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Stop Smoking

Say goodbye to smoking and hello to a healthier you

Tobacco use is the main cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.

Most adult smokers want to quit, and each year almost half try to quit for good. It's important to remember that quitting will take time and effort — it would not be an addiction otherwise.

At SpeedyHealth, we provide prescription treatment for smoking cessation. This should only be taken with a doctor's advice. More information on how you can become smoke-free can be found below.

Dr. Adrian Rawlinson

Medically reviewed by Dr. Adrian Rawlinson

Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 05 December 2023

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Why is it so hard to stop smoking?

Nicotine is the main addictive substance in tobacco. By inhaling tobacco smoke, nicotine rapidly reaches high levels in your bloodstream and quickly enters the brain.

Nicotine has many effects on the body, it causes the release of adrenaline. This surge causes an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.

Nicotine also triggers the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine sends messages between the brain and our nerve cells. It plays an important role in our mood and how we experience pleasure. As nicotine continues to affect our brain, we get used to having it around.

When you stop smoking, the absence of nicotine irritates your brain and you may experience withdrawal symptoms. You might get anxious, upset, have difficulty concentrating or sleeping, or feel uncomfortable.

What are the health risks associated with smoking?

Cigarette smoke harms almost every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and causes a decline in the general health of smokers. The smoke from tobacco products contains over 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 of these can cause cancer.

The CDC reports that an estimated 28.3 million U.S. adults currently smoke cigarettes. Each year, almost half a million Americans die due to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Over 16 million Americans live with a serious illness caused by smoking.

Cardiovascular health risks

Smokers are at greater risk of developing heart diseases including strokes and coronary heart disease. These are among the leading causes of death in the US. Smoking is also responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths caused by heart disease.

Smoking can also:

  • damage and narrow blood vessels which increases your heart rate and blood pressure
  • increase the build-up of fat and cholesterol in blood vessels
  • make blood more likely to clot
  • directly damage blood vessels

Lung diseases

Smoking is responsible for approximately 90% of lung cancer deaths. It causes lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs found in your lungs. Other lung diseases caused by smoking include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia.

Smoking and cancer

Smoking also causes a variety of cancers, including:

  • Bladder
  • Blood
  • Cervix
  • Colon and rectum
  • Mouth and throat
  • Kidney and ureter
  • Larynx
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Lungs
Image showing the cancers caused by smoking

Pregnancy-specific health risks

Smoking can be harmful in pregnancy and can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. It can also impact sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase the risks of birth defects and miscarriage. Smoking increases risks of miscarriage, preterm delivery, stillbirth, and more.

What happens when you quit smoking?

Quitting has almost immediate health benefits, as your body begins to repair itself within 20 minutes of stopping.

This is what happens when you stop smoking:

black fish icon Talk to a quit smoking counselor individually or in a group.
black fish icon Get free confidential coaching through a telephone quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
black fish icon Use free online resources like CDC.gov/quit and Smokefree.gov.
black fish icon Sign up for free texting programs like SmokefreeTXT.
black fish icon Use a mobile app like quitSTART.

Long-term benefits of quitting smoking include adding years to your life, lowering your risk of death from lung cancer and many other diseases.

Financial benefits

When you quit, you will reduce your risk of smoking-related health conditions. This means you'll likely spend less on doctor visits, prescription medications, hospital stays, and health insurance premiums.

You will also save money that you would usually spend on cigarettes or other tobacco products.

Benefits to your relationships

Smoking can harm you and your loved ones. The main way smoking harms non-smokers is by inhaling secondhand smoke. This can stay in the air for several hours after you smoke.

Non-smokers who inhale this can develop harmful health effects such as:

  • lung cancer
  • heart disease and stroke
  • premature death
  • chest infections
  • breathing problems such as coughing‚ wheezing‚ and shortness of breath

When you quit, you will be protecting your loved ones and improving their health.

Impact on the quality of life

Quitting will enable you to spend additional time with family and friends, discover new hobbies, and increase your savings and investments. You will also improve your hygiene and both your mental and physical health.

How can I prepare to stop smoking?

Set a quit date

The first step is to choose when you want to quit. Pick a date within the following week or two. This will give you time to mentally prepare and come up with a strategy for success.

Identify and manage your triggers

Triggers are specific things that make you want to smoke. Knowing your smoking triggers can help you learn how to deal with them.

Triggers What you can do:

Emotional triggers

Many people smoke when they feel strong emotions such as being stressed, anxious, excited, sad, happy, or lonely.

  • Speak about your emotions with a friend, family member, or counselor.
  • Listen to relaxing music. This helps to slow your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones.
  • Exercise - Your brain will release endorphins that make you feel good.
  • When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for ten seconds and release it slowly. Repeat this as necessary.

Activity triggers

These are activities that you associate with smoking, such as:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Driving
  • Finishing a meal
  • Drinking coffee
  • Taking a work break

To manage activity triggers, you can try changing your routine. For example, limit coffee, and brush your teeth right after you eat a meal. Remove anything that reminds you of smoking, for example, throwing away all your ashtrays and lighters.

Social triggers

These are events that usually include other people who smoke. For example:

  • visiting bars
  • going to parties or other social occasions
  • seeing someone else smoke e.g. friends or colleagues

To deal with social triggers avoid places, people, and situations you associate with smoking. Ask your friends not to smoke around you and spend time with non-smokers or visit places that don't allow smoking (like movies, museums, or shops).

Tell your family and friends

Quitting smoking is easier with the support of family and friends. Tell them about your decision to quit and explain that they can help by checking in on you or doing smoke-free activities together.

What are the different methods to stop smoking?

Cold turkey

In rare circumstances, you can quit smoking on the spot. However, the majority of smokers stand a greater chance of quitting with additional support and a quit smoking plan, you can build yours here. It is important that you are fully prepared and committed to quit.

Counseling and behavior therapy

You can start counseling while you get ready to quit smoking and continue counseling for support to stay smoke-free. There may be in-person or online support groups. Results from studies suggest that behavioral support (either delivered to an individual or a group) is effective in increasing quit rates.

Hypnosis and acupuncture

More evidence is needed to support the use of methods such as hypnosis and acupuncture for smoking cessation. Evidence suggests that acupuncture alone may not be enough to stay smoke-free and further clinical trials are needed.

Rx medicines

Bupropion and Varenicline are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help you quit smoking. They are both safe and effective for adults who smoke cigarettes.

Bupropion SR (Zyban)

Bupropion SR is a prescription-only medicine that works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. Bupropion SR is available as a 150mg tablet. The treatment is usually started while you are still smoking and have set a ‘target quit date’ within the first two weeks of treatment.

Varenicline (Chantix)

Chantix blocks the effects of nicotine in the brain, which removes the rewarding and reinforcing effects of cigarette smoke.

This medication comes in two strengths: 0.5mg (a white tablet) and 1mg (a blue tablet).

There are different ways that people commonly use this medication. Your doctor can provide detailed dosing instructions for you if this is a suitable treatment option.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

Some forms of NRT are available over the counter without a prescription. NRT provides a low level of nicotine without the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. This helps to relieve cravings and manage withdrawal effects. NRT medicines come in various forms including patches, lozenges, gum, oral inhaler, and nasal spray.

The correct NRT dose for you depends on the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day, whether you smoke within the first hour of waking, and your preferences. Usually, using a combination of two forms of NRT (e.g. nicotine gum and patches) is more effective than using just one.

What lifestyle changes can help me quit smoking?


Exercise can distract you from cravings and it has many other benefits. Short periods of physical activity reduce the urge to smoke and decrease withdrawal symptoms. Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, helps manage stress, increases energy, and improves mood.


After you quit smoking, your senses of taste and smell return to normal. This makes meals more enjoyable which can result in an increase in your appetite. To avoid gaining weight after you quit, eat mindfully and snack on healthy foods such as carrots and celery. You can also eat mindfully by eating slower and taking the time to enjoy your food.

Managing stress

Stress is a normal part of life. Most people smoke when they feel stressed so managing stress is a key part of quitting smoking. Some stress management techniques include:

  • taking slow, deep breaths
  • talk about your feelings with friends and family
  • self-care
  • meditation

Apps and support

It is difficult to quit smoking on your own, so there are many options that may improve your chances of success. Check them out below:

Graphic showing support available for quitting smoking

What are some tips to deal with cravings and withdrawal?

Recognize and manage cravings

  • Many people experience cravings after they quit smoking. Some ways to manage these are by:
  • Chewing gum, eating sugar-free candy, or drinking water when you feel the urge to smoke.
  • Keeping your hands busy, instead of holding a cigarette consider doodling or squeezing a stress ball.
  • Moving your body as this can help boost your energy and beat a craving.

Managing withdrawal symptoms

When you stop smoking‚ your body needs to get used to not having nicotine around anymore. The lack of nicotine can cause withdrawal symptoms which can be uncomfortable.

Symptoms are usually strongest in the first few days or weeks after quitting smoking and decrease over time. These symptoms may include:

  • craving a cigarette
  • feeling restless
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • headaches
  • mood changes (feeling irritable, anxious, or depressed)
  • weight gain
Graphic showing withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking

Some methods to manage withdrawal symptoms may be:

  • keeping healthy snacks handy
  • exercising
  • limiting caffeine, alcohol, and big meals close to bedtime
  • participating in hobbies

How can I deal with relapses?

Relapsing can happen and is not a sign of failure. Many people attempt quitting often before they quit smoking for good. Use this as something to learn from and remind yourself that this is a minor bump on the road. Think about what caused the relapse and how to avoid this going forward.

What treatments are available at SpeedyHealth?

Speedy Health offers clinically proven prescription medications to help you quit smoking.

All you have to do is complete one of our online consultation forms. It’s quick to do and is part of the requirements to get your chosen smoking cessation medication. After you complete the form, our doctors will assess it to see if the treatment is safe for you.

If approved, our pharmacy will dispatch your treatment with your selected delivery method.

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