Asthma and Smoking

This probably isn't the first time you've heard that asthma and smoking don't go very well together. But you may not realize that quitting smoking when you have asthma is the most important step you can take to protect your lungs and prevent symptoms of asthma.

Why Should I Quit Smoking?

You've probably heard how smoking can be harmful to your asthma and health overall -- as well as the health of those around you. Here are some ways quitting can be helpful. If you quit, you will:


How Can I Quit Smoking?

There's no single way to quit smoking that works for everyone with asthma. A smoking cessation program may be helpful to you. Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs in your community.

Before you quit all at once ("cold turkey"), setting a plan will help:

  • Pick a date to stop smoking, and then prepare for it.
  • Tell family and friends you plan to quit.
  • Record when and why you smoke. You will come to know what triggers you to smoke.
  • Record what you do when you smoke.
  • List your reasons for quitting. Read over the list before and after you quit.
  • Find activities to replace smoking. Be ready to do something else when you want to smoke.
  • Ask your doctor about using nicotine replacement products such as gum, lozenges, patches, inhalers or nasal sprays. These are first-line medications which some people find very helpful. Nicotine-free prescription medications , like Chantix and Zyban, can also help you quit smoking.


Quitting Time: Day One

On the day you pick to quit, start that morning without a cigarette. Then follow these helpful tips:

  • Don't focus on what you are missing. Think about what you are gaining.
  • Tell yourself you are a great person for quitting. Remind yourself of this when you want a smoke.
  • When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and then release it slowly.
  • Keep your hands busy. Doodle, play a sport, knit, or work on a computer.
  • Change activities that were connected to smoking. Take a walk or read a book instead of taking a cigarette break.
  • Don't carry a lighter, matches, or cigarettes.
  • Go to places that don't allow smoking, such as museums and libraries.
  • Eat low-calorie, healthful foods when the urge to smoke strikes. Carrot and celery sticks, fresh fruits, and fat-free snacks are good choices. Avoid sugary or spicy foods that may lead to cigarette craving.
  • Drink a lot of fluids. Avoid alcoholic drinks. They can make you want to smoke. Select water, herbal teas, caffeine-free soft drinks, and juices.
  • Exercise. It will help you to relax.
  • Hang out with non-smokers.
  • Seek support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.



How Quickly Will I See Benefits From Quitting Smoking?

After 20 minutes of not smoking:

  • Your blood pressure and pulse rate begin to decrease.
  • Circulation and the temperature of your hands and feet begin to increase.

After 12 hours of not smoking:

  • Thecarbon monoxidelevel in your blood returns to normal.

After 2 weeks to 3 months of not smoking:

  • Your body circulates blood better
  • Your lungs function better

After one to nine months of not smoking:

  • Coughing and shortness of breath lessen

After one year of not smoking:

  • Your risk of heart disease decreases to half that of a smoker's risk.

After five years of not smoking:

  • Your risk of getting mouth, throat, or esophaguscancer drops to half that of a smoker.

After 10 years of not smoking:

  • Your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to almost half that of a smoker.
  • Your risk of other cancers, such as cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.

After 15 years of not smoking:


How Will I Feel When I Quit Smoking?

When you first quit smoking, you may go through withdrawal and:

Although withdrawal symptoms will be the strongest when you first quit, they will quickly improve and should go away completely within a few weeks.

I Have Tried to Quit Smoking Before and Failed. What if I Can't Do It?

To quit smoking, you must be ready emotionally and mentally. It may take several tries before you are successful. Some people are more ready to quit than others. Look at these five stages of change that people go through to successfully quit smoking.

  • Stage One: Pre-contemplation. You don't want to quit smoking, but you may try to quit because you feel pressured to quit.
  • Stage Two: Contemplation. You want to quit within the next 6 months. You haven't taken steps to quit, but you want to quit.
  • Stage Three: Preparation. You take small steps to quit such as cutting back on smoking or switching to a lighter brand.
  • Stage Four: Action. You commit to quitting. You make changes in your actions and environment to help cope with urges to smoke and remain smoke-free for six months.
  • Stage Five: Maintenance. You have not smoked for about six months and work to prevent relapse.


Remember: Smoking again (relapse) is common. In fact, 75% of those who quit will smoke again. Most smokers try to quit three times before being successful. Don't give up!


WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kumar Shital, DO on October 22, 2020


SOURCES:  American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "No Butts About It: Smoking Makes Asthma Worse." Medscape: "Got Asthma? Quit Smoking." American Lung Association: "Quit Smoking." Health Resources and Services Administration: "Smoking Cessation." FDA: "FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products."

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