Can I Still Quit

October 8, 2022

By: Dr. Mary Rose Strickland

Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the US. On average ~50 million Americans die prematurely every year and ~16 million suffer from diseases caused by smoking. But the good news is, it’s never too late to quit.

Quitting reduces the risk of disease – including lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and infertility. The benefits of quitting smoking can be seen immediately and over time:

  • People who quit smoking cut their risk of having a heart attack by 50% IMMEDIATELY upon quitting, compared to someone who continues to smoke.
  • In 1 year, the risk of heart disease is 50% of a non-smoker.
  • In 2-5 years, the risk of stroke is approximately that of a non-smoker.
  • In 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is reduced by 50%

It can also add meaningful years to your life:

  • Quitting at age 30 adds 10 years of life expectancy.
  • Quitting at age 60 adds 3 years of life expectancy.

Ready to quit? There are a variety of options proven to help.

  1. Talk to your primary care doctor about medications available. Several therapies are available from nicotine replacement to non-nicotine medications.
  2. Counseling with a practical approach (which includes problem-solving skills and skills training) can be very helpful in recognizing high-risk situations, identifying triggers, addressing barriers to behavior change, developing physical/mental coping skills, providing support and encouragement, and engaging in discussions about the quitting process.
  3. Other treatment options are available, although not well researched on its effects. This includes acupuncture, hypnosis, cigarette fading, and restrictive environment stimulation therapy. Care should be taken before considering e-cigarette or vaping, as these items are not FDA regulated and even items labeled “no nicotine” have been found to contain nicotine. They have recently associated with lung injury.