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Quitting Smoking



Overview

Tobacco use can lead to tobacco/nicotine dependence and serious health problems. Quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of developing smoking-related diseases.

Tobacco/nicotine dependence is a condition that often requires repeated treatments, but effective treatments and helpful resources exist. Smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers.1

Nicotine Dependence

  • Nicotine is the drug in tobacco products that produces dependence.2,3,4,5 Most smokers are dependent on nicotine.2,3
  • Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.6 Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.1,3,5
  • Quitting smoking is difficult and may require several attempts.3,4 Users often return to smoking because of withdrawal symptoms, stress, and weight gain.2,3,4
  • Nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, cravings for a cigarette, and increased appetite.2,3

Health Benefits of Quitting

Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic, and about 70 can cause cancer.1,3,7 Tobacco smoking increases the risk for serious health problems, numerous diseases, and death.1,3

People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and premature death. Although the health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, quitting is beneficial at all ages.1,3,8,9

Stopping smoking is associated with the following health benefits:1,3,8,9

  • Lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer.
  • Reduced risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
  • Reduced coronary heart disease risk within 1 to 2 years of quitting.
  • Reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The rate of decline in lung function is slower among people who quit smoking than among those who continue to smoke.
  • Reduced risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Reduced risk for infertility in women of reproductive age. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

Smokers' Attempts to Quit

Among current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, 68.8% report that they want to quit completely.10 Starting in 2002, the number of former smokers has exceeded the number of current smokers.10

Percentage of adult daily cigarette smokers who stopped smoking for more than 1 day in 2010 because they were trying to quit:


  • 42.7% of all adult smokers10
  • 48.5% of smokers aged 18–24 years10                   
  • 46.8% of smokers aged 25–44 years10                   
  • 38.8% of smokers aged 45–64 years10                   
  • 34.6% of smokers aged 65 years or older10            

Percentage of high school cigarette smokers who ever tried to stop smoking in the past 12 months:


  • 48.0% of all high school students who smoke11

Methods to Quit Smoking

The majority of cigarette smokers quit without using evidence-based treatments.10 However, the following treatments are proven to be effective for smokers who want help to quit:

  • Brief clinical interventions (i.e., when a doctor takes 10 minutes or less to deliver advice and assistance about quitting)2
  • Individual, group, or telephone counseling2
  • Behavioral therapies (e.g., training in problem solving)2
  • Treatments with more person-to-person contact and intensity (e.g., more or longer counseling sessions)2
  • Programs to deliver treatments using mobile phones12

Medications for quitting that have been found to be effective include the following:

  • Nicotine replacement products2
    • Over-the-counter (nicotine patch [which is also available by prescription], gum, lozenge)
    • Prescription (nicotine patch, inhaler, nasal spray)
  • Prescription non-nicotine medications: bupropion SR (Zyban®)2, varenicline tartrate (Chantix®).2,13

Counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence, and using them together is more effective than using either one alone.2

Helpful Resources


Quitline Services

1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) is a free telephone support service that can help individuals who want to stop smoking or using tobacco. Callers are routed to their state quitlines, where they have access to several types of quit information and services, including:

  • Free support, advice, and counseling from experienced quitline coaches
  • A personalized quit plan
  • Practical information on how to quit, including coping strategies
  • The latest information about medications
  • Free or discounted medications (available for at least some callers in most U.S. states)
  • Referrals to other resources
  • Mailed self-help materials

For information on quitting, go to the Quit Smoking Resources page on CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.


Publications

Visit CDC's Online Publications Catalog to order free copies of materials about quitting as well as other helpful resources pertaining to tobacco control and prevention.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  2. Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, Bailey WC, Benowitz NL, Curry SJ, Dorfman SF, Froelicher ES, Goldstein MG, Froelicher ES, Healton CG, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update—Clinical Practice Guidelines. Rockville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2008 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing Tobacco Use: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2000 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Research Report Series: Tobacco Addiction. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2009 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  6. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Public Policy Statement on Nicotine Dependence and Tobacco. Chevy Chase (MD): American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2010 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  7. National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition. Research Triangle Park (NC): U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Toxicology Program, 2011 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1990 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quitting Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2001–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2011;60(44):1513–19 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [serial online] 2014;63(SS–4):1–168 [accessed 2014 June 13].
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Community Guide Community Preventive Services: Reducing Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure [page last updated 2014 Jan 30; accessed 2014 June 13].
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration The FDA Approves Novel Medication for Smoking Cessation. FDA Consumer, 2006 [cited 2014 June 13].

For Further Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health
E-mail: tobaccoinfo@cdc.gov
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO

Media Inquiries: Contact CDC's Office on Smoking and Health press line at 770-488-5493.

 

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