Breathe Easy Guide: When You Quit Commercial Tobacco

In this section:

On Your Quit Date

Group support Congratulations! Remember, the first few weeks are the hardest. But, with each day, it gets easier and easier. Try to be good to yourself and ask for support from those around you.

Read over your list of reasons for quitting. Look at the picture of a loved one to support those reasons.

Take your quit tobacco medicine(s). Remember that taking medications correctly can double or triple your chance for success!

Look over your triggers and the 3A strategies to help you develop a plan for when times get tough. They will help you through.

Think of the friends and family who have agreed to support you. When you are having a hard time, reach out and ask for help.

What to Expect When You Quit

Withdrawal Symptoms

You are giving up an addiction to nicotine. This affects your body and your mind. Everyone is different and each person can have a different experience. Most people have some withdrawal symptoms in the beginning. They tend to be the most uncomfortable within the first few days. Medications can really help ease these symptoms.

Ways to Help Your Withdrawal Symptoms:

Feeling irritable or nervous
Take several deep breaths, exercise, go for a walk, take a bath, do a fun activity, picture in your mind a relaxing event or place.

Feeling tired
Take it easy, take a nap, go to bed early.

Trouble sleeping
Avoid caffeine, drink warm decaffeinated tea, take a warm bath, read a book instead of watching TV.

Cough, dry throat
Drink plenty of liquids, use cough drops, mints, or chew gum.

Use caution when driving or operating machinery, remember this will pass.

Trouble concentrating
Be patient with yourself, avoid hard tasks, take deep breaths.

Wanting to put something in your mouth
Cut drinking straws or vegetables into cigarette length pieces.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit, whole grains and drink plenty of fluids.

Depression, feeling blue, down
Remind yourself that this is a withdrawal symptom, find a fun activity, exercise, get rest.

Take a pain reliever, drink plenty of water, remind yourself that this will pass.

Increased appetite
Tobacco use impacts your metabolism so eat nutritious foods, drink water, exercise, eat small low-fat meals and snacks.

Sleep disturbance
If using the patch or other nicotine replacement medications, talk with your doctor about stopping use one hour before bed, try a warm bath before bed, or use deep breathing and other relaxation exercises.
These withdrawal symptoms are common. It is important to plan for these feelings and for ways to help you deal with them.

In addition to withdrawal symptoms, most people experience cravings. A craving is a strong desire or urge to smoke a cigarette. Most cravings last only ten minutes or less and will pass whether you smoke or not. Cravings lessen over time. It’s important to expect that you will have cravings, especially during the first weeks.

Try the following tips to help you deal with cravings:

Nicotine gum or lozenges give fast relief.

Take 10 deep breaths.

Pretend to smoke with a plastic straw.

Exercise, go hiking, or walk the dog.

Try yoga, stretch, or use other relaxation techniques.

Have a mint, gum, popsicle, or sugar-free candy.

Drink water or low-calorie juice.

What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Commercial Tobacco?

At 20 minutes after quitting:

  • Blood pressure decreases.
  • Pulse rate drops.
  • Body temperature of hands and feet increases.

At 8 hours:

  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal (if no
    lung disease).

At 24 hours:

  • Chance of a heart attack decreases.

At 48 hours:

  • Nerve endings start regrowing.
  • Sense of smell and sense of taste improve.

At 2 weeks to 3 months:

  • Circulation improves.
  • Walking becomes easier.
  • Lung function improves.

At 1 to 9 months:

  • Coughing, sinus congestion, tiredness, shortness of breath decrease.

At 1 year:

  • Excess risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker.

At 5 years:

  • From five to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who never smoked.

At 10 years:

  • Risk of cancer drops to as little as one-half that of continuing smokers.
  • Risk of ulcer decreases.

At 15 years:

  • Risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked.
  • Risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked.

NEXT: Breathe Easy Guide: Staying Tobacco Free