Smoking Cessation

Is it worth quitting?

If you're having trouble getting motivated, think about these benefits:

  • Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, blood pressure, pulse and body temperature return to normal.
  • Within 8 hours of your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal and oxygen levels increase to normal.
  • Within 2 days of quitting, nerve endings start to regrow and your ability to smell and taste improve.
  • Within 3 months, circulation improves and lung function increases up to 30%.

How do I get ready to quit?

  • Know why you are quitting. List the benefits that this change will bring you. Post the list to remind yourself.
  • Tell friends who will be supportive. Let them know how they can help.
  • Know your smoking patterns and routine and make changes as needed.
  • Recruit a friend to quit at the same time.
  • Use the resources and links listed at the end of this page for support.
  • Get rid of any tobacco products in your room or apartment.
  • Plan regular exercise.
  • Have low calorie snacks available.
  • Collect the money you save and treat yourself to something.

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What are the withdrawal symptoms?

  • Tobacco craving lasts a maximum of 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Irritability, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating are common.
  • Increased appetite: Weight gain is 5 to 10 pounds on average.  The health benefits for quitting far outweigh concerns about gaining weight.
  • Fatigue and dizziness may occur as well.

Symptoms are most intense during the first 3 to 4 days. Within 20 days, the average number of symptoms drops to just 1.

What about those first few weeks?

Here are some things to keep in mind that will make quitting easier:

  • Don't quit everything all at once. Focus on smoking. If you try to stop drinking coffee, change your diet and quit smoking at the same time, it will be much harder to be successful.
  • Focus on the present. Deal with one urge at a time instead of anticipating more cravings
  • Drink plenty of water. It will flush the nicotine out of your system and help you feel better.
  • Don't drink alcohol for 3 weeks. Because it affects your judgment, you're more likely to smoke without thinking about it.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You'll feel better and can keep up the motivation to stay quit.
  • Take warm showers to relieve tension.

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I'm worried about gaining weight. What can I do?

Fear of weight gain prevents many people from quitting smoking. Nicotine suppresses normal appetite signals, but you can re-learn how to eat. Learn to "listen" to your body's signals of true hunger and fullness:

  • Try not to go longer than 2 to 4 hours without a meal or snack. This prevents you from getting too hungry.
  • Throughout the day, eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks.
  • Eating breakfast is critical to stabilize brain chemistry and prevent late-day carbohydrate cravings.
  • Respond to your cravings if you have them, but with small portions. Restricting food triggers binges and causes guilt. Don't put foods in "good/bad" categories.
  • Emphasize unprocessed, whole foods, like whole grains and fresh fruit. These foods will keep your blood sugar stable and help your mood, too.
  • Specific chemicals in ex-smokers' brains cause cravings for fats. Include a little fat or healthy oils in your meals. Your body chemistry needs these foods, and they will keep you from feeling hungry again soon.
  • Cravings gradually disappear as eating patterns normalize. Regular, moderate exercise is very helpful in this process.

What if I slip up?

It's normal for some people to slip or relapse, so don't assume that it means you can't succeed. These questions can help you learn from a slip.

  • Were you well prepared to quit?
  • What happened?
  • In what situation did you begin to use tobacco again?
  • What people were with you?
  • What could you have done to avoid that cigarette or chewing tobacco?
  • How can you deal with stress without tobacco?

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Reasons to try to quit again

You can prevent damaging health effects such as

  • shortness of breath
  • decreased stamina and fatigue
  • cold hands and feet
  • colds, flu, asthma and bronchitis
  • tooth and gum disease
  • skin wrinkling and aging
  • lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Damaging lung effects are reversible after you quit.

Remember: every attempt you make improves your chances of quitting and staying quit!

What are the different methods for quitting?

  • Cold Turkey: Stop smoking all at once.
  • Clock Method: Increase the amount of time between each cigarette or chew.
  • Slow withdrawal method: Taper/decrease the number of cigarettes smoked each day and/or change brands to gradually lower nicotine varieties.
  • Behavior modification: This can be provided in a group or through the use of self-help booklets.
  • Nicotine replacement methods: Use the nicotine patch or gum to decrease the physiological symptoms of dependency. You still need to address the psychological and behavioral aspects of smoking. These are more expensive methods, and the dose prescribed must be appropriate for the degree of dependence. You must stop smoking immediately when nicotine replacement is started. Combining nicotine replacement with a behavioral program is most effective.
  • Bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin) has been shown to be effective in helping people quit smoking.  It is usually taken for a few weeks before quitting and then another few weeks after quitting.  Bupropion may be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy and combining the two may be even more effective.

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How do I help a friend quit?

Click here for ways to help a friend.

Resources

www.QuitNowRI.com, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)  
The Smokers' Helpline provides referrals to local programs, phone counseling and will mail out self-help materials and quit smoking information packets. It is free and confidential.

University Health Services 401.863-3953
Confidential medical care, including prescriptions for Zyban. Pamphlets on quitting smoking available throughout the building. Located at 13 Brown Street on the corner of Brown and Charlesfield Streets.

Brown University Smoking Cessation Research Study
Want to quit smoking? If so, you may be eligible to participate in a research study by Brown University investigators examining a medication to help alcohol drinkers who want to quit cigarette smoking. If eligible, participants receive, at no cost, a 6-week supply of nicotine patch and 6 individual sessions with a smoking cessation counselor, and study medication. In addition, participants may earn up to $150 for completing questionnaires and interviews. To learn more about the study, call (401) 863-6684.

Links you can use

Trytostop.org
An online, interactive quit site developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The Quit Wizard will help you assess your risk factors, set a quit date and keep you smoke free. Other features include success stories, expert advice and a bulletin board. There are many language options including Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Hatian-Creole, Russian and Portuguese.

Web MD’s Smoking Cessation Center 
This site allows you to set goals, design your own personalized quit plan, find out about nicotine replacement therapy and read up on quitting options. There is a smoking cessation support group and articles on the latest news, like facts about nicotine water.

Quitnet 
Run by Boston University, Quitnet offers quitting guides, personalized quit plans and forums with expert counselors.

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Disclaimer: Health Education is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Education maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Education offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.