Tips to Kick the Smoking Habit

Half a million people die each year from smoking-related illnesses – but these deaths are preventable. Learn how to kick the addiction and take control of your health.

Shawn says he was so addicted to cigarettes that he kept smoking after he was diagnosed with cancer. He smoked through radiation treatments as well. “It wasn’t until they took out my voice box and I breathed through a hole in my neck that I finally quit.”

Today Shawn works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Tips from Former Smokers Campaign, helping others quit smoking. Terry has been smoking since she was 13 – now she’s 60 and she wants to give up the habit. “My brother and one of my sisters died from complications of diabetes, which were made worse by smoking,” she says. “My other sister had two open-heart surgeries, and she still smokes.” Terry’s daughter just got married, and she hopes to see her grandchildren someday.

Shawn explains the Tips from Former Smokers Campaign. “The campaign gives a voice to 16 million people dealing with smoking-related diseases. The ads show the real impact smoking can have on smokers and their families and the people around them.”

Terry says she has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bad circulation, a chronic cough – and she doesn’t like the way her skin’s aging. She tried to quit in the ‘70s, and then again about seven years ago. “But today, I put out my last cigarette!” she vows.

“The health issues that you mentioned – they’re all improved by quitting smoking,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork tells her. “And there are specific risks that woman smokers face. You mentioned your sister’s health issues – heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for women, and smoking is such a risk factor for heart disease.”

“For Terry, and everyone else out there,” adds Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon, “the sooner you stop, the better!” In the first smoke-free month, Terry can expect her circulation and her cough to improve.

It’s not just smokers at risk – more than 40 percent of the children who visit emergency rooms for asthma live with smokers while breathing secondhand smoke can increase chances of developing lung cancer by up to 20 to 30 percent.

Looking to quit? These tips may help:

• Have a plan in place for when you feel tempted to smoke.

• Ask your doctor about nicotine-replacement therapy, like gum or patches.

• Short bursts of physical activity can help beat the craving to smoke.

• Find a distraction.

• When you feel a craving, wait 10 minutes for it to pass.

• Try chewing sugarless gum or cinnamon sticks.

• When you quit – quit! Don’t have “just one more.”

• But if you slip up, keep going. Don’t throw away your progress because of one mistake.

• Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit for help and reinforcement.

Sponsored by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention