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The Rewards of Quitting Smoking Start Today

Learning how to quit smoking may seem daunting. In fact, it's a journey with twists, turns, rewards, and surprises. Every journey begins with one step. And for many people, that first step is quitting for 1 day, followed by another, then another.

You can explore quitting during the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout (GASO) on Thursday, November 21, 2013, with the support of others around the nation. The idea is to quit smoking on that day and begin to enjoy the rewards of a lifetime of smoke-free living.

Quitting smoking is an important step toward a healthier life. From the first day, you'll learn to recognize your own smoking triggers, which may surprise you. Perhaps just seeing a gas-station cigarette ad, talking on the phone, or watching an exciting sporting event may prompt a craving. Soon, you can learn how to outsmart your smoking triggers. In 24 hours, you will have boosted your chances of quitting for good.

How Can You Get Ready to Quit?

Quitting smoking can be hard, so a good plan can help you get past symptoms of withdrawal. Five steps can help.

  1. Set a quit date. The Great American Smokeout on November 21 is a great time to quit, along with many other people around the country. Or choose another quit day within the next 2 weeks.
  2. Photo: Father and daughter cooking dinnerTell your family and friends you plan to quit. Share your quit date with the important people in your life and ask for support. A daily email, text message, or phone call can help you stay on course and provide moral support. Try SmokefreeTEXT for 24/7 help on your mobile phone.

    Plan a smoke-free lunch date or game night to distract yourself. Or gather your family in the kitchen to cook a special meal together.
  3. Anticipate and plan for challenges. The urge to smoke is short, usually only 3 to 5 minutes. Surprised? Those moments can feel intense. Before your quit day, write down healthy ways to cope. Even one puff can feed a craving and make it stronger. Smart moves include:
    • Drinking water
    • Taking a walk or climbing the stairs
    • Listening to a favorite song or playing a game
    • Calling or texting a friend
  4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your home, car, and workplace. Throw away your cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Clean and freshen your car, home, and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.
  5. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum, or other medicines may help with cravings.

Tiffany: How I Quit Smoking

Tiffany knew that restroom breaks and car trips would tempt her to smoke, so she planned her quit strategy carefully with nicotine patches, support from friends, and walking.

What Are Your Reasons for Quitting?

Maybe you want to be healthier, save money for something special, or make your family proud. Write down your own reasons for quitting. They can help you stay strong. Keep the list handy and read it when you get the urge to smoke.

For Tiffany, her daughter provided a strong reason to quit smoking—one that became more urgent as the girl grew older. When Tiffany was only 16, her mother, a cigarette smoker, died of lung cancer. Tiffany greatly missed having her mother around for the milestones in her life and vowed that her daughter would not feel that same pain. 

Seeing her own daughter become a teenager inspired Tiffany to take action. Tiffany shared her quitting story in CDC's national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers.

Reward Yourself Often

Quitting smoking happens 1 minute, 1 hour, and 1 day at a time. Reward yourself often! Grab a carrot stick, practice a yoga pose, take a 3-minute break to watch a funny video, or shoot hoops with a friend after work.

Plan each milestone with a reward: a half-day smoke-free, 24 hours, 1 week, and beyond as you become a nonsmoker.

How Soon Will You See Rewards After Quitting?

You may be surprised at how quickly your body begins healing and your savings add up.

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • By bedtime, the carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. Every part of your body now gets more oxygen.
  • In 24 hours, you'll have more spending money. If you smoke two $10 packs a day—that's $20 saved in a day!
  • In a year, your risk for heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes.

You Can Do It!

The first day of a quit, a pleasant surprise for many people is finding their own personal strength. Congratulate yourself! You have what it takes to quit forever.

More Resources for Quitting

The following resources can help you quit smoking:

50 Years Later: The Surgeon General Reports on Smoking in the United States

In 1964, the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health came out linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease. Since then, smoking rates among adults and youth have been cut in half. Despite this remarkable progress, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. In 2014, the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health will reveal new data on the health effects of smoking and strategies to help decrease smoking in the United States.