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Quit to Live: How and Why to Quit Smoking Today

Make 2006 the year you or someone close to you quits smoking.

The following information may be helpful to your efforts. If you’re looking to quit,
we encourage you to contact 1–800–QUIT–NOW or for additional support.

In addition, you may be interested in accessing the materials ABC World News Tonight, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and North American Quit Line Consortium, developed for its unprecedented month–long series called Quit to Live which ran throughout November 2005.  Quit to Live provided viewers with information about the dangers of smoking, smoking cessation, and lung cancer research and prevention. You can access the entire series and related materials on the Quit to Live Web site at*

Quitting Information | Health Consequences of Smoking | Lung Cancer, Smoking, and Secondhand Smoke |
You can Quit Smoking | Five Keys for Quitting Smoking | Special Situations or Conditions | Questions to Think About

Quit Resources
The following pages provide links on how to quit: Offers free materials, information, and support that have been effective in helping smokers quit.
How to quit
Tobacco Cessation – You can quit smoking now! The latest drugs and counseling techniques for treating tobacco use and dependence.
Questions and Answers About Quitting Smoking –National Cancer Institute

Quitting Information

  • In 2004, 44.5 million adults (20.9 percent) in the United States were current smokers—23.4 percent of men and 18.5 percent of women. An estimated 70 percent of these smokers said they wanted to quit.
  • An estimated 14.6 million (40.5 percent) adult everyday smokers in 2004 had stopped smoking for at least 1 day during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit.
  • An estimated 45.6 million adults were former smokers in 2004, representing 50.6 percent of those who had ever smoked.

For more information:
Cigarette Smoking Among Adults — United States, 2003

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Health Consequences of Smoking — Major Conclusions of the 2004 Surgeon General Report

  • Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and reducing the health of smokers in general.
  • Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long–term benefits, reducing risks for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general.
  • Smoking cigarettes with lower machine-measured yields of tar and nicotine provides no clear benefit to health.
  • The list of diseases caused by smoking has been expanded to include abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, pneumonia, periodontitis, and stomach cancer. These are in addition to diseases previously known to be caused by smoking, including bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, and throat cancers, chronic lung diseases, coronary heart and cardiovascular diseases, as well as reproductive effects and sudden infant death syndrome.

For more information see:
The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General

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Lung Cancer, Smoking, and Secondhand Smoke

  • Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. In fact, smoking tobacco is the major risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women are due to smoking. People who smoke are 10 to 20 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. The longer a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day increases a person's risk for developing lung cancer.
  • People who quit smoking have a lower risk of lung cancer than if they had continued to smoke, but their risk is higher than people who never smoked.
  • Smoke from other people's cigarettes, known as secondhand smoke, causes lung cancer as well. There are more than 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke. More than 50 of these chemicals cause cancer in people or animals. Every year, about 3,000 nonsmokers die from lung cancer due to secondhand smoke.

For more information visit:
Lung Cancer Risk Factors

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You Can Quit Smoking

  • If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how hard it can be.
  • Nicotine is a very addictive drug, and usually people make two or three tries, or more, before they successfully quit.
  • Each time you try to quit, you can learn what works for you and what situations are problematic.
  • Using proven cessation treatments can double your chance of success.

For more information visit: or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for assistance in quitting.

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Five Keys for Quitting Smoking

Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit and quit for good. You have the best chances of quitting if you use them together.

  1. Get Ready
  2. Get Support
  3. Learn new skills and behaviors
  4. Get medication and use it correctly.
  5. Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations.

1. Get Ready

  • Set a quit date.
  • Change your environment.
    1. Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.
    2. Don't let people smoke around you.
  • Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not.
  • Once you quit, don't smoke—NOT EVEN A PUFF!

2. Get Support and Encouragement

Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can
get support in many ways —

  • Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
  • Talk to your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking cessation coach or counselor).
  • Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Counseling doubles your chances of success.
  • The more help you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Programs are available at local hospitals and health centers free. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.
  • Telephone counseling is available at 1–800–QUIT–NOW.

3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors

  • Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task.
  • When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place.
  • Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book.
  • Plan something enjoyable to do every day.
  • Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

4. Get Medication and Use It Correctly

Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved six medications to help you quit smoking:
    1. Bupropion SR—Available by prescription.
    2. Nicotine gum—Available over–the–counter.
    3. Nicotine inhaler—Available by prescription.
    4. Nicotine nasal spray—Available by prescription.
    5. Nicotine patch—Available by prescription and over-the-counter.
    6. Nicotine lozenge—Available over–the–counter.
  • Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package.
  • All of these medications will double your chances of quitting and quitting for good.
  • Nearly everyone who is trying to quit can benefit from using a medication. However, if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before taking medications.

5. Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations

Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. The following are some difficult situations you may encounter:

  • Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.
  • Other Smokers. Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.
  • Weight Gain. Many smokers will gain some weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don't let weight gain distract you from your main goal—quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
  • Bad Mood or Depression. There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking. Some quit-smoking medications also lessen depression.

If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

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Special Situations or Conditions

Studies suggest that everyone can quit smoking. Your situation or condition can give you a special reason to quit.

  • Pregnant women/new mothers. By quitting, you protect your baby's health and your own.
  • Hospitalized patients. By quitting, you reduce health problems and help healing.
  • Heart attack patients. By quitting, you reduce your risk of a second heart attack.
  • Lung, head, and neck cancer patients. By quitting, you reduce your chance of a second cancer.
  • Parents of children and adolescents. By quitting, you protect your children and adolescents from illnesses caused by secondhand smoke.

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Questions to Think About

Think about the following questions before you try to stop smoking. You may want to talk about your answers with your health care provider.

  1. Why do you want to quit?
  2. When you tried to quit in the past, what helped and what didn't?
  3. What will be the most difficult situations for you after you quit? How will you plan to handle them?
  4. Who can help you through the tough times? Your family? Friends? Health care provider?
  5. What pleasures do you get from smoking? What ways can you still get pleasure if you quit?

Here are some questions to ask your health care provider.

  1. How can you help me to be successful at quitting?
  2. What medication do you think would be best for me and how should I take it?
  3. What should I do if I need more help?
  4. What is smoking withdrawal like? How can I get information on withdrawal?

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*  Links to non-Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.

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This page last reviewed December 27, 2005

United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health