Cancer Prevention: Smoking Cessation


Nearly every person who smokes or chews tobacco knows it’s an unhealthy habit. But tobacco products are highly addictive, and, just like any habit, they can be difficult to give up.

There are many reasons why people choose to give up smoking or chewing:

  • Pressure from friends, family, or co-workers
  • Cost of tobacco products continuing to rise
  • Side effects of smoking affecting their lifestyle
  • Fear of developing lung cancer, COPD, or emphysema

All of these are compelling reasons, but the most important reason to quit is YOU. You deserve to be healthy, and you deserve the extra years of life that quitting provides.

How tobacco use affects cancer risk and recovery

Smoking or chewing tobacco increases your risk for more than just lung cancer. The chemicals in tobacco products get into your bloodstream and are carried throughout your body, impacting other areas as well.

How tobacco affects cancer risk:

  • At least 250 of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide. At least 69 of those 250 chemicals can cause cancer.
  • Tobacco use contributes to at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths.
  • Using tobacco can cause cancers of the lung, head and neck, kidneybladderliverpancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum, and can even cause acute myeloid leukemia.

Ten years after a person quits smoking, their risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half. That makes now a great time to quit!

If you’re a current smoker age 55 or older, you can benefit from CT lung cancer screening. The screening can help detect lung cancer in an early stage so treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Small steps to quitting smoking

Some smokers have an emotional connection to cigarettes – it’s the habit they rely on to calm their nerves when they are stressed or upset. Finding something healthier to meet that need for calm can help you quit successfully. A nicotine cessation program can help you figure out what works best for you.

Here’s another idea: Get active. Incorporating more exercise into your daily routine can help improve your lung function and keep you preoccupied so you think less about smoking. It also causes your brain to release endorphins, which can help replace the relaxed feeling you once got from cigarettes.

If you’re considering cutting back on smoking instead of going cold turkey, remember that there is no safe level of tobacco use – even social tobacco use is dangerous. It may be helpful for you to avoid “tobacco triggers” during the first few weeks to months after quitting.

  • If you always smoke when you drink alcohol, consider cutting back on drinking for a few weeks and avoiding bars or restaurants.
  • Keep gum, lozenges, or pretzel sticks in your car if you’re accustomed to smoking during your commute.
  • Pay at the pump for a few weeks to avoid going into the gas station and purchasing cigarettes out of habit.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible. It’s OK to ask someone not to smoke around you.

It also may help to take some time away from your social circle if your friends or co-workers smoke. But don’t cut yourself off completely. Most people will support your decision to quit smoking – just be honest and don’t be judgmental if the people close to you who smoke aren’t yet ready to quit.

We can tell you the facts about tobacco use until we’re blue in the face. But ultimately, you have to decide for yourself when you’re ready to quit. When you’re ready to snuff out this life-shortening habit, we’re here to help.