Behavior Change, IBD

How to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions people can take to improve their health. This is true regardless of their age or how long they have been smoking. 

Over time, people who quit smoking see many benefits to their health. After you smoke your last cigarette, your body begins a series of positive changes that continue for years. 

Time after quittingHealth Benefits
Minutes Heart rate drops 
24 hours Nicotine level in the blood drops to zero
Several days Carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to a level of someone who does not smoke
1 to 12 months Coughing and shortness of breath decrease 
1 to 2 years Risk of heart attack drops sharply
3 to 6 years Added risk of coronary heart disease drops by half 
5 to 10 years Added risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box drops by half 
Risk of stroke decreases 
10 years Added risk of lung cancer drops by half after 10-15 years 
Risk of cancers of the bladder, esophagus, and kidney decreases 
15 years Risk of coronary heart disease drops to close to that of someone who does not smoke 
20 years Risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box drops to close to that of someone who does not smoke 
Risk of pancreatic cancer drops to close to that of someone who does not smoke 
Added risk of cervical cancer drops by about half

Many people who smoke become addicted to nicotine, a drug that is found naturally in tobacco. This can make it hard to quit smoking. But the good news is there are proven treatments that can help you quit. 


Counseling can help you make a plan to quit smoking and help you prepare to cope with stress, urges to smoke, and other issues you may face when trying to quit. 

You can: 

  • Talk to a quit smoking counselor individually or in a group. 
  • Get free confidential coaching through a telephone quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW). 
  • Use free online resources like and
  • Sign up for free texting programs like SmokeFreeTXT
  • Use a mobile app like quitSTART


Medications can help you manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which helps you stay confident and motivated to quit. 

You can: 

  • Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) 
    • Over-the-counter forms: patch, gum, lozenge 
    • Prescription forms: inhaler, nasal spray 
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about using a prescription medication 
    • Varenicline 
    • Bupropion 
  • Combine medications 
    • Use a long-acting form of NRT (nicotine patch) together with a short-acting form (such as nicotine gum or lozenge). 
    • Compared to using one form of NRT, this combination can further increase your chances of quitting. 

Using counseling and medication together gives you the best chance of quitting for good. Many of these treatments and resources may be available to you free of charge or may be covered by your insurance. 

Get Help Quitting Today 

If you are ready to quit: 

  • Call a QuitLine coach (1-800-QUIT-NOW
  • Talk to a healthcare professional or your Care Team 

They can help you decide what treatment is best for you and can connect you to quit smoking programs and resources. 

Remember, even if you’ve tried before, the key to success is to keep trying and not give up. After all, more than half of U.S. adults who smoked have quit. 

For information about quitting smoking, visit

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention