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Smoking Cessation:  What does it take to quit?

Focused on Health - August 2008

Cancer Basics – Learn more about smoking and lung cancer.
Reducing your Risks – Learn strategies for quitting smoking.
Smoking Cessation Programs – Participate in a smoking cessation study.
Prevention Stories – Read the latest news on smoking cessation studies.

Cancer Basics

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is responsible for 87% of all lung cancer cases and 30% of all deaths from cancer. Smoking contributes to heart disease, stroke, lung diseases such as emphysema and asthma, low birth rate in newborns and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Secondhand smoke increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30% and lung cancer by 20 to 30%. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, secondhand smoke kills nearly 38,000 non-smokers each year.

Reducing Your Risks

Eliminating tobacco use is the key to reducing the impact of lung cancer and many other diseases. Experts at M. D. Anderson offer the following tips to:

Quit Smoking

  • Set a quit date and tell family, friends and coworkers
  • Get rid of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco and ashtrays at home, work and in your car
  • Get involved with a tobacco cessation program
  • Walk, jog or bike ride
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques
  • Keep a list of what makes you "slip up" and learn from those situations

Quit Smokeless Tobacco

  • Substitute peppermints, sunflower seeds or gum

When you get the urge to smoke or use smokeless tobacco:

  • Talk to someone
  • Get busy with a task
  • Read a book
  • Find a fun diversion

Prevent Tobacco Addiction in Youth

According the American Cancer Society, most smokers become addicted to tobacco before they are legally old enough to purchase tobacco products. Because the likelihood of developing cancer increases with the duration of smoking, those who begin smoking in their youth run an even greater risk in the future.

You can help decrease smoking among young people by:

  • Lobbying for an increase in cigarette prices
  • Supporting further restrictions on public smoking
  • Encouraging counter-advertising in the media
  • Supporting clean indoor air laws and increased cigarette excise taxes have to deter tobacco use

Smoking Cessation Programs 

It's never too late to improve your health by kicking the tobacco habit. M. D. Anderson researchers conduct numerous research studies to help smokers quit. You also can make an appointment with the Cancer Prevention Center at M. D. Anderson to discuss your cancer risk by filling out an Online Self-Referral Form or calling askMDAnderson at 1-877-632-6789.

Prevention Stories

Like many longtime smokers, Karen Morris had made several attempts to give up cigarettes on her own. When she joined the Tobacco Treatment Program, she was smoking two packs a day and had been smoking for 20 years.

“My counselor gave me several suggestions for aids to quit. His support and interest in my problem definitely aided in my ability to quit smoking,” says Karen. The program also provided Karen with medication to help her resist the urge the smoke. Since joining Tobacco Treatment Program, Karen has not smoked a cigarette since March 2006.

Thanks to the counseling sessions and medication options provided by the program, Karen has developed behavioral and cognitive strategies to help her better cope with life without tobacco.

Learn more about the Tobacco Treatment Program.

Cancer Center Helps Patients Quit Smoking – M. D. Anderson offers its patients free help through its new Tobacco Treatment Program. 

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