This July 4th, Gain Freedom From Tobacco Use
Why not use this 4th of July as an opportunity to declare your independence from tobacco use and live a fuller, healthier life? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers, which features real people who are living with the health consequences caused by smoking, shows how dramatically smoking can affect one’s independence and quality of life. Stories from Tips participants also demonstrate firsthand how quitting smoking can improve one’s quality of life, help avoid life-altering illnesses, and help regain personal independence.
Tobacco Products Are Designed for Addiction
The design and contents of tobacco products make them addictive. And cigarettes deliver more nicotine and deliver it quicker than ever before. Filtered cigarettes are every bit as addictive and are no safer than other cigarettes. Youth are more sensitive to nicotine and can become dependent earlier than adults. Because of their addiction, about three out of four teen smokers end up smoking into adulthood, even if they intend to quit after a few years. That’s not all:
- The design and contents of tobacco products make them more attractive and addictive than ever before. For instance, cigarettes today deliver nicotine more quickly from the lungs to the heart and brain.
- While nicotine is the key chemical compound that causes and sustains the powerful addicting effects of cigarettes, other ingredients and design features make them even more attractive and more addictive.
- The powerful addicting contents of tobacco products affect reward centers in the brain.
- Evidence suggests that psychosocial, biologic, and genetic factors may also play a role in tobacco addiction.
- Adolescents’ bodies are more sensitive to nicotine, and adolescents are more easily addicted than adults. This helps explain why about 1,000 teenagers become daily smokers every day.
There is no safe cigarette.
- The evidence indicates that changing cigarette designs over the last five decades, including filtered, low-tar, and “light” variations, have NOT reduced overall disease risk among smokers and may have hindered prevention and cessation efforts.
- The overall health of the public could be harmed if the introduction of novel tobacco products a) encourages tobacco use among people who would otherwise be unlikely to use a tobacco product, b) delays cessation among persons who would otherwise quit using tobacco altogether, or c) causes relapse among former tobacco users.
The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of smoking-related disease and death is to never smoke, and if you do smoke, to quit.
- Quitting at any age and at any time is beneficial. It's never too late to quit, but the sooner the better.
- Quitting gives your body a chance to heal the damage caused by smoking.
- When smokers quit, the risk for a heart attack drops sharply after just 1 year; stroke risk can fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s after 2-5 years; risks for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half after 5 years; and the risk for dying of lung cancer drops by half after 10 years.
- Smokers often make several attempts before they are able to quit, but new strategies for cessation, including nicotine replacement and non-nicotine medications, can make it easier.
- Talk to your doctor or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free quitting help and to get started on a quit plan today.
Odds Are in Your Favor: Keep Trying to Quit
Breaking the addiction is harder for some people than others. Despite this challenge, more than half of all adults who ever smoked have succeeded in quitting. If you are trying to quit or considering it, keep with it! It may take several attempts before you succeed—don’t give up! Following are two prime examples of individuals—former smokers from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign—who successfully quit after several quit attempts:
Tiffany’s mother died when Tiffany was just 17 years old. So last year, when her own daughter was going to turn 17, Tiffany realized that she could be repeating history if she didn’t quit smoking herself. She recalls her dependence on cigarettes. "I had gotten to the point where I didn’t enjoy smoking anymore, but I craved cigarettes. If I ran out, I would rummage irritably through drawers and my purse or even ask neighbors for a cigarette. I felt like nothing would relieve my irritation except a cigarette. I was definitely addicted."
Tiffany tried a variety of quitting aids, and she was finally successful in quitting. Now she says she feels a great sense of freedom. "Smoking takes you away from other things you care about. It takes up time and occupies you from doing other things, and it puts distance between you and loved ones who don’t smoke. Now I’m not bound to a pack of cigarettes—I can do what I want, when I want, and with whomever I want. I can walk and not feel winded; I can taste my food better. I don’t have to check for bad breath, and I’ve found healthy ways to relieve stress."
Her advice to smokers: "It’s important to understand that it’s an addiction, and you have to be willing to use all of the resources available to help you quit so you can live a new, independent lifestyle." For more information about Tiffany, refer to Tiffany’s story.
Mariano smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for more than 30 years. He says, "The first thing I did every morning when I woke up was to smoke—even before getting out of bed. During the day, I couldn’t go 2 hours without smoking—I would have to leave whatever I was doing to go smoke. For some reason, I thought I needed a cigarette to help me concentrate and to inspire me to do my work, but now I realize that it was all part of my addiction."
In 2004, when Mariano’s doctor told him that he needed emergency open heart surgery, he resolved to quit then and there and has been cigarette-free ever since. “Everything is different now—I feel like I have double or triple the energy. I bike and take long walks; food tastes better; my car and house smell clean and fresh; and I’ve saved thousands of dollars each year that I haven’t smoked. I’m no longer dependent on cigarettes, and I have a much better quality of life.” For more information about Mariano, refer to Mariano’s story.
Plenty of Reasons to Quit Today
Regaining your independence is not the only reason to quit smoking. Doing so can improve your health by:
- Lowering the risk for lung cancer and other types of cancer
- Reducing the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease
- Reducing respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
- Lowering the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the United States
- For women of reproductive age, reducing the risk for infertility
- For pregnant women, reducing one’s risk of having a low birth weight baby
When you quit, your health will improve, and that’s good news for you and your loved ones.
You're Not Alone: Resources Are Available to Help You Quit for Good
Different stop-smoking methods work for different people. The most important thing is to try, try, and try again until you succeed! You can find an effective way to quit. Some ways to quit have been found to increase the chances of success.
- Quitting "cold turkey": When an individual abruptly stops smoking and opts not to utilize any of the methods listed below. This is still the most common way people quit. You can succeed by quitting without help, but you may have more withdrawal challenges. If you do go "cold turkey," be sure to get rid of all your cigarettes, and if you are having trouble or want to increase your chances of success, don't hesitate to get help from the ways listed below.
- Brief clinical interventions: When a doctor or clinician takes 10 minutes or so to talk to smokers and gives advice about quitting
- Counseling: When a smoker participates in individual, group, or telephone counseling
- Treatments with more person-to-person contact and intensity: When smokers spend more time with counselors
- Nicotine replacement therapies: When smokers use over-the-counter or prescription nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum, inhalers, nasal sprays, lozenges, or patches
- Non-nicotine prescription medications: When smokers are prescribed non-nicotine medications such as bupropion SR or varenicline tartrate
- Combination treatment: When a smoker uses a combination of medication and counseling (which has been found to be more effective for smoking cessation than either medication or counseling alone)
Resources for Quitting
The following products, resources, and services are available to assist smokers in quitting.
- 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
- Tips From Former Smokers Web site
- Help for Smokers and Other Tobacco Users: Quit Smoking
- CDC's Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site
- How to Quit Resources
If there’s someone in your life who could benefit from gaining independence from smoking, check out CDC’s new Be Smoke-Free—You Matter to Me! Facebook app. You can use it to remind him or her of all the activities and major life events they might miss out on if they continue to smoke—and more importantly, all the things they can look forward to after quitting. You can send a heartfelt message to show how much you care and to encourage and motivate them to try to quit.
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