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Cessation of Smoking

Smoking cessation can be extremely difficult.

Nicotine gum can help alleviate the discomfort of quitting smoking. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Nicotine gum can help alleviate the discomfort of quitting smoking.

Cessation of Smoking

The cessation of smoking means to stop smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.

What Quitters Can Expect During Cessation

If an individual smokes for a period of time, the human body develops a tolerance to nicotine, and they can become addicted to it. As the tolerance grows, individuals want to smoke more.

Once smokers bodies reach a certain level of nicotine, they have to continue smoking in order to maintain it. As a result, most individuals experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop smoking, such as anxious feelings and physical responses. Individuals may also want to start smoking again once they experience the effects of the withdrawal symptoms.

There is no right or wrong way to quit. However, there are several factors that contribute to its success:

  • Making the decision to quit
  • Determining a date to quit and formulating an action plan
  • Managing the withdrawal symptoms
  • Controlling the desire to smoke


Some of the things individuals can do to prepare to quit include:

  • Telling family and friends they have decided to quit
  • Clearing their homes of cigarettes and ashtrays
  • Having other oral substitutes on hand gum, candy or straws


Establishing a support system attending Nicotine Anonymous, or talking with a family member or friend who has quit.

Some individuals can quit smoking through participation in support groups like Nicotine Anonymous. They practice a 12-step program patterned after the one used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Mental and Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Nicotine, the drug found in cigarettes, is very addictive. Over time, individuals become physically and emotionally addicted to nicotine. Studies indicate that individuals have to address the physical and mental aspects in order to quit smoking and end their addiction. The body reacts physically to the absence of nicotine. Mentally, the individual is focused on giving up the nicotine habit, which forces them to have to make changes in their daily behavior. If an individual smokes for any period of time, smoking has become a part of their everyday routine.

Reports from the American Cancer Society indicate that there are a variety of common withdraw symptoms, which include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Interrupted sleep


For individuals who smoke regularly, the withdrawal symptoms can start hours after the cessation of smoking begins and then peak several days later. Quitters can expect withdrawal symptoms to last from a few days to several weeks. Over a longer period of time, they can have the desire months or years after they quit. Slips and relapses can also occur.

Some use nicotine gum, a medicated gum that provides a slow, steady supply of nicotine into your system, and other medications or aids to help curb their feelings of withdrawal.

Other Common Concerns

  • Weight gain: Many experience a weight gain after they quit (generally fewer than ten pounds). ACS suggests individuals deal with the smoking habit first and then the weight issue. Eating healthfully, drinking water and walking can help shed the few extra pounds.
  • Stress: Many smokers blame stress on why they continue to smoke. When smokers quit, they have to learn alternative ways to manage their stress. Walking or another physical activity can also help to reduce stress.
  • Overall health: Individuals should notify medical professionals about present or past tobacco usage. Smoking risks a number of other health-related concerns. Whether individuals smoke or not, they should continue to take care of themselves and have regular medical checkups.

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