment intensity. Two components of counseling are especially effective, and clinicians should use these when counseling patients making a quit attempt:
Practical counseling (problemsolving/skills training)
Social support delivered as part of treatment
6. Numerous effective medications are available for tobacco dependence, and clinicians should encourage their use by all patients attempting to quit smoking—except when medically contraindicated or with specific populations for which there is insufficient evidence of effectiveness (i.e., pregnant women, smokeless tobacco users, light smokers, and adolescents).
Seven first-line medications (5 nicotine and 2 non-nicotine) reliably increase long-term smoking abstinence rates:
Nicotine nasal spray
Clinicians also should consider the use of certain combinations of medications identified as effective in this Guideline.
7. Counseling and medication are effective when used by themselves for treating tobacco dependence. The combination of counseling and medication, however, is more effective than either alone. Thus, clinicians should encourage all individuals making a quit attempt to use both counseling and medication.
8. Telephone quitline counseling is effective with diverse populations and has broad reach. Therefore, both clinicians and health care delivery systems should ensure patient access to quitlines and promote quitline use.
9. If a tobacco user currently is unwilling to make a quit attempt, clinicians should use the motivational treatments shown in this Guideline to be effective in increasing future quit attempts.
10. Tobacco dependence treatments are both clinically effective and highly cost-effective relative to interventions for other clinical disorders. Providing coverage for these treatments increases quit rates. Insurers and purchasers should ensure that all insurance plans include the counseling and medication identified as effective in this Guideline as covered benefits.