Stop Smoking

Ongoing Benefits of Quitting 

20 Minutes after Quitting
Your blood pressure will drop to a level close to what it was before you had your last cigarette
• Temperature of your feet and hands increases to a normal level

30 Minutes after Quitting
Your taste buds come back to life
Your sense of smell improves

2 to 12 Weeks after Quitting
• Circulation improves
Your lung function increases by 30%
Instances of colds, flu and missed work should decrease

1 to 9 Months after Quitting
• Shortness of breath and coughing decrease
Sinus congestion decreases 
You have more energy and stamina
Cilia regain normal function in your lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce infection
Your appearance improves - you’ll have whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles

1 Year after Quitting
Risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker

5 Years after Quitting
Risk of stroke is greatly reduced (typically to the risk level of someone who has been nonsmoking 5 to 15 years

10 to15 Years after Quitting
• Risk of coronary heart disease matches that of a nonsmoker

Quitting Tips
Many smokers have successfully given up cigarettes without quitting “cold Turkey,” but rather by replacing smoking with new behaviors, planning a special program, or seeking professional help. Successful methods are as different as the people who use them. Pick the ideas that you think will work best for you. Most importantly, remember that success depends on follow-through.

Getting Ready to Stop Smoking
• Decide positively and list all the reasons why you want to quit.
Begin physical conditioning through modest exercise, drinking more fluids, and getting plenty of rest.
• Set a target date for quitting and keep your date.
• Understand that withdrawal symptoms usually last only from 1 to 2 weeks.
• Most relapses occur in the first week. Use all your resources to make it through this critical period.
• Involve your friends and family. Tell them you are quitting and ask for their help, encouragement and understanding.

Methods for Quitting
• Switch to a low tar and nicotine brand a few weeks before your target date.
• Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke.  At seven cigarettes a day, it’s time to set your target date.                  
• Make smoking inconvenient. Don’t carry cigarettes with you at home or at work.

On the Day You Quit
• Throw away cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays.
• Keep busy on the big day.
• Ask family and friends to help you through the rough spots for the first couple of days and weeks.

Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms
Quitting smoking is not easy, but can be done. Nicotine is a powerful, addictive stimulant. When you quit, you are likely to experience any of the following side effects. It helps to memorize and practice the 4 Ds:                                                                  

Deep Breathe

Delay: Wait for the urge to pass.                                                   

Drink Plenty of Water: This helps clear the body of toxins.

Distract Yourself with other activities.

Also, ....

• Remind yourself of the reasons you are quitting. 

• Brush your teeth to keep your mouth tasting clean.

• Think of your most important reason for wanting to stop smoking. Say it out loud.

• Do something with your hands.

• Indulge yourself with the money you’re saving.

Withdrawal symptoms you might experience include ...
Cough, dry throat or nasal drip may last 2 to 3 days. The body is getting rid of mucus and repairing itself.

• Drink plenty of fluids (avoid caffeine)

• Try cough drops or hard candy

Depression: Your body is experiencing neurochemical withdrawal from an addictive stimulant.  You may also have underlying depression that you have been medicating with nicotine. 

• Increase your physical activity

• If depression persists, talk with your doctor

Dizziness may last 1 to 2 days and is the result of your brain receiving more oxygen.

• Take extra caution

• Change positions slowly

Difficulty sleeping may last about 2 weeks. Your brain wave functions change when you withdraw from a stimulant. • Avoid caffeine after 6:00 PM • Take a warm bath or shower just before going to bed

Fatigue may last 2 to 4 weeks.

• Allow for extra sleep time

• Eat healthy, nutritious foods

• Take a walk or some other moderate exercise

• Nap during the day when possible

Gas or constipation might occur and could last 1 to 2 weeks, if at all. Again, in the absence of nicotine’s stimulant qualities, intestinal movement can decrease for a brief period.

• Drink 8 glasses of water every day

• Include fiber in your diet - raw fruits, vegetables and whole grains

• Exercise more if possible

• Ask your doctor about medications that may help

Headaches can occur because there is more oxygen in your system and less carbon monoxide. If you experience headaches they could last 1 to 2 weeks.

• Practice relaxation techniques and/or meditation

• Drink water - 6 to 8 glasses a day

• Take a warm bath or shower

• Use cold compresses on your forehead

Increased appetite may last 1 to 3 weeks.

• Eat smart snacks (fruit, vegetables, popcorn)

• Drink water or low calorie liquids

• Chew gum

Irritability can result from your body being deprived of nicotine. Irritability typically lasts only 2 to 4 weeks.

• Increase your physical activity

• Practice relaxation techniques and/or meditation

Lack of concentration can last a few weeks. Your body needs time to adjust to the lack of stimulation from nicotine.

• Plan workload to avoid stress

• Avoid additional stress during the first few weeks

• Take a walk outside

• Take a break

• Remind yourself that this will pass in a few days I

Immediately After Quitting
• Develop a clean, fresh, nonsmoking environment at work and at home.

• Spend time in smoke-free places.

• Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice.

• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other drinks you may associate with smoking.

• Keep oral substitutes handy.

• Avoid temptations and situations you associate with smoking.

• Find new habits such as exercise, knitting, gardening, etc.

Material provided is based on information from The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and other sources. It is intended to provide general educational information. This material is not specific medical advice and should not be used to make a diagnosis or to replace or overrule a qualified health care provider's judgment. We strongly encourage readers to consult with a qualified health care professional for answers to personal questions.

A Non-Smoking Hospital
There is increasing awareness about many health issues related to smoking as well as environmental tobacco smoke.  Newton-Wellesley Hospital is concerned and committed to providing a smoke-free facility for our patients, employees and visitors.

We realize that for many people smoking is an addictive behavior.  We are prepared to offer you ways to decrease nicotine withdrawal symptoms.  Ask your physician about nicotine replacement products such as the patch, gum or inhaler.

If you are ready, we also want to help you to stop smoking. This brochure provides information that can help you get started and find support through various community programs.

Thank you for not smoking.

Community Resources
The American Heart Association
offers materials to help adults stop smoking. To receive their information, call 1-800-242-8721 or contact them on-line at

The X-Pack, designed for 18 to 24 year olds, is available at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Gift Shop, or by calling (503) 294-0554.

For classes through Newton-Wellesley Hospital’s Wellness Center, call CareFinder at (617) 243-6566 or toll free at (866) 694-3627.

“Quitworks” is offered by The Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This program helps you connect with treatment sources, telephone counseling, educational materials and a website. Call 1-800-TRY-TO-STOP (1-800-879-8678) or on-line at

“Freedom from Smoking”, on-line at, is offered by The Massachusetts Lung Association.

The Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners HealthCare Quit Smoking Service can be reached at (617) 726-7443, or online at

The American Cancer Society can be reached at 1-800-227-2345 or on-line at

Newton-Wellesley Hospital has written a variety of different health articles about diabetes and numerous other subjects. These materials are intended to provide general educational information and to help users arrange more easily for health care services. 

These articles are not an attempt to practice medicine or provide specific medical advice and should not be used to make a diagnosis or to replace or overrule a qualified health care provider's judgment. Nor should users rely upon this information if they need emergency medical treatment. We strongly encourage users to consult with a qualified health care professional for answers to personal questions.



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