Tobacco - Free Partnership
Tobacco use remains the number one cause
of preventable deaths in American,
killing 440,000 Americans annually –
more than murders, alcohol, illicit
drugs, motor vehicles, suicide,
homicides, and AIDS combined. According
to the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance Survey, 17.5% of Palm Beach
County’s adult population smokes
cigarettes. Research shows that 70% of
current tobacco users want to quit.
Combination a cessation program (such as
a group class or telephone counseling
via the Florida Quitline) with
pharmacotherapy (such as the nicotine
patch or other products) greatly
increases success rates.
Why Do People Use Tobacco?
With what is known about how tobacco
damages the body, people may wonder why
some individuals continue to smoke. Keep
in mind, nicotine is a drug – a drug
that is more addictive than heroine.
Many people continue to use tobacco
because of this strong addiction to
nicotine. Others still will state that
they use tobacco products out of habit;
in social settings, to relieve stress,
to relax, or because they love the
Effects of Tobacco Use
There’s no question about it – tobacco
is extremely hazardous to one’s overall
Benefits of Cessation
Some people think benefits to quitting
only occur years after you have done so
– this is not true! The timeline below
lists just some of the immediate
benefits to cessation.
In 20 minutes, your blood
pressure and pulse rate
decrease, and the body
temperature of your hands and
At 8 hours, the carbon monoxide
level in your blood decreases to
normal levels, thus allowing
your blood oxygen level to
return to normal as well.
At 24 hours, your risk of having
a heart attack decreases.
At 48 hours, your sense of taste
and smell is enhanced.
Between 2 weeks and 3 months,
circulation improves, phlegm
production decreases, and
coughing and wheezing don’t
occur as often. Lung function
increases significantly within a
In 1 to 9 months, coughs, sinus
congestion, fatigue and
shortness of breath decrease as
you continue to see significant
improvement in lung function.
Cilia, tiny hair-like structures
that move mucus out of the
lungs, regain normal function.
In 1 year, risk of coronary
heart disease and heart attack
is reduced to half that of a
Between 5 and 15 years after
quitting, your risk of having a
stroke returns to that of a
In 10 years, your risk of lung
cancer drops, though it remains
higher than that of a
non-smoker. Additionally, your
risk of cancer of the mouth,
throat, esophagus, bladder,
kidney and pancreas decrease.
In 15 years, your risk of
coronary heart disease and heart
attack in similar to that of
people who have never smoked.
How to Handle Nicotine Withdrawal and
Some people experience nicotine
withdrawal and cravings once they quit.
Keep in mind that not everyone
experiences nicotine withdrawal and
cravings, and not everyone experiences
all of the symptoms. Here are a list of
symptoms that may occur, and methods to
relieve their discomfort.
Walks, hot baths, relaxation, NRT
Naps, time-management, getting eight
hours of sleep
Relaxation; avoidance of caffeine
after 3 PM
Drink adequate fluids (especially
Lack of concentration
Incorporate fresh fruits and
vegetables into your diet. Be sure to
have the recommended fiber intake and
drink at least 64-ounces of water.
Drink water; have low-fat,
nutritious snacks such as nuts, fruits,
Cravings for cigarette
Wait – think about why you are
craving a cigarette at this moment. Is
it the time of day when you would
normally smoke? Are you nervous? Bored?
Take a short walk outside or engage in
an activity to take your mind off the
desire. The urge for a cigarette
normally lasts only for a few minutes.
Planning Your Quit Strategy
Like most things in life, you must plan
to quit in order to be successful at it.
Additionally, you must want to quit
using tobacco. Having a plan ensure that
you know how to handle situations where
tobacco is present and cravings for
tobacco, making you less likely to
Decide why it is important for you to quit. This needs to be
a personal decision for yourself because
let’s be honest – how likely are you to
quit only because your doctor told you
to do so? Reason such as “I don’t want
to develop lung cancer” and “I want to
be able to play in the park with my
children without getting tired” are good
reasons. Generic reasons such as “for my
health” and “to save money” often make
it hard for you to visualize exactly why
you want to quit.
Use the buddy system. Quitting is much easier when you have
someone to help you through the process.
Your buddy will be vital in helping
through those tough times when you are
thinking about having a cigarette. If
your buddy is a tobacco user who is also
looking to quit, you will be just as
valuable to them. Often times, just
talking to your buddy will help the
Set a date and write it down. By writing it down, you are
holding yourself accountable. This also
allows you to properly prepare for
Inform family and friends of your decision to quit. Informing
family, friends, and coworkers of your
intent to quit will provide extra
encouragement and support.
Get rid of tobacco paraphernalia. Discard of your cigarettes,
lighters, match books, and ashtrays.
Clean out your car and wash all of your
Establish a reward system for yourself. Having mini-rewards
will provide encouragement and reinforce
the fact that you can accomplish a
tobacco-free life. Reward yourself for
refraining from tobacco use for an hour,
one day, one week, one month, two
months, etc. The reward can be something
as small as allowing yourself to sleep
in on the weekends, or something as big
as a Caribbean getaway (using the money
you saved from not purchasing tobacco).
Begin an exercise routine. Having an overall healthy
lifestyle will make it less likely that
you will engage in tobacco use again, as
it impairs lung capacity and athletic
Where to get help
The Florida Department of Health’s
Quitline provides eight weeks of free
nicotine replacement therapy to Florida
residents ages 18 and up. Free telephone
counseling is available to Florida
residents ages 11 and up. For more
(1-888-822-6669) or visit
Palm Beach County
800 Clematis Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Janiece Davis, MPH
Tobacco Prevention Specialist