Quit Smoking

It’s no secret. Quitting is difficult. But you’ve got to do it.
Anyone who is a smoker knows that quitting can be one of the most difficult challenges of a lifetime. But as you can see from the statistics, you’re not only harming yourself, but also everyone around you, especially the children. You may have to try and try again, but consider these substantial and immediate health benefits from quitting:

  • Immediately upon quitting: Blood circulation increases, blood pressure and heart rate quickly improve and the carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in the blood soon return to normal. (Blood pressure levels return to pre-smoking levels within 20 minutes.)
  • Within a few days of quitting: Breathing becomes easier and the senses of smell and taste improve.
  • Within two to three months of quitting: Lung function improves up to 30 percent.
  • One year after quitting: Risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent.
  • Five to 15 years after quitting: The risk of stroke is similar to that of a nonsmoker. The risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus lessens significantly.
  • Ten years after quitting: The risk of developing lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent below that of a person who continues to smoke.
  • Fifteen years after quitting: The additional risk of heart disease is the same as someone who never smoked.
  • People ages 60 to 64 who quit smoking are 10 percent less likely to die during the next 15 years than regular smokers.
  • The benefit is even greater for individuals who quit smoking before age 50. Their risk of dying in the next 15 years is half that of a person who smokes.
  • If you’ve had a heart attack and quit smoking, you can reduce your risk of recurrent heart attack or sudden cardiac death by as much as 50 percent.

What works to help quit smoking?
Seventy percent of smokers report that they want to quit, but less than 5 percent of smokers who attempt to quit are able to stay tobacco-free for 3–12 months. Although quitting smoking is difficult, it’s not impossible. Recent research has found that there are a lot of things that work in tobacco cessation treatment including treatment with medications (pharmacotherapy), counseling and social support. The most important thing that has been learned from this research is that it is the combination of these tactics that works the best.

quit smoking options
Treatment with medications (Pharmacotherapy)
Pharmacotherapy can more than double the likelihood of successful quitting. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) includes gum, the patch and lozenges. Prescription drugs available include brands with the drug bupropion (an anti-depressant), an NRT inhaler and an NRT nasal spray. Research reported in “Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence” Clinical Practice Guidelines, prepared by the US Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service, rates the increased likelihood of quit success by available drugs as:

Type of

Increase in
Likelihood of Quitting

Nicotine Gum

50 percent

Nicotine Patch

90 percent

Nicotine Nasal Spray

170 percent

Nicotine Inhaler

180 percent


110 percent

NRT may not be suitable if you're pregnant or have heart disease. Please read the American Heart Association recommendations on NRT

Treatment through counseling
The Clinical Practice Guideline reports that treating nicotine addiction with counseling increases the likelihood of quitting by 20–70 percent. This includes individual, group or telephone counseling. Broken down, the increased likelihood of quit success with counseling is:

Type of

Increase in
Likelihood of Quitting


20 percent


30 percent


70 percent


This content is reviewed regularly. Last updated 10/23/08.


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Cost of Smoking Calculator

How much does it cost to smoke? Use this calculator to find out.  Saving money is just one more good reason to quit smoking.

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Total Savings: $

Smokers have more than twice the risk of heart attack as nonsmokers.  Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke, too.

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