What's it like: To quit smoking

More than 60 years ago, it was not uncommon to see cigarette advertisements proclaiming, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!” Now warning labels have been added to cigarettes, and the rules around marketing have changed.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: November 23, 2013
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Why quit smoking?

More than 60 years ago, it was not uncommon to see cigarette advertisements proclaiming, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!” One Philip Morris cigarette ad from 1953 claimed that its cigarette was “the great scientific discovery that protects you from certain harsh irritants found in every other leading cigarette.”

But since the 1960s, warning labels have been added to cigarettes, and the rules around marketing have changed.

So has public perception.

People quit smoking for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it's health related. If a person has a history of cancer in their family, that can be a motivator to quit. Other people choose to quit for a family member or because they're having a child.

Although Oklahoma has seen a decrease in the number of adults who smoke, the state still ranks No. 39 in the nation for the number of adult smokers. And more than 34 percent of Oklahoma's new mothers smoke just before pregnancy and nearly one in five continue throughout pregnancy. For these women, quitting smoking could mean birthing a healthier baby. It could also decrease the likelihood that their child develops asthma or dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

What happens when you quit smoking?

Depending on how often you smoke, the health benefits can be immediate. Your heart rate and blood pressure can drop about 20 minutes after you quit. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood can drop back to normal.

Between one month and nine months after quitting, your lungs start to regain normal function and you might experience a decreasing amount of coughing and shortness of breath.

The health benefits can increase the longer you stay smoke-free.

What are the different options that people can use to quit?

Nicotine replacement therapies offer a slow delivery of nicotine into your system. These therapies include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal spray and inhalers.

Nicotine patches deliver doses of nicotine through the skin while nicotine gum delivers a fast-acting form of nicotine through the mucus membrane of the mouth. Nicotine nasal spray and inhalers are available through a prescription. There are also prescription pills available that can help with withdrawal and lessen the urge to smoke.

It's important to understand the directions for any type of nicotine replacement therapy.

For example, you can suffer from jaw pain or nausea if you improperly use nicotine gum. Each option comes with potential side effects, and not every option is available for all smokers.

Some people choose to quit “cold turkey,” quitting without tapering themselves off or using any replacement therapies or prescription drugs.

Others prefer more “natural” ways to quit smoking, such as using a mixture of baking soda. There is a range of information available online about different techniques you can try, but it's important to talk with your doctor throughout the process.


by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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