Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year (about 1 of every 5 deaths) with more than 41,000 of those deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition to cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, also has harmful chemicals that can cause cancer, heart disease, and gum disease.
E-Cigarettes and vaping have become very popular in recent years, and while they are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, they are not without risk and potential harm from nicotine and other chemicals. In addition, scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking.
Tools to Quit
Keep in mind that quitting is not easy. Some smokers can quit without assistance, but most who attempt to quit do not succeed on the first try. Combining some type of emotional support like counseling with a type of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or medication proves to be the most successful method.
Group or Individual Support
- Courage to Quit is a group-based, comprehensive approach to smoking cessation offered by the University of Chicago Medicine.
- UChicago Student Wellness can provide individual therapy for help with addiction.
- Your primary care physician can help you choose the right options for you to be successful in quitting.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine in tobacco products can lead to physical dependence, causing withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to quit. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) provides nicotine in the form of gums, patches, sprays, inhalers, or lozenges. NRT can help relieve some of the physical withdrawal symptoms so individuals can focus on the emotional aspects of tobacco dependence as well. Always consult with a doctor before starting any NRT.
There are a variety of prescription drugs to help you quit smoking, including Bupropion, Varenicline (Chantix), Nortriptyline, or Clonidine. Your doctor can help you choose which options would be best for you.