how to stop smoking

If you’ve been struggling to quit smoking, you’re not alone. But it is possible to quit.

In 2020, more than 30 million people smoked cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), many would prefer to quit. But each day, about 1,600 youths try their first cigarette.

Your journey with smoking probably began many years ago when you started experimenting with those first cigarettes. As time passed, your body became used to smoking and you began to crave the feeling you got from lighting one up. It became a part of you.

The Costs of Smoking

Cigarette smoking is costly — not only financially but to your health and relationships as well.

In Pennsylvania, a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day spends about $8.25. That’s $247.50 per month and $2,970 per year. Imagine what you could do with that extra spending money.

Smoking cigarettes also leads to disease and damages nearly every organ in your body. Going out for a smoke also takes time away from your family and friends — and secondhand smoke can even harm your loved ones.

Getting Ready to Quit

Smoking cessation is a journey and a learning process. Think of it as a new beginning, with change occurring over time. As time passes, you will learn more about being a nonsmoker and will develop a new identity.

Remember: You are not your cigarettes. Your addiction to nicotine does not define you.

Even if you have been smoking for years, it’s never too late to quit. Here are some tips for beginning a smoke-free life.

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How to Quit Smoking

Choose a quit method that you will stick with — and remember you don’t have to start the journey alone. Taper your number of cigarettes each day or lean on your family and friends for support.

Nicotine Cravings and Coping Skills

Temptation is always around, but you can learn how to face it head-on without ever reaching for a cigarette. The key is to stay focused and find ways to distract yourself from smoking. For example, deep breathing can help, as can finding something to hold in your hand instead of a cigarette.

Know Your Nicotine Addiction Symptoms

Your body will naturally start reacting to the loss of nicotine, which is an addictive substance. There are a variety of symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, which can include headaches and irritability, for example. However, there are many things you can try to help alleviate them.

Meet Your Needs Without Smoking

Do you know why you smoke? Figuring out why you smoke will help you to find new activities or strategies to avoid smoking.

Preventing Weight Gain and Staying Fit as You Quit Smoking

One side effect of quitting smoking is an increase in appetite, which for some translates into weight gain. There are steps you can take to continue on your journey to wellness without worrying about the scale.

Join Our Tobacco Cessation Support Groups

UPMC’s tobacco cessation program offers several ongoing support groups to help you quit using tobacco and vaping products and “stay quit.”

UPMC’s tobacco cessation services include access to:

  • No-obligation quit consultants.
  • Freedom from Smoking seven-week course.
  • Individual cessation coaching.
  • Nicotine support groups.
  • Online support groups.
  • Educational materials.
  • Discounts on products.
  • Telephone-based quit support and resources

You also can join an in-person nicotine support group or a virtual support group on Facebook. Our team of tobacco treatment specialists lead these groups and feature active discussions for current and former tobacco users to learn about tobacco use, addiction, treatment options, and supportive resources. For more information, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

Get Screened for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer screening saves lives. At UPMC, we focus on diagnosing lung cancer at its earliest stages when it is easiest to treat. If you are a smoker, it’s even more important to check regularly for symptoms of lung cancer, such as:

  • A cough that worsens over time.
  • Constant chest pain.
  • Swelling of the neck and face.
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

Remember, you are not alone in your journey to becoming a nonsmoker.

Please visit our smoking cessation resources and UPMC Tobacco Treatment Service at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center for more information on how to quit smoking.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.