About This Condition
While cigarette smoking is declining in many Western countries, more than 20% of US adults continue to smoke.1 However, studies show that 70% of them would like to quit.2,3 In many countries, major public health efforts are in place to encourage smokers to quit.4,5 Since many attempts to quit smoking are not permanent, it may be important to take advantage of a variety of strategies to increase the chances of success.6,7
Smoking cessation can result in improved health, including reduced risk of heart and lung diseases, many cancers, pregnancy complications, and other health problems. Soon after quitting, most smokers notice that coughing declines and that ordinary activities no longer result in shortness of breath. Also, smokers find that their teeth stain less easily, their breath is fresher, and food tastes better as their senses of taste and smell return to normal. However, smoking cessation can lead to short-term symptoms such as irritability, depression, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, headaches, and fatigue, due to the physical effects of nicotine withdrawal and the psychological effects of giving up a habit. Quitting smoking often leads to weight gain as well.
Individuals who want to quit smoking cigarettes will have better success if they decide on a quit date and change their routines around typical smoking cues, such as coffee breaks, meals, boredom, and sexual activity. Absolute stopping, known as quitting “cold turkey,” is generally considered a better method than weaning off.