Home Am I at Risk? Smoking - Quitting Smoking

Smoking - Quitting Smoking

How do I quit smoking?

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for you health, cardiovascular and otherwise. It is not easy to quit smoking. Many women have to try a few times before they are able to quit for good. Most people relapse in the first 3 months. If this happens, don’t despair—just try again.

Quitting smoking may be more difficult for women than for men. Many women are concerned that they will gain weight if they quit smoking. Women also differ from men in how they respond emotionally and physically to smoking cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes improves a woman’s mood, making it more difficult for her to quit. That is why it is not a good idea to quit smoking before your period, because you may mistake premenstrual symptoms such as anxiety and irritability as symptoms of smoking withdrawal. Furthermore, women’s bodies process nicotine differently, suggesting that nicotine replacement treatment should be tailored differently for women.

Will I gain weight if I quit?

Women may gain 6 to 12 pounds in the year that they quit smoking. However, bear in mind that almost 60% of people who continue to smoke will gain weight too. The health risks of smoking far outweigh the risks of gaining some weight. Don’t let the fear of gaining a few pounds stop you from quitting smoking and significantly improving your health.You can help prevent weight gain by exercising and eating a healthy diet. Some types of smoking aids (nicotine gum and Zyban) help delay weight gain.

Are there medicines to help me quit?

Yes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved various types of nicotine replacements to help you quit smoking. These reduce your urge to smoke by providing the nicotine that you would normally crave from cigarettes. They include:

  • Nicotine patch—worn on the skin and supplies a steady amount of nicotine to the body through the skin, e.g., Nicoderm
  • Nicotine gum—chewing releases nicotine into the bloodstream through the lining in your mouth, e.g., Nicorette
  • Nicotine nasal spray—sprayed into your nose and passes into your bloodstream, e.g., Nicotrol
  • Nicotine inhaler—inhaled through the mouth and is absorbed in the mouth and throat, e.g., Nicotrol

You can buy some of these over the counter at your pharmacy, but you will need a prescription for the inhaler and nasal spray. There is also a pill that helps you quit smoking called bupropion (Zyban). It is an antidepressant that helps ease withdrawal symptoms. Zyban is available by prescription only.

When used correctly, these medications are equally effective at helping you quit for good. They can double your chances of quitting. Nicotine replacements contain much lower amounts of nicotine than cigarettes and none of the other harmful chemicals. You should follow the instructions on dosing so that you gradually wean yourself off the nicotine replacement product.

Resources for Quitting

National Alliance for Tobacco Cessation: becomeanex.org

Surgeon General US Department of Health & Human Services: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/

American Heart Association: How Can I Quit Smoking?

National Smoking Quitline: http://smokefree.gov/

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/

Next: Secondhand Smoke, Smoking & Pregnancy


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