Smoking Cessation

Overview

There are many reasons to quit smoking, people who smoke or use other forms of tobacco are more likely to contract disease and die earlier than those who don’t.

If you do smoke you might be worried about what it means for your health. You may also worry about how difficult it is to stop smoking as nicotine is highly addictive and quitting – especially on your own – can be hard. Most people go through multiple attempts before successfully quitting smoking.  

How to Quit

Quitting can be very challenging and most people make multiple attempts at quitting before they succeed. Here are some strategies to help you with quitting.

Write a list with all of your reasons for quitting. Some suggestions include: lowering risk of disease, saving money, not exposing others to second-hand smoke, improving your health, or setting a good example for your children. You can keep this list with you and read it when you think about smoking or pick up a cigarette to remind yourself why you’re quitting.

One of the most effective things you can do to help you quit smoking is making a plan. If you select a date and abruptly stop on that date you are more likely to be successful. There are also a lot of online tools you can use to make a plan and quit.

Medical Strategies  

If you try multiple times to quit smoking without success you may want to ask your doctor about one of the following medical options.

Nicotine patches are small patches that self-adhere to the skin to slowly release a steady amount of nicotine into your system through the skin. You use it by applying a new patch each day on a patch of skin between your waist and neck.

Nicotine gum contains a very small portion of nicotine. It enters your body as it’s absorbed through your mouth lining when you use the gum as directed on the package. It is commonly used with the patch and other medications. When you initially start using the gum you can use one piece every hour or two up to 24 pieces a day.

Nicotine lozenges are tablets containing small amounts of nicotine that you place between your gumline and check and slowly suck until it dissolves. The nicotine enters your bloodstream when it gets absorbed through your mouth lining. Lozenges are often used in the same way as gum, in combination with other methods, and you can usually take up to 20 lozenges a day.

Nicotine inhalers are devices that give a small dose of nicotine. You use it by puffing on the inhaler releasing nicotine vapor, and holding it in your mouth and throat (do not inhale the vapor into your lungs) for a few seconds and blowing it out.

The nicotine nasal spray delivers a small dose of nicotine solution into your nostrils. The nicotine is absorbed through your nostril lining. You will usually use 1-2 sprays in each nostril once or twice an hour.

Medications

There are a few different medications your doctor may prescribe if you are still having trouble quitting. Buproprion is a medication classified as a kind of antidepressant though an extended-release version of buproprion is approved for smoking cessation. Buproprion doesn’t contain nicotine (unlike the above methods which are nicotine replacement therapy), it’s thought to lower tobacco cravings as well as symptoms of withdrawal by increasing the levels of particular brain chemicals. Since it takes 5-7 days for buproprion to achieve effective levels in your blood you should typically start by taking it 1-2 weeks before trying to stop smoking.

There is also Varenicline (also called Chantix) which is a prescription medication that helps to control withdrawal symptoms and reduce tobacco cravings. It also blocks the nicotine receptors in your brain which mutes the pleasurable effects of smoking. Your should start Chantix 1-2 weeks before you quit smoking as it takes several days for it to reach effective levels in your blood.