Today is a great day to quit smoking!

Many ex-smokers say quitting smoking may be the hardest thing you ever do, but it may be one of the best things you ever do as well.

The benefits of quitting smoking begin really quickly -- right after your last cigarette! You might be surprised to know within just 20 minutes your blood pressure drops. Just 12 hours later, the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood drops, allowing more oxygen into your body, which can help reduce wrinkles and prevent premature aging associated with smoking. Although quitting smoking can be a challenge in the long term, those short-term benefits can help keep you going along your journey to becoming a non-smoker. 

The longer you stay smoke-free, the more things happen within your body. Breathing becomes easier, and you’re no longer harming others with second-hand smoke either. Eventually, your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes decreases to that of a non-smoker!

While there are many benefits to quitting, cravings and withdrawal symptoms often make it difficult for those trying to quit. You may still experience strong cravings for nicotine and even the behavior of smoking, because you associate a cigarette with certain behaviors.

One of the key ways to cope with these issues is to identify your triggers (learned habits) and prepare for those situations. For example, some people may find that drinking their morning coffee leaves them with a strong urge to smoke. By simply substituting tea, they find that this is enough to break the connection with cigarettes and reduce their morning craving. As you quit, it will be important to identify the things that make you want to smoke and to keep on top of these things.

One of the best things you can do is get support. The people close to you should be aware that you are trying to quit, and there are some things they can do to support you.

Quit smoking programs are also a great help to people attempting to quit. If you are interested in getting help to quit smoking, the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at The Miriam Hospital is one resource that can help you reach that goal.  Call 401-793-8770 to talk with us about how you can make your health a priority!


Ernestine Jennings, PhD

Dr. Jennings is a clinical psychologist and she conducts research in behavioral medicine, with a focus on smoking cessation and physical activity. She practices in the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam Hospital.