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 any other drug
- Quitting smoking is hard and may require several attempts
- Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Feeling irritable, angry or anxious
- Having trouble concentrating
- Craving tobacco products
- Feeling hungrier than usual
Health Benefits of Quitting
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.
- 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.
Counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence and using them together is more effective than using either one alone.
To find support, tips, tools, and expert advice to help you or someone you love quit smoking visit smokefree.gov.