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Many people who are trying to quit don't know this...

Nicotine Replacement Products are widely recommended by health care professionals and carry no cancer risk. The cost of nicotine replacement therapy is about the same or less than the cost of cigarettes.

The nicotine patch, gum, nasal spray and inhaler are all forms of nicotine replacement therapy. All forms of nicotine replacement can help lessen your urge to smoke. This means you have less craving for nicotine when you stop smoking. You may still feel a craving to smoke, but don't smoke while using the patch, gum, nasal spray or inhaler.

Nicotine itself is a stimulant and not a carcinogen. Cigarettes contain over 60 carcinogens, but nicotine is not one of them.  Many people attempting to quit smoking are unaware of these facts about nicotine.

Another common misconception is that so-called “light” cigarettes are better for them. “People smoke to get the drug nicotine, but a smoker actually inhales — along with the nicotine jolt — 4,000 other chemicals as an added-on bonus including things like formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, and carbon monoxide.”(4)


Hazards of Smoking Photo of chronic smoker's lung to right:

Lungs from a smokerTobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for a growing list of cancers as well as chronic diseases including those of the lung and heart.

Tobacco, whether smoked, chewed or sniffed, contains nicotine, which is highly addictive, and contains over 60 carcinogens and 4000 chemicals. About half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die because of the habit.(2) The photo of a chronic smoker's lung shows the many black deposits that are from years of smoking. photo courtesy of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2007

Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body and is linked to at least 15 different cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

People who stop smoking at younger ages experience the greatest health benefits from quitting. Those who quit by age 35 avoid 90% of the risk due to tobacco use. However, even smokers who quit after age 50 substantially reduce their risk of dying early. The argument that it is too late to quit smoking because the damage is already done is not true. (2)

Currently one out of four Americans smoke.(2) Approximately 80% of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18. Every day, 4,000 young people under the age of 18 try their first cigarette, (3) with nearly 22% of all high school students smoking in 2003.

Tips on Quitting Smoking from MerckSource.com
First and foremost, set a quit date and quit COMPLETELY on that day. To prepare for that day:
  • Identify the times you are most likely to smoke. For example, do you tend to smoke when feeling stressed? When you are out at night with friends? While you are drinking coffee? When you are bored? While you are driving? Etc.
  • Keep a diary to help you determine such risky times. Record each time you have a cigarette, including time of day and what you are doing.
  • Make a plan about what you will do instead of smoking at those times that you are most likely to smoke. For example, drink tea instead of coffee; tea may not trigger the desire for a cigarette. Or, take a walk when feeling stressed. Remove ashtrays and cigarettes from the car. Place pretzles or hard candies there instead. Pretend smoke with a straw.
  • Avoid smoke-filled settings and situations in which you are more likely to smoke.
  • Let all of your friends, family, and co-workers know of your plan to stop smoking and your quit date. Just being aware that they know can be a helpful reminder and motivator.
  • Find a co-worker, friend or family member also interested in quitting, and work together on your mutual goal.
  • Prior to your quit date, start reducing your cigarette use, including decreasing the number and strength of the cigarettes.
  • Get rid of all of your cigarettes just prior to the quit date and clean out anything that smells like smoke, such as clothes and furniture.
  • Exercise regularly to relieve urges to smoke. Research has found that daily exercise is very helpful in preventing and treating addictive habits such as smoking.

Other tips that can help you quit and stay quit include:

  • Enroll in a smoking cessation program (hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites frequently offer programs).

  • Ask your health care provider for help, including whether prescription medications are appropriate for you:

    • Zyban or Wellbutrin (bupropion) comes in a tablet to be taken daily. It is used to help people stop smoking, but also commonly prescribled to treat depression as well as seasonal affective disorder. It is in a class of medications called antidepressants and works by increasing certain types of activity in the brain. Read more.

    • Nicotine Replacement Products are widely recommended by health care professionals and carry no cancer risk. Nicotine itself is a stimulant and not a carcinogen. Cigarettes contain over 60 carcinogens, but nicotine is not one of them.  Because nicotine products are stimulants, they do have specific side effects and safety concerns--ask your doctor before using any of these products:

      • Nicotine patches (NicoDerm)
      • Nicotine lozenges
      • Nicotine gum (Nicorette)
      • Nicotine nasal sprays
      • Nicotine oral inhalation sprays (Nicotrol) Nicotine oral inhalation comes as a cartridge to inhale by mouth using a special inhaler. The Nicotrol Inhaler prevents the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and, through a familiar hand-to-mouth ritual, acts as a replacement for cigarettes. Note: To be successful with this system, you must be genuinely committed to quitting, and should give up smoking completely before you begin using the inhaler. Inhalers should only be part of an overall smoking cessation program that includes behavior modification, counseling, and support. The goal is to become a total non-smoker. If you find that you are still smoking after 4 weeks with the inhaler, you should probably stop the inhaler and try again when you are really ready to quit.

    • Chantix (varenicline) A smoking cessation drug that has been on the market since 2006. The FDA has issued an Alert regarding serious neuropsychiatric symptoms that have occurred in patients taking Chantix. These symptoms include changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation, and attempted and completed suicide. For those taking Chantix, the FDA advises the following "If either you, your family or caregiver notice agitation, depressed mood, or changes in behavior that are not typical for you, or if you have suicidal thoughts or actions, stop taking Chantix and call your doctor right away." Read about varenicline (Chantix)

  • Hypnosis works for some people.
Support Groups

Nicotine Anonymous Nicotine Anonymous is a Non-Profit 12 Step Fellowship of men and women helping each other live nicotine-free lives. Nicotine Anonymous welcomes all those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction, including those using cessation programs and nicotine withdrawal aids. The primary purpose of Nicotine Anonymous is to help all those who would like to cease using tobacco and nicotine products in any form. The Fellowship offers group support and recovery using the 12 Steps as adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous to achieve abstinence from nicotine. Offers both local support groups and internet meetings.

Classes and Clinics for Smoking Cessation in Pinellas County, Florida


  • Bay Pines VA Medical Center Call (727) 398-6661 ext. 4922
    Available to veterans with a referral from their VA primary care provider
  • Pinellas Co Health Department: STEPS to a Healthier Pinellas and Project Strong Heart  Southern Pinellas County residents, call (727) 820-4113; North County residents call (727) 820-4114
  • Smoking: Addiction, Prevention, and Treatment
    6170 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33707, Call (727)-347-6133 or (800)-772-5863
  • Wellness Seminar through EasyWillpower.com  (2-hr session of a combination of hypnosis and behavior modification techniques.  This is a hospital-based program).

On-line Smoking Cessation Class (free)
American Lung Association:  free on-line smoking cessation class



Phone Counseling (Free)
  • American Cancer Society and Florida Dept of Health : Florida Quit For Life Line 1-877-822-6669 Call 24 hours a day free phone counseling receive free self-help materials
  • American Lung Association call Tobacco Quit Line 1-800-548-8252for free phone counseling
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC) call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-800-332-8615 for support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources

Video Tutorial
Quit Smoking Video Tutorial from Medline Plus a Service of the National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health

References
(1) Smoking Hazards from MerckSource.com
(2) Smoking from the American Cancer Society
(3) Tobacco Information and Prevention Sources (TIPS) from the CDC
(4) Virginia Reichert, N.P., director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.
Written by N Thompson, RN, MSN, ARNP and M Thompson, MD, Internal Medicine, Last updated July 2009

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