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Chronic Lung Disease: Tips for Quitting Smoking

Cigarette smoke damages lung tissue and irritates airways, which makes breathing harder. Smoking also damages cilia (tiny hairs) in the airways, so the cilia can’t do their job of clearing mucus, dirt, and germs from the lungs. It’s never too late to quit smoking. Your health will start to improve on the same day you stub out your last cigarette.

Nicotine patch and nicotine gum.

You don’t have to quit alone

You may be more likely to quit for good if you seek support from others.

  • Talk with your doctor about your plans to quit. Ask about medicines that can help. Some contain nicotine and some do not. Some are available by prescription. You can buy others over-the-counter. These medicines help control the desire to use tobacco and the uncomfortable symptoms people have when they try to quit. Others gradually lessen the level of nicotine in the body. Your healthcare provider can tell you about all the choices available including:

    • Oral medicines such as bupropion or varenicline

    • Nicotine replacement therapy such as gum, lozenge, a patch, inhaler, or nasal spray

  • Join a support group or get advice from an ex-smoker.

  • Ask other smokers in your household to quit with you. 

Tips for quitting smoking

There isn’t one right way to stop smoking. Everyone quits in his or her own way. Some of these tips may help:

  • Make a list of reasons you want to quit. Keep this list and read it often.

  • Pick a date to quit smoking. Then stick to it.

  • List the things that make you want to smoke. Think of ways to avoid these triggers.

  • Set goals for yourself, such as going for a week without smoking. Reward yourself when you meet your goals.

  • If you don’t quit the first time, keep trying! Many people have to try more than once before they stop smoking for good.


For more information

  • smokefree.gov/talk-to-an-expert

  • National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline: 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848)

Online Medical Reviewer: Akin, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell art team.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2014
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