Quit Guide

Welcome to the Quit Guide

From those of us at Smokefree Women…Congratulations! You are taking the first step toward a healthier, new lifestyle.

We wrote this Quit Guide with the help of ex-smokers and experts. It can help you decide to quit, prepare to quit, and support you in the days and weeks after you quit so that you can stay quit. It also describes problems to expect when you quit smoking.

Being prepared and staying focused on your goal can help you get through the hard times.

Where are you in your quit journey?

Download or order a free print copy of the Quit Guide, called Clearing the Air Exit _disclaimer.

Go mobile! Download the free mobile version of the Quit Guide today.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Quitting smoking is a big decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about whether or not you're ready to quit smoking:

Female standing at two way road
  1. Not sure you want to quit?

    It's okay to have mixed feelings. Many people who quit smoking do. Don't let that stop you. There will be times every day that you don't feel like quitting. Stick with it anyway! We promise that it's worth it.

  2. Do you know what's in a cigarette?

    Knowing what's in a cigarette and the effects it has on your body is a great way to take control of your quit attempt.

  3. Why do you want to quit smoking?

    Find reasons to quit that are important to you. Write down all the reasons why you want to quit.Think of more than just health reasons. Keep your list where you'll see if often—like where you keep your cigarettes, in your wallet or purse, in the kitchen, or in the car. It will remind you why you want to stop smoking.

  4. Why is quitting so hard?

    Smoking has been a big part of your life. It takes time to break free from nicotine addiction and the patterns of smoking. It may take more than one try to quit for good.

Millions of people have quit smoking for good. You can be one of them! Smokefree Women has information to help you answer these questions and tools to help you to stay smokefree when you're ready to start your quit journey.

What's in a Cigarette?

You know that cigarettes are bad for you. But do you really know why?

Confused Female

Did you know?

  • Your body gets more than nicotine when you smoke.

  • There are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke.
    Some of them are also in wood varnish, the insect poison DDT, arsenic, nail polish remover, and rat poison.

  • The ashes, tar, gases, and other poisons in cigarettes harm your body over time.
    They damage your heart and lungs. They also make it harder for you to taste and smell things and fight infections.

Knowing what's in a cigarette and the effects it has on your body is a great way to take control of your quit attempt.

20 Reasons Why Many Women Quit Smoking

Not sure if you're ready to quit smoking? Here are 20 reasons why many people quit smoking that might work for you, too.

Women Celebrating
  1. I will feel healthier.

  2. I will have more energy and better focus.

  3. My senses of smell and taste will be better.

  4. I will have whiter teeth and fresher breath.

  5. I will smell better.

  6. I will cough less and breathe easier.

  7. I will be healthier the rest of my life.

  8. I will lower my risk for cancer, heart attacks, strokes, early death, cataracts, and skin wrinkling.

  9. My children will be healthier

  10. I will make others proud of me.

  11. My partner, friends, family, kids, grandchildren, and coworkers will be glad I quit smoking.

  12. I will be proud of myself.

  13. My clothes won't smell like smoke.

  14. I will feel more in control of my life.

  15. I will be a better role model for my children.

  16. I won't have to worry.

  17. I won't be asking myself: "When will I get to smoke next?"

  18. I will have more money to spend.

  19. I will be able to travel more.

  20. I will be able to exercise more.

Many women agree that the benefits of quitting are far better than the discomforts! Try writing down all the reasons why you want to quit. Keep it where you'll see it often so it will help remind you why you want to be smokefree.

What are the Dangers of Secondhand Smoke?

Female covering face with hands

Quitting smoking is a personal decision. But your decision to keep smoking affects everyone around you. Even a little secondhand smoke is dangerous.

Here are four things you may not know about secondhand smoke:
  • Secondhand smoke can cause cancer in nonsmokers.

  • Secondhand smoke causes breathing problems and lung disease.

  • Secondhand smoke cause heart disease and can trigger heart attacks.

  • People who breathe secondhand smoke get colds and the flu more easily.

There are even more risks to infants and children who breathe secondhand smoke. They are more likely to:
  • Be cranky, restless, and get sick more often

  • Have breathing problems such as asthma

  • Get more ear infections

  • Get more lung infections like pneumonia

  • Have learning problems

  • Die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Learn how you can protect your family and friends from secondhand smoke.

3 Reasons Why Quitting is so Hard

Number three

Quitting smoking isn't easy. Many ex-smokers say quitting was the hardest thing they ever did. So why is it so hard? Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Nicotine is a hard addiction to break
    If you feel like you're hooked on smoking, you're probably addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is in all tobacco products. It's what makes you feel satisfied when you smoke. Nicotine can also make you feel more alert and focused. The more you smoke, the more nicotine you need to feel “normal.” Soon, you don't feel normal without nicotine.

    It takes time to break free from nicotine addiction. And it may take more than one try to quit for good. So don't give up!

  2. Smoking is a big part of your life
    Nicotine addiction makes it hard to quit, but quitting is also hard because smoking is a big part of your life. You enjoy holding cigarettes. You enjoy smoking them. You might smoke when you are stressed, bored, or angry. After months or years of lighting up, smoking has become part of your daily routine. You might light up without even thinking about it.

    Smoking also goes with other things you do or like, such as drinking coffee, wine, or beer; talking on the phone; driving; and being with other smokers.

  3. Triggers are all around
    You might even feel uncomfortable not smoking at times or in places where you usually have a cigarette. These times and places are called "triggers." That's because they trigger, or turn on, your cravings for cigarettes.

    Breaking these patterns is the hardest part of quitting for some smokers. Learn more about your triggers and tips to live without smoking.

Quitting smoking may take several tries. But you learn something each time you try. Remember that millions of people have quit smoking for good. You can be one of them!

Preparing to Quit? Start by Taking These 5 Steps

Woman with pen considering a thought

Maybe you’ve decided to quit and you’re nervous. Maybe just thinking about quitting makes you anxious. Either way, quitting works best when you’re prepared. So before you quit, START by taking these 5 important steps:

S = Set a quit date.

T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.

A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.

R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.

T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Ready to Set a Quit Date?

Congratulations on taking the first step toward a healthier, new lifestyle! Pick a date within the next two weeks to quit. That will give you enough time to get ready. But it's not so long that you will lose your drive to quit.

Calendar January Quit Smoking

Think about choosing a special day like:

  • Your birthday or wedding anniversary

  • New Year's Day

  • Independence Day (July 4)

  • World No Tobacco Day (May 31)

  • The Great American Smokeout (the third Thursday of each November)

Here's a tip: If you smoke at work, quit on the weekend or during a day off. That way, you'll already be cigarette-free when you return.

Preparing to Quit? Tell People!

You might feel like you want to keep your quit attempt to yourself, but quitting smoking can be easier with the support of others. So tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit. Tell them how they can help you.

Female yelling

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask for understanding
    Ask everyone to be understanding of your change in mood. Remind them that this won't last long (the worst will be over within a few weeks). Tell them that the longer you go without cigarettes, the sooner you'll be your old self—just without the cigarettes!

  • Find a quit buddy
    Ask a friend or family member who smokes to quit with you, or at least not to smoke around you.

  • Talk to your doctor
    Tell your doctor and pharmacist you are quitting. Nicotine changes how some drugs work. You may need to change your prescriptions after you quit.

  • Get support
    Try talking with other women who quit. You can also get support on your phone. You can even try an Internet chat room. This kind of support helps smokers quit. The more support you get, the better. But even a little can help.

Everyone is different. Some people like to have friends ask how things are going. Others don't want people to be in their business—they find it nosy. Let the people you care about exactly how they can help you quit smoking.

3 Ways to Anticipate & Plan for Challenges You'll Face When You Quit

Most people who go back to smoking do it within three months. Why? Because the first three months after you quit are hard. Anticipating and planning ahead will make it easier for you to stay smokefree.

List of plans for quitting

Start by doing the following:

  1. Know your triggers
    Certain people, places, things, or situations can make you want to smoke. Knowing what triggers you will help you avoid the temptation.

  2. Prepare for cravings
    Cravings only last a few minutes, so come up with a list of quick and easy 10-minute distractions you could do instead of smoking when a craving hits.

  3. Plan for withdrawal
    Withdrawal is your body adjusting to not having nicotine; not everyone has symptoms of withdrawal, but if you do, it helps to know what's happening.

Keeping a Craving Journal (PDF) can help you figure out when you want to smoke the most. See when you are tempted to smoke and come up with a plan for how to deal with the urge to smoke before it hits.

Remove Cigarettes & Reminders of Smoking

throwing away trash - cigarette butts If cigarettes are a big part of your life, there are probably lots of things that remind you of smoking. Getting rid of all the things that remind you of smoking is an important step when you’re preparing to quit.

Here are some things to try:

  • Clean Make things clean and fresh at work, in your car, and at home. Clean your drapes and clothes. Shampoo your car. Buy yourself flowers. You will enjoy their scent as your sense of smell returns..

  • Toss.
    Throw away all your cigarettes and matches. Give or throw away your lighters and ashtrays. Remember to toss the ashtray and lighter in your car too!

  • Brighten.
    Have your dentist clean your teeth to get rid of smoking stains. See how great they look. Try to keep them that way!

  • Purge.
    Some smokers save one pack of cigarettes "just in case." Or they want to prove they have the willpower not to smoke. Don't tempt yourself! Saving one pack just makes it easier to start smoking again.

This goes for other forms of tobacco, too!

All tobacco products contain harmful chemicals and poisons. Light or low-tar cigarettes are as harmful as regular cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, pipes, cigars, cigarillos, hookahs (waterpipes), bidi cigarettes, clove cigarettes, and herbal cigarettes harm your health too.

And you know those advertisements for new tobacco products aimed at women? Don’t buy the hype—all tobacco products are dangerous!

Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor About Quitting

Most smokers don't realize that their doctors or pharmacist can be a part of their support team. However, they can help you connect with the right resources to make your quit attempt easier.

Female talking with doctor

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the following:

  • Medications

  • In-person counseling and support

  • Telephone counseling and support

  • Local classes or support groups

  • Internet quitting programs

If you want to learn more about your options before you go to your doctor or pharmacist, check out our Quit Smoking Methods Explorer.

2 Types of Medications That Can Help With Withdrawal

Women with anxiety

When you quit smoking, you may feel strange at first. You may feel dull, tense, and not yourself. These are signs that your body is getting used to life without nicotine. It usually only lasts a few weeks.

Withdrawal symptoms can be a challenge. Many people start smoking again to feel better. Maybe this has happened to you. Most people slip up in the first week after quitting. This is when feelings of withdrawal are strongest.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following medicines to reduce withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke:

  1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
    Nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, and lozenges are called nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). That's because they replace nicotine from cigarettes but provide it in lower and controlled doses. NRT can help you handle the physical symptoms of quitting while also reducing the nicotine in your system. This satisfies your nicotine craving and lessens your urge to smoke. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your doctor before using NRT.

  2. Other Medicines
    Bupropion SR and Varenicline are medicines that don't have nicotine, but they still help with withdrawal and lessening the urge to smoke. You need a prescription to get these pills. Talk to your doctor to see if this medicine might be right for you.

Using these medicines can double or triple your chances of quitting for good. They can help with cravings and withdrawal coping, but they won't completely stop withdrawal symptoms.

Medications alone can't do all the work. Even if you use medication to help you stop smoking, quitting may still be hard at times. For most smokers their best chances of success come from a combination of using medication and changing their lifestyle. Check out our Quit Smoking Methods Explorer to learn more about which medicine might be right for you.

Is Nicotine Replacement Therapy Right for You? 6 Things You Should Consider

If you're thinking about using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), here are some things to keep in mind:

Female reading medical prescriptions on pill bottle
  1. Use the medication correctly.
    Read the direction in the package. If you have questions, ask your doctor, dentist, or pharmacist. These medicines can cause side effects in some people. And some people—like pregnant women—should not use NRT unless their doctor tells them it's ok.

  2. Be patient.
    Using NRT correctly can take some getting used to. Follow the instructions and give it some time.

  3. Start out using enough medicine.
    Use the full amount of NRT in the instructions. Don't skip or forget to use your NRT after you first stop smoking.

  4. Use the medicine long enough.
    Most of these medicines are approved to be used for 12 weeks or longer. Keep using the medicines to give you support over the first couple of months. If you're not sure how long to use the medicine, set up a schedule with your doctor or pharmacist.

  5. Keep some of the medicine with you after you stop using it.

    This way you'll be ready if an unexpected craving happens.

  6. Wait a half hour.
    After using the gum, lozenges, or inhaler, wait a half hour before you eat or drink anything that has a lot of acid. Food with acid such as tomato sauce, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, coffee, soda, orange juice, and grapefruit juice, can keep nicotine gum and inhalers from working.

Ask your doctor for help and learn more about medicines with nicotine, medicines without nicotine. For more information about different medicines, see our Quit Smoking Methods Explorer to decide if medication is right for you.

4 Other Ways to Quit Smoking Besides Using Medication

There are other ways to quit smoking besides cold turkey and medication. Medications are a good tool, but they're not a magic bullet. Boost your chances of quitting and staying quit by using these other proven methods.

Women viewing content on laptop
  1. The Smokefree Women website
    You're already on this website for a reason. Smokefree Women has the tools, information, and support that have helped smokers quit. Explore what's on the website and experiment with the tips to find what works best for you.

  2. Telephone quitlines
    Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to get one-on-one help, support, and coping strategies, and referrals to resources and local quit smoking programs. The National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines website provides an interactive map that will show you more resources in your state.

    You can also call the NCI's Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT.

  3. Your workplace
    More and more workplaces have help for employees who want to quit. Some offer quit-smoking clinics and support on the job. Others will pay for outside programs for their workers. Ask at work about the choices open to you.

  4. Your doctor
    Your doctor may know about a quit-smoking program or support group near you.

Many women find that combining counseling, support, and medication is the best strategy. Every woman is different, so find the method that works best for you.

How do Quit Smoking Programs Work?

Quit-smoking programs and support groups help smokers spot and deal with problems they have when trying to quit. The programs teach problem-solving and other coping skills.

family on the beach They can help you quit for good by:
  • Helping you better understand why you smoke

  • Teaching you how to handle withdrawal and stress

  • Teaching you tips to help resist the urge to smoke

These programs can work great if you’re willing to commit to them. The more support you get, the more likely you will quit for good. So be sure to go to all the sessions. If you want to try a quit-smoking program or support group to help you quit, call your state quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW). They can help connect you with groups in your area.

5 Things to do on Your Quit Day

Congratulations! Today's the day you start your smokefree life! The first few days of quitting are usually the hardest. Here are some things to do to help you stay smokefree.

Clock Time to Change
  1. Get support
    Remind your family and friends that today is your quit date. Ask them to be there for you during the first few days and weeks to help you through the rough spots. If you decided to use a support program, use it fully. Go to the sessions. Call your telephone quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Get support from other women who quit. The more support you get, the more likely you will quit for good.

  2. Stay away from what tempts you
    Certain people, places, things, or situations can make you want to smoke. Avoid the temptation by avoiding them.

  3. Keep busy
    Keep very busy today. Check out 15 Tips for Dealing with Cravings for suggestions.

  4. Create new habits
    Starting today, you may want to create some new habits to replace smoking. For example, start going for a walk after dinner instead of smoking. Do things that keep your hands busy like gardening or knitting. You may also want to try yoga or swimming. It's very hard to smoke and do these things at the same time.

  5. Use medication
    If you are using medicines to help you quit, make sure you follow the directions. If you don't follow the directions, the medications are less likely to help you quit smoking. Also, don't rush to stop using the medicine. Stick with it for at least 12 weeks (or follow your doctor's advice).

15 Tips for Dealing with Cravings

Although you've decided that you want to quit smoking, you're probably still going to want to smoke. Most people crave cigarettes for a while after they quit smoking. Just remember: The urge to smoke will come and go—and eventually it will go away for good! Try to wait it out—most cravings only last a few minutes.

Person walking

Here are some more tips that can help you deal with them:

  1. Do things and go places where smoking is not allowed
    Some good places are malls, libraries, museums, theaters, department stores, and places of worship. Keep this up until you're sure you can stay smokefree.

  2. Hold something
    Do you miss having a cigarette in your hand? Hold something else. Try a pencil, a paper clip, a marble, or a water bottle.

  3. Put something in your mouth
    Do you miss having something in your mouth? Try toothpicks, cinnamon sticks, lollipops, hard candy, sugar free gum, or carrot sticks.

  4. Drink a lot of water and fruit juice
    Avoid drinks like wine and beer. They can trigger you to smoke.

  5. Walk or brush after meals
    Instead of smoking after meals, get up from the table. Brush your teeth or go for a walk.

  6. Take public transit instead of driving if you can
    If you always smoke while driving, try something new. Listen to a new radio station or your favorite music. Take a different route. Or take the train or bus for a while, if you can.

  7. Stay away from things that you connect with smoking
    You may be used to smoking while watching TV, sitting in your favorite chair, or having a drink before dinner. Avoid these routines. Do it today and for the next few weeks.

  8. Remember, most people don't smoke
    If you must be somewhere you'll be tempted to smoke, like a party or in a bar, try to be near the non-smokers.

  9. Eat a healthy snack
    Keeping finger foods around instead of cigarettes will help you make it through a craving. Try carrots, pickles, sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raisins, or sugar free gum.

  10. Wash your hands
    Wash your hands or do the dishes when you want a cigarette very badly. Or take a shower.

  11. Breathe
    Take 10 slow, deep breaths and hold the last one. Repeat. Or practice Deep Conscious Breathing.

  12. Light a candle
    Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.

  13. Move around
    Where you are and what is going on can make you crave a cigarette. A change of scene can really help. Go outside, or go to a different room. You can also try changing what you are doing.

  14. Stay strong and continue to work hard
    No matter what, don't think, "Just one won't hurt." It will hurt.

  15. Try something—anything—just don't give in!
    Remember: Trying something to beat the urge is always better than trying nothing.

14 Things You Can DO to Cope with Cravings

woman meditating

Researchers have compared successful and unsuccessful quitters to find out what makes them different. So what do they do differently? Successful quitters use coping skills—things you can do to get your mind off the urge to smoke—to deal with cravings.

Here are 14 things to try when a craving hits:

  1. Walk away to put space between you and the trigger

  2. Call a friend

  3. Play peek-a-boo with your baby

  4. Get your body moving by dancing or taking a walk

  5. Take a nap

  6. Do yoga

  7. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths

  8. Read a book to your kid

  9. Brush your teeth

  10. Chew gum or some veggies

  11. Keep your hands busy with cards, a rubber band, or doodling

  12. Go to a park with your kid for some playtime

  13. Drink water

  14. Tell yourself N.O.P.E (Not One Puff Ever!)

It doesn't matter which strategy you use, just as long as you use coping skills to deal with cravings. Quitting is a learning process, so figure out which of these strategies works best for you.

Practice Your Lines: 16 Things to TELL YOURSELF to Cope With Cravings

Researchers have found that ex-smokers who try to rely on “willpower” alone tend to fail. It can be easy to lose sight of the benefits of quitting when a strong craving for a cigarette hits. You might start to lose your focus on staying smokefree. There is no good reason to smoke. You know this.

Here are some things to tell yourself when a craving strikes:

  1. Remind yourself why you wanted to quit.
    “I'm doing this for my health, to smell better, to save money…”

  2. Tell yourself how long you've been smokefree.
    “I've made it one whole week smokefree. I'm not starting over.”

  3. Remind yourself how you got through urges in the past.
    “Last time I had an urge I called my friend and chewed some gum. I beat that urge without smoking, and I can beat this one, too.”

  4. Figure out what is making you crave a cigarette.
    “I'm just feeling stressed right now. I'm going to take the baby for a quick walk to give myself a break.”

  5. Tell yourself that smoking won't solve your problem.
    “Smoking won't fix this. It will only make another problem.”

  6. Remind yourself how much your health has improved since you quit smoking.
    “I have more energy and am less winded going up stairs since I quit. I'm not giving that up.”

  7. Tell yourself that you're strong enough to beat this.
    “Smoking is not an option. I am strong enough to beat this craving.”

  8. Tell yourself that cravings are only temporary.
    “Cravings become weaker and less frequent with every day that I don't smoke. Even just one puff will feed the cravings and make them stronger.”

  9. Tell yourself there are better rewards after a long day.
    “I deserve a reward after a long day, but there are better rewards than a cigarette. Maybe a favorite meal, a funny movie, or a hot shower will help me relax without ruining my quit attempt.”

  10. Tell yourself that you are strong enough to get through it.
    Even the strongest cravings last less than 3 minutes. The urge will go away whether I smoke or not, and smoking now will just make it even harder for me to quit later. I can find something else to do—anything—until the craving goes away.”

  11. Remind yourself to take quitting one day at a time.
    “I only have to deal with today. Quitting happens one craving, and one decision at a time!”

  12. Remind yourself (and others) that mood changes are common after you quit and smoking won't help them.
    “My friends and family love me and understand that quitting smoking now is the best gift I can give them. Cranky or not, I am not doing them any favors by continuing to smoke.”

  13. Tell yourself N.O.P.E (Not One Puff Ever)!
    “I have never smoked just one before. I don't want to undo all my progress by smoking a cigarette now. Plus, every cigarette that I smoke feeds the habit and makes it that much harder to quit.”

  14. Remind yourself that quitting is not impossible.
    “Quitting and staying away from cigarettes is hard, but it's not impossible. About 40 million Americans have quit smoking. If other people can do it, so can I. It is too important to give up on.”

  15. Remind yourself of the benefits of a smokefree life.
    No matter how long I've been smoking, my body will benefit from quitting. The healing process starts right away, and before long, I will start to feel healthier and look better.”

  16. Remind yourself that the health effects of smoking are very real.
    “It's true that some people get lucky. But there is no way of knowing whether I will be one of the lucky ones, and I am not willing to risk my life. The only safe choice is to quit smoking now.

Quitting? 6 New Habits to Create to Replace Smoking

If you've been smoking for a long time, or even for just a few months, it's probably become a big part of your life. Starting today, on your quit day, you may want to create some new habits.

Female riding bicycle

Here are some new things to try:

  1. Be active!

    It's hard to smoke and do these things at the same time:

    • Jogging

    • Playing tennis

    • Bike riding

    • Shooting baskets

    • Walking your dog

    • Yoga

  2. Keep your hands busy.

    Do crossword puzzles or needlework. Paint. Do woodworking, gardening, or household chores. You can also write a letter or paint your nails.

  3. Enjoy having a clean tasting mouth.

    Brush your teeth often and use mouthwash.

  4. Stretch.

    Take a stretch when you're tempted to reach for a cigarette.

  5. Take breaks.

    There are natural breaks even during a busy day—after dinner, first thing in the morning, or just before bed. Set aside this time for the activities that satisfy you and mean the most to you.

  6. Get plenty of rest.

    You'll need to rest and get plenty of good sleep while you get used to your smokefree lifestyle. Try taking naps when you can or just sitting in a quiet spot to relax or meditate with your eyes closed.

What Happens to Your Body After You Quit?

No one said quitting would be easy. We know it's hard! But it's really important for you to remember that:

Female standing in park

Within 20 minutes after a cigarette,your body begins to heal.

  • The poison gas and nicotine start to leave your body.

  • Your pulse rate goes back to normal.

  • The oxygen in your blood rises to a normal level.

Within a few days you may notice other things.

  • Your senses of taste and smell are better.

  • You can breathe easier.

  • Your "smoker's hack" starts to go away. (You may keep coughing for a while, though.)

In the long run you will see other benefits.

  • You reduce your risk of cancer.

  • You reduce your risk of COPD and other lung disease.

  • You reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Your body starts to repair itself as nicotine leaves your body within three days. At first, you may feel worse instead of better. Withdrawal feelings can be hard. But they are a sign that your body is healing.

Quit Today—Reduce Your Risk of 3 Health Effects From Smoking

Risk check yes or check no

You breathe in more than 4,000 chemicals each time you smoke a cigarette. All forms of tobacco are harmful and even deadly. Both women and men are hurt by these poisons. Smoking causes harm to nearly every part of your body.

  1. Cancers
    Tobacco use in the United States causes about 450,000 deaths each year. Of those deaths, 170,000 are from cancer. Smoking causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and acute myeloid leukemia. Female smokers also have an increased risk of cervical cancer.

    The most common cancer women die of? Not breast cancer. Lung cancer. More women in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer.

    Good news
    Once you are smokefree for five years, you are less likely to die from lung cancer and other lung diseases than if you were still a smoker. The longer you stay smokefree, the lower your chances of getting these diseases. Women of all ages who quit smoking can lower their chance of getting diseases such as cancer. For smokers who do get cancer, quitting smoking helps their bodies to heal and to respond to cancer treatment. Quitting also lowers their chance of getting a second cancer.

  2. Heart disease and stroke
    More women die of heart disease than anything else. Smoking causes heart disease in women. A woman's chance of getting heart disease goes up with the number of cigarettes she has smoked and how long she has been smoking.

    Good news
    Your chance of getting heart disease greatly goes down within one to two years of quitting smoking. Once you are smokefree for 10 years, your risk of heart disease is the same as if you had never been a smoker.

    Women who smoke are more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers.

    Good news
    You can lower your chance of having a stroke by quitting smoking. Five to 15 years after quitting, your chance of stroke is the same as that of a woman who has never smoked.

  3. Lungs
    Cigarette smoking is the #1 cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among women. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two kinds of COPD. Your chance of getting COPD goes up the more you smoke and the longer you smoke. Among women in the United States, cigarette smoking causes about 9 out of every 10 deaths from COPD.

    Teen girls who smoke have lungs that don't grow as much as non-smokers’ lungs, and adult women who smoke have lungs that don't work as well as non-smokers’ lungs.

    It's not just about how long you live; it's about quality of life. Quitting can add healthy, full days to each year of your life. It can also help you set a good example for your children. You're showing young people that a life without cigarettes is a longer, healthier, happier life!

Withdrawal: How You May Feel When You Quit

Most smokers go through some sort of withdrawal. The nicotine in cigarettes is an addictive substance. The majority of people who smoke regularly are addicted to nicotine. When you stop smoking, your body has to get used to not having nicotine.

Female frowning face

Common symptoms of smoking withdrawal include:

  • Feeling depressed

  • Not being able to sleep

  • Getting cranky, frustrated, or mad

  • Feeling anxious, nervous, or restless

  • Having trouble thinking clearly

  • Feeling hungry or gaining weight

  • Craving cigarettes

Not everyone has feelings of withdrawal. Maybe you'll get lucky! You may have one or many of these problems. And they may last different amounts of time. The medicines described in this guide can help.

What Should I Do If I Slip?

Quitting is a learning process. Many ex-smokers had to try stopping many times before they finally succeeded. When people slip up, it's usually within the first three months after quitting.

Here's what you can do if this happens:

Female stepping on banana peel
  • Understand that you've only had a slip.
    You've had a small setback. This doesn't make you a smoker again. Recommit to quit today.

  • Don't be too hard on yourself.
    One slip up doesn't make you a failure. It doesn't mean you can't quit for good.

  • Don't be too easy on yourself either.
    If you slip up, don't say, "Well, I've blown it. I might as well smoke the rest of this pack." It's important to get back on the non-smoking track right away. Remember, your goal is no cigarettes—not even one puff.

  • Feel good about all the time you went without smoking.
    Try to learn how to make your coping skills better.

  • Find the trigger.
    Exactly what was it that made you smoke? Be aware of that trigger. Decide now how you will cope with it when it comes up again.

  • Learn from your experience.
    What has helped you the most to keep from smoking? Make sure to do that on your next try.

  • Are you using a medicine to help you quit?
    Don't stop using your medicine after only one or two cigarettes. Stay with it. It will help you get back on track.

  • Know and use the tips in this online guide.
    People with even one coping skill are more likely to stay non-smokers than those who don't know any. START to stop again!

  • Talk to your doctor or another health professional.
    He or she can help motivate you to quit smoking.

Don't get discouraged if you slip up and smoke one or two cigarettes. It's not a lost cause. One cigarette is better than an entire pack. But that doesn't mean you can safely smoke every now and then, no matter how long ago you quit. One cigarette may seem harmless, but it can quickly lead back to one or two packs a day.

Already Quit? 4 Tips for Staying Smokefree

A common mistake smokers often make is to think that the job is done after a week or two when most withdrawal feelings typically end. Do not be over confident. As time goes by, you may begin to have thoughts of smoking and to think how nice it would be to have just one cigarette.

Person ripping paper

Here are some things you can do to help you stay smokefree:

  1. Keep your guard up
    Your body has changed since you began to smoke. Your brain has learned to crave nicotine. So certain places, people, or events can trigger a strong urge to smoke, even years after quitting. That's why you should never take a puff again, no matter how long it has been since you quit.

    At first, you may not be able to do things as well as when you were smoking. Don't worry. This won't last long. Your mind and body just need to get used to being without nicotine.

  2. Fight the urges
    The urge to smoke often hits at the same times. For many people, the hardest place to resist the urge is at home. And many urges hit when someone else is smoking nearby. Look at your Craving Journal (PDF) to see when you might be tempted. Then use the skills you've learned to get through your urges without smoking.

  3. Stay positive
    As you go through the first days and weeks without smoking, keep a positive outlook. Don't blame or punish yourself if you do have a cigarette. Don't think of smoking as "all or none." Instead, take it one day at a time. Remember that quitting is a learning process.

  4. Reward yourself for being smokefree
    Think about starting a "ciggy-bank" if you haven't already. Put your cigarette money aside for each day you don't smoke. Soon you'll have enough money to buy a reward for yourself. Use our savings calculator to find out just how much!

Want to Talk to an Expert About Quitting? 3 Ways to Get the Support you Need to be Smokefree

You don't have to go through quitting alone. And although your friends and family are great, there may be times when you want to talk to an expert. Here are some ways to get the help you need.

Women holding up three fingers
  • By instant messaging
    Receive information and advice about quitting smoking through real-time text messaging with a National Cancer Institute smoking cessation counselor. Support via LiveHelp Exit disclaimer is offered in English only, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

  • By telephone (Quit Now)
    For help from the National Cancer Institute: 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848). Exit disclaimer This toll-free telephone number connects you to The National Cancer Institute’s trained counseling and information about quitting smoking in your state. Counselors are available to provide information and help with quitting in English or Spanish, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    Your state has a toll-free telephone quitline. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to get one-on-one help quitting, support and coping strategies, and referrals to resources and local cessation programs. You can also call your state quitline.

  • For Military Personnel and Their Families
    Quit smoking resources and education for members of the U.S. military and their families, at Quit Tobacco. Make Everyone Proud Exit disclaimer is a quit smoking resource for members of the U.S. military and their families, sponsored by the Department of Defense.

  • Women Who Quit
    Sometimes the best advice comes from women who are going through the same thing you. Check out our Smokefree Women Facebook page. Exit disclaimer There’s a lot to learn, a lot to share, and you may even be inspired to begin your own quit journey.

we are strong enough to quit

Quit Guide

From those of us at Smokefree Women…Congratulations! You are taking the first step towards a healthier, new lifestyle.

Start Today
Woman looking at her cell phone

Having a Baby?

SmokefreeMOM is a text messaging program that provides quitting tips and encouragement.

Smiling woman holding her hand under her chin
Sign Up

Our Tools

The Smokefree Women Web site includes a variety of interactive tools to help you quit smoking.