Smoking isn’t good for you. This is not news to anybody, but why exactly is it bad?
Smoking just one cigarette brings thousands of harmful chemical substances in contact with the body’s cells. These chemicals cause damage to numerous portions of the body with every puff. It is important to note, however, that smoking any substance will have an adverse health effect on your body, such as vaping, e-cigarettes, etc.
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body can start to heal. When all is said and done, you will feel better and have more energy to be active with your family and friends, and the risks associated with smoking will decrease. Your body will thank you!
How Smoking Impacts the Body
Smoking hurts almost every part of the body. We touched on this previously, but the effects of smoking affect much more than just your lungs. Watch this five-minute clip if you are interested in learning more about just how badly smoking affects your body, but also, just how great it is for your body when you stop.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. For example, smoking increases your risk of developing:
- Lung cancer and many other types of cancer
- Heart disease and stroke
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other lung diseases
- Pregnancy problems
- Gum disease
- Vision loss
- Type 2 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Check out these real stories of people living with serious health effects from smoking.
Smoking hurts other people, too.
Secondhand smoke is a mix of the smoke that comes from your cigarette and the smoke that you breathe out. Secondhand smoke is dangerous and can cause health problems for the people around you.
In babies and children, breathing in secondhand smoke is linked to:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Bronchitis and Pneumonia
- Severe asthma attacks
- Ear infections
In adults, breathing in secondhand smoke increases your risk of:
- Bronchitis and Pneumonia
- Asthma Attacks
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer
How can I Quit?
You can quit smoking.
Quitting smoking is hard, but millions of people have done it successfully. In fact, more than half of Americans who have ever smoked have quit. You could be one of them!
Nicotine — the drug found in all tobacco products — is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. It’s the nicotine in cigarettes that causes cravings, or the strong feeling that you want to smoke. Remember — quitting isn’t easy, but it is possible!
Find out more about steps you can take as you get ready to quit smoking.
- Make a list of the reasons you want to quit
- Set a quit date and make a plan to deal with cravings
- Ask your family, friends, and coworkers for support
- Talk to your doctor about counseling and medicines that can help you quit
- Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit Smokefree.gov for free help
- Download these free apps for 24/7 support and encouragement
- Text QUIT to 47848 or visit SmokefreeTXT to get daily texts to support you in quitting smoking
Benefits of Quitting
You’ll feel better after you quit. If you’ve watched the linked videos, you already have a good grasp on the benefits of quitting.
Your body begins to heal as soon as you quit smoking. Here are some ways you’ll feel better:
- You’ll breathe more easily
- You’ll cough and wheeze less
- Your senses of taste and smell will improve
- You’ll have more energy
- Your lungs will become stronger, making it easier for you to be active
Find out more about how quitting smoking will help your health.
Quitting smoking will help you live a longer, healthier life.
After you quit smoking:
- Your risk of having a heart attack or stroke goes down
- Your risk of getting cancer goes down
- The levels of oxygen and carbon monoxide in your blood return to normal
Will quitting make me gain weight?
Some people worry about gaining weight when they quit smoking. It’s true that some people gain weight after quitting, but you can help prevent weight gain by making healthy choices. For example:
- Get active. Learn how you can get into a fitness routine.
- Eat healthy snacks, like vegetables or fruit. Learn how you can eat healthily.
- Talk with your doctor about ways to control your weight. Learn how to stay at a healthy weight.
To learn more ways to watch your weight after quitting, check out these tips.
Make a Quit-Plan
Write down your reasons to quit.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. For example, maybe you want to set a healthy example for your children, or maybe you want to save money. Keep the list with you to remind yourself why quitting is worth it.
Most smokers want to quit, close to 70% of them. The thing with quitting smoking is that it is going to look different for everyone who does it. Some people may be able to stop cold turkey, and others may need to wean themselves off. Either way you go about this, it won’t be easy. Quitting cold turkey, however, especially if you are a frequent smoker, will be difficult.
Do not beat yourself up if you aren’t successful on your first go with quitting. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you are in this for the long-term benefit. Think of the experiences you gain from a failure as a trial run for the real thing.
Set a quit date.
- Pick a date that gives you enough time to get ready to quit — but make sure it’s soon enough that you don’t lose your motivation
- Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your quit date so they can support you
- Think about situations that might trigger you to smoke and plan how you’ll handle them without smoking
- Right before your quit date, go through your house, car, and workplace to get rid of anything that has to do with smoking — throw away all your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, and matches
- Clean your clothes so they don’t smell like smoke
Check out this online quit plan tool or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support and help setting up your quit plan.
Learn about withdrawal so that you can be prepared and know what to expect.
Switch up your daily routine.
Changing your routine on your quit date and afterward can help you break habits related to smoking. Try:
- Taking a different route to work
- Avoiding activities and places you connect with smoking — at least for the first few weeks
- Doing things and going places where smoking isn’t allowed
- Making getting active and eating healthy part of your quit plan — eat healthy snacks, go for walks, and drink lots of water
Break the connection between eating and smoking.
Many people like to smoke when they finish a meal. Here are some ways to break the connection:
- Get up from the table as soon as you’re done eating
- Brush your teeth and think about the fresh, clean feeling in your mouth
- Go for a walk after meals
Stress and Cravings
Deal with stress.
Some people smoke to deal with stress. But there are ways to deal with stress without smoking. Manage stress by creating peaceful times in your daily schedule. Try relaxation methods like deep breathing, short walks, and meditation. Learn more about managing stress. You can also check out these tips for dealing with stress as you quit.
When you quit smoking, the urge to smoke will come and go, but it’ll gradually decrease over time. Most cravings only last a short time. Here are some ways to manage cravings:
- Keep your hands busy — try brushing your teeth, washing your hands, sorting the mail, or doing the dishes
- Have healthy snacks ready — like baby carrots and celery, apples, or whole-grain crackers
- Try chewing sugar-free gum to keep your mouth busy
- Distract yourself with a new activity — try playing a game on your phone, chatting with a friend, or doing crosswords or other puzzles
- If you used to smoke while driving, try something new — try taking public transportation or ride with a friend
- Take several deep breaths to help you relax
- Write down your list of reasons for quitting
Remember, quitting may be hard — focus on finding what works for you to manage your cravings.
Rely on a Support Team
Talk with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
- Strategies for quitting smoking that are likely to work best for you
- Medicines that can improve your chances of quitting — and how to use these medicines the right way
When you stop smoking, your body goes through withdrawal from nicotine. This means you may feel irritable, anxious, restless, or hungry. You may even have trouble concentrating or sleeping. Find out about medicines that can help with withdrawal.
What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover services to help people quit smoking. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to find out more. Medicare may also cover services to help people quit smoking at no cost. If you have Medicare, learn about Medicare coverage for services to quit smoking. If you don’t have insurance, you may still be able to get free or low-cost services to quit smoking. Find a health center near you and ask about help to quit smoking. To learn more, check out these resources:
- Free preventive care for adults covered by the Affordable Care Act
- Health coverage rights and protections
- Understanding your health insurance and how to use it [PDF – 698 KB]
There are local resources available to help you quit.
Call the Georgia Tobacco Quitline today at (877)-260-STOP if you are interested in quitting using tobacco products. This helpline is available 24 hours a day and can send you a free four-week supply of nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum or patches, for Georgia residents that qualify.
If a four-week supply is not enough for you and the idea of paying for replacement therapies seems costly, consider this. One pack of cigarettes in the state of Georgia averages to $5.40, and if you smoke a pack a day, in a 30 day month you are spending $162. A 4-week pack of generic Nicorette gum at Walmart is around $40 depending on your preferred flavor and dosage. That is an average savings of about $120 a month alone.
Stick with It
Don’t give up!
Remember, it takes time to overcome addiction. Check out these tips for staying smoke-free.
Learn from the past.
Many people try to quit more than once before they succeed. And it’s normal to have slips — especially in the first 3 months after quitting. If you’ve tried to quit before, think about what worked for you and what didn’t. For example, being around other smokers can make it harder to quit.
Quitting smoking is a journey. It’s not easy, and I am not here to tell you it is. There is never a perfect time to quit, no matter when you do it is going to be a challenge.
You are going to go through withdrawal. I cannot sugar coat that. Withdrawal can last anywhere from several days to weeks as your body flushes out the nicotine it has become used to having. Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include, but are not limited to, cravings, headaches, insomnia, increased appetite, cough, and fatigue.
Withdrawal is unavoidable if you want to accomplish becoming a non-smoker, and that is going to be the case today, tomorrow, in a year, in 20 years, forever. You will never want to put yourself through withdrawal, but it is necessary if you are serious about quitting.
Remember, it is not the nicotine that is the problem, it’s everything else in a cigarette or a vape.