Quitting Time

More than 438,000 premature deaths from smoking occur each year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute. The habit harms nearly all organs and causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease. The good news: Nonsmokers substantially reduce their risk of these diseases, and the percentages increase the longer a person remains smoke free.

Withdrawal symptoms (weight gain, sadness, anxiety, and restlessness) can be difficult, but are obviously worth enduring. Millions quit for good every year; here’s how:

  • Customize the advice: Consult with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized quit plan. Know where you’ll turn for additional help.
  • Add nicotine replacement: 5 forms of nicotine replacement products — patch, gum, lozenge, nasal spray, and inhaler — are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
  • Get a grip: Realize that withdrawal symptoms are most challenging during the first 3 days of quitting; a typical craving lasts only a couple minutes.
  • Never have another smoke: Once you quit, stay there. Just a puff can lead you back to addiction.
  • Think of the benefits: Ex–smokers have more control over their life, experience better health, and set a good example.

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