Health A to Z

Smoking cessation

Quitting isn't easy, but it's the best thing you can do for your health. Here's what to expect when you butt out.

Smoking cessation benefits treatments side effects

Quitting smoking can be challenging but it remains one of the best things a person can do for their health. Quitting usually involves five stages: not thinking about quitting; thinking about quitting but not ready to do it yet; getting ready to quit; and quitting and remaining a non-smoker. Counselling and medications can help with quitting.

Side effects The nicotine in cigarettes activates a brain chemical that regulates feelings of pleasure, making the habit highly addictive. When a person first stops smoking, she experiences nicotine withdrawal, which can cause irritability, anger, frustration and anxiety. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and an increased appetite, are also symptoms of withdrawal. Most people stop experiencing withdrawal symptoms one week to 10 days after their last cigarette. Nicotine patches, nicotine gum and the antidepressant Bupropian all help minimize withdrawal symptoms and can improve a person’s odds of successfully quitting and being a non-smoker.

Benefits As soon as a person stops smoking, her body starts ridding itself of tobacco toxins. Within two days of quitting, the risk of having a heart attack decreases. Over time, quitting smoking results in better lung function and lowers the risk of lung cancer and heart disease.

Outside resources
Quit 4 Life
Health Canada
The Lung Association 

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