Here are some common questions asked before deciding to quit smoking.
Is it safe for me to use nicotine replacement medicines to help me quit smoking?
Yes. Research shows that most patients with heart disease can safely use the patch, gum, spray or inhaler. However, if you've recently had heart problems, such as an irregular or rapid heartbeat, or chest pain, consult your doctor before using nicotine replacement products. The amount of nicotine in these products is about one-third the amount that you're receiving from cigarettes. It's far better for you to use these products than to continue to smoke. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes robs your heart of oxygen that it needs to work properly. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which medicine is best for you and how long to use it.
What about e-cigarettes?There is not enough research to show that e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking. The long-term health impact of using them is not yet known. And, they are not regulated by the FDA at this time. While likely less toxic than cigarette smoking, e-cigarette vapor still may contain low levels of toxic chemicals, nicotine and metals.
You should first try to quit smoking using the strategies and medicines for smoking cessation. If repeated efforts with these treatments do not work for you, you may talk to your healthcare provider about e-cigarettes as a possible alternative to smoking. If you do switch from a traditional cigarette to an e-cigarette, it should not be a long-term solution. You should still work to identify and commit to a specific “quit date” for both traditional and e-cigarettes.
Is it safe for me to use smokeless tobacco products to help me quit smoking?No tobacco product is safe. Smokeless tobacco should not be used for smoking cessation because long-term use moderately increases the risk of a fatal heart attack, fatal stroke and certain cancers. It is also addictive – smokeless tobacco users often experience the same withdrawal symptoms as individuals who stop smoking cigarettes.
Funding for comprehensive tobacco control and prevention programs in many states remains inadequate. The American Heart Association strongly advocates increased funding for effective and accessible tobacco cessation programs. Approximately one-third of tobacco users will die prematurely because of their dependence on tobacco unless treatment efforts are increased.
Which medicine should I choose to help me quit smoking?
All of the medicines work well in helping a person to quit smoking. If you associate smoking with having something in your mouth, you may do better with nicotine gum. The patch delivers nicotine continuously for 16 hours while you are awake, or 24 hours if you use a patch that's worn all night. If you haven't had success with other nicotine products, the nasal spray or inhaler may help you. A non-nicotine prescription medicine such as bupropion hydrochloride or varenicline can help most people and may be used with nicotine medicines. Talk to your doctor about which medicine might work best for you.
Will these medicines keep me from gaining weight?
The medicines may delay weight gain. Most people gain a few pounds after they stop taking the medicine. The average weight gain after quitting smoking is only about six pounds. You can limit your weight gain by getting regular physical activity and choosing nutritious meals and snacks.
I always seem to get depressed when I quit smoking. Is there something to help me so I can quit?
People who quit smoking will tell you that giving up cigarettes can be very difficult. It can feel like a loss because people often associate smoking with pleasure. If you've been depressed when you've tried to quit before, you may benefit from a non-nicotine prescription medicine such as bupropion hydrochloride or varenicline. It's harder to kick the smoking habit when you're depressed.
What if I continue to smoke? Are there programs in the community that can help me?
During the quitting process, people often slip and have a cigarette. It's important not to feel like you failed at quitting; just give it another chance. If you need more support, look for quit-smoking programs through hospitals, the American Cancer Society*, American Heart Association or American Lung Association*. Some states have hotlines with trained staff to help you with quitting. Some people benefit from group support like Smokers Anonymous*. Check the yellow pages of your phone book, search the Internet or ask your nurses and doctors for help finding a program or support group.