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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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How to Quit Smoking

How Hard Will It Be to Quit?

Everyone is different, and how tough it is depends on things such as:

  • The number of cigarettes you smoke daily
  • The number of people you spend time with who smoke (parents, friends, and co-workers)
  • The reasons why you smoke (such as to control your weight, to fit in, or during certain social situations)

Focus on the benefits. Within hours of stopping cigarettes, your body starts to recover from the effects of nicotine and additives. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature -- all of which are higher than they should be because of the nicotine in cigarettes -- return to healthier levels. You can breathe easier. Poisonous carbon monoxide in your blood drops, so your blood can carry more oxygen.

No doubt about it: Quitting helps your whole body. It even helps your looks, as you'll be less likely to get wrinkles when you're still young. And you'll save money, too.

Why Is Smoking So Addictive?

Blame nicotine, the main drug in tobacco, for your smoking addiction. Your brain quickly adapts to it and craves more and more to feel the way you used to feel with just one cigarette.

Over time, the brain learns to predict when you're going to smoke a cigarette. You feel down and tired, so you think, "I need a cigarette," and the cycle starts again.

It's not just about brain chemistry. Certain situations make you want to smoke.

Everyone's triggers are different. Yours might include the smell of cigarette smoke, having an ashtray next to you, seeing a carton of cigarettes at the store, having certain food or drinks, ending a good meal, or talking with someone with whom you normally smoke cigarettes. Sometimes just the way you feel (sad or happy) is a trigger. One of the biggest keys to quitting smoking is spotting the triggers that make you crave smoking and trying to avoid them.

What if I Start Smoking Again?

It's called "relapse," and it happens to a lot of people before they kick the habit for good.

Relapse is normal in strong addictions like smoking. If you relapse, try to smoke as little as possible until you're ready to quit again. Stopping permanently is a process that might take some time. It's worth it!

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 16, 2014

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