Why is smoking bad?

Smoking increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and emphysema. Smoking also increases your risk for a number of cancers, including:

  • Lung
  • Oral
  • Nasal and Paranasal
  • Throat
  • Esophageal
  • Bladder
  • Kidney
  • Pancreatic
  • Ovarian
  • Cervical
  • Colorectal
  • Stomach

If you already have a cancer diagnosis, smoking can increase your risk of recurrence.

Why should I quit?

Quitting smoking has almost immediate benefits. Here are some of the benefits of quitting smoking:

Time Since Quitting


20 minutes Blood pressure and heart rate drop
12 hours CO2 levels in blood stream return to normal*
3 months – 9 months Circulation and lung function improve
1 year Risk of heart disease cut in half
5 years Risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, and bladder cancer cut in half
10 years One-half as likely to die from lung cancer, and risk of laryngeal and pancreatic cancer decreases
15 years Risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s

Source: smokefree.gov

*If the CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in your bloodstream are high, your lungs have to work harder to return these levels to normal. When you exhale, CO2 leaves your body.

How can I quit?

The first step is to talk to your healthcare team about the best quitting strategies for you.

With smoking, your body builds up a dependency on nicotine, a chemical found in tobacco. As you quit smoking, your body will go through withdrawals from nicotine. Some common symptoms and side effects of withdrawal include:

  • Cravings
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Weight gain

Here are some tips to help you manage the side effects of withdrawal:

You may wish to use nicotine replacement therapies (NRT).

  • NRTs give you a small, decreasing dose of nicotine without smoking to help you wean yourself off nicotine and minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  • NRTs come in many forms such as gum, lozenges, inhalers, and patches.
  • Some NRTs are available without a prescription, but always talk to your healthcare team first.

Tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit.

  • They can support you and hold you accountable.
  • Ask a friend or family member you trust to be your “sponsor.” If you feel the urge to smoke, you can call them to talk until the craving passes.
  • If your friends or family members smoke, ask them not to smoke around you and not to offer you cigarettes. This will only make achieving your goal harder.
  • Join a support group or online support group to connect with other people trying to quit.

Change your routine.

  • For example, if you always have a cigarette with your coffee, find a new morning routine. Try watching the news with your coffee, or replace your cigarette with a healthy snack.

Know your triggers and have a plan.

  • What triggers your cravings—stress, food, other people smoking?
  • Avoid triggers if at all possible.
  • If you encounter a trigger, have a plan to keep yourself from smoking such as chewing gum, counting to 10, or calling a friend.

If you have a setback, don’t be too hard on yourself.

  • Get back on track as soon as possible.
  • However, do not use a slip as an excuse to start smoking regularly again.

Do not use other tobacco products or e-cigarettes as a replacement for smoking.

  • Other tobacco products can also increase your risk for cancer and diseases.
  • E-cigarettes have not been studied enough to know their safety. The chemicals inhaled with e-cigarette use may have their own risks.

Resources for Quitting:


American Cancer Society

Call 1-800-Quit-Now to connect with your state’s helpline.