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How to Quit

Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it has major health benefits. Many people wrongly assume that kicking the habit won't make a difference. They may tell themselves, "I've been a smoker all of my life, so there's no point in quitting now." Plus, it becomes part of their routine. But both data and experiences show it's never too late to stop. In fact, some of the health benefits happen pretty quickly. Blood pressure, for example, drops fairly quickly after not smoking.


Need more convincing? Consider these milestones from the U.S. Surgeon General:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate will decrease.
  • Within 12 hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will decrease to normal.
  • Within 3 months of quitting, your risk of a heart attack decreases and your lungs will begin to work better.
  • After 1 year, your added risk of coronary artery disease is half that of someone who smokes.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

Be part of one in a million. Each year, 1.3 million Americans quit smoking. You can do it. Today there are more former smokers than current smokers.

8 Steps to quit

If you want to stop smoking or help a loved one quit, take the time to map out a plan. Here are some steps you can take:

Slips and Relapses

Many people who try to quit smoking will take a puff or have one or two cigarettes after quitting (called a slip); others begin to smoke regularly again (called a relapse). Slips and relapses can be common in the early stages of quitting.

Don't be too hard on yourself, and DO try again! Take the time to learn from any setbacks you might face. Take note of what might have pushed you to smoke again (for example, withdrawal symptoms, being in a certain place or situation, stress or weight gain).

It's time to rally some additional support:

  • Ask your health care provider if you need nicotine replacement medicine or a different product.
  • Talk with former smokers about how to best cope with slip-ups.
  • Remember to stay positive.

If you find yourself getting discouraged, remind yourself that quitting is hard, and think about whether speaking with a counselor would be helpful.

  • Last Edited 01/31/2017