Is A 'Quit Smoking' Program The Right Choice For You?

Smoking tobacco is flat-out bad for your health — and it's no secret. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 16 million Americans have smoking-related diseases like cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and various lung diseases. Not only is smoking tobacco bad for your health, but it can also harm those around you. Secondhand smoke kills over 40,000 people who do not smoke per annum. Despite these dangers to self and others, many people find it hard to quit smoking. In fact, each year less than one in 10 adults in the United States report successfully quitting smoking (per CDC). You might wonder why smoking is so hard to quit.

The American Cancer Society notes that cigarettes have two-fold addictive properties that entail both a mental and physical aspect. The nicotine in tobacco can alter the brain and lead to a physical addiction to the substance. Once you are hooked, trying to quit can lead to withdrawal — which can produce symptoms like anxiety, headaches, irritability, loss of concentration, and poor sleep — which affects people both mentally and physically. On top of that, the habit of smoking can be tough to break behaviorally. 

The bottom line is that it is hard to quit smoking. You might wonder how you can try to quit. Here's everything you need to know about 'quit smoking' programs and if they are the right approach for you.

A holistic approach to quitting smoking

Quitting smoking on your own can be very difficult, so 'quit smoking' programs offer multiple kinds of support that can help you stop smoking for good. According to MedlinePlus, 'quit smoking' programs can actually increase your odds of quitting smoking. They are available at a variety of places like local community centers, health centers, hospitals, national organizations, and even your local workplace. Some programs offer one-on-one counseling sessions, group counseling, or even both. A typical program would offer around a minimum of 4 sessions that last longer than a half hour and are led by someone certified in smoking cessation (i.e., quitting).

U.S. News and World Report notes that the most successful 'quit smoking' programs offer ways to address both the physical and mental aspects of smoking addiction. For example, cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) — to help break the habit of smoking — may be used in conjunction with nicotine craving substitutes like patches or drugs to help ease the addiction. 

Quitting smoking is worth your while. Not only does quitting by age 40 lower your odds of dying from a smoking-related disease by 90%, you can also experience several changes in your body within weeks, — like lowered blood pressure. Within months, you'll notice improved breathing, and in years, a lowered risk of heart attack (per CVS).