Diabetes and Smoking

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on May 08, 2021

Smoking is bad for everyone, and it's especially risky if you have diabetes.

The nicotine in cigarettes makes your blood vessels harden and narrow, curbing blood flow around your body. And since diabetes makes you more likely to get heart disease, you definitely don't want the extra risk that comes from smoking.

No matter how much or how long you have smoked, quitting helps your health. You'll feel better, look better (since smoking gives you wrinkles before you're old), and you'll save money, too.

14 Quit-Smoking Tips

If you have diabetes, here are some tips to help you quit, based on guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

1. Set a quit date. You don't have to quit immediately. If you know it's more realistic for you to kick the habit after a big event or deadline, make that your quit date.

2. Tell your doctor the date. You'll have built-in support.

3. Make smoking inconvenient. Don't have anything you need to smoke on hand, like ash trays, lighters, or matches.

4. Breathe deeply when you crave a cigarette. Hold your breath for 10 seconds, and then exhale slowly.

5. Spend time in places where you can't smoke because it's banned, such as a library, theater, or museum.

6. Hang out with friends who are also working on kicking the habit. Go to places that don't allow smoking.

7. Reach for low-calorie, good-for-you foods instead of smoking. Choose fresh fruit and crisp, crunchy vegetables.

8. Exercise to ease your stress instead of lighting up.

9. Go decaf. Pass up coffee, soft drinks that have caffeine, and alcohol, as they all can increase the urge to smoke.

10. Keep your hands too busy for cigarettes. Draw, text, type, or knit, for examples.

11. Hack your habits. If you always had a cigarette on your work break, take a walk, talk to a friend, or do something else instead.

12. Wrap a cigarette in a sheet of paper and put a rubber band around it. It will be harder to get one. You'll have time to notice what you're doing and stop.

13. Let your family and friends know you're quitting smoking. Ask for their support. If they smoke, tell them not to do so around you. If they do, leave.

14. Be good to yourself. Do things that you enjoy. You'll notice that you don't need a cigarette to have fun.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

You can also ask your doctor if nicotine replacement therapy might help.

Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, and nasal sprays are four ways to curb cravings for nicotine without a prescription.

You wear the patch on your skin, between the neck and waist. It steadily supplies small amounts of nicotine.

The gum lets you control the amount of nicotine you get each day. Use it for up to 30 minutes at a time.

The nasal spray provides fast relief from nicotine cravings but requires a prescription.

The lozenges also control the amount of nicotine you get each day. They dissolve on the tongue.

There are also two drugs your doctor can prescribe that may help: Chantix and Zyban.

When using any of these products, follow the directions on the package and report any side effects to your doctor.

Don't use more than one type, and don't smoke while using nicotine replacement products, since doing so can cause serious side effects.