Some people can kick their smoking habit by going cold turkey. But most find success because they asked for help. To be successful, you need to know what your options are and what to expect as your body adjusts to living without nicotine. Below are answers to some common questions you will find helpful.
Why Should I Quit?
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.
Smoking also leads to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It can also cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, and diabetes. Over time, it can narrow and damage your arteries, increase your blood pressure and make your blood clot more easily, thereby increasing your chance of having a heart attack.
Chronic smoking can shorten your lifespan and age you beyond your years.
On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Smoking can also affect your skin, your hair, your blood vessels and nearly every other part of your body. The chemicals in tobacco break down collagen and elastin, which are necessary elements that prevent wrinkles and sagging skin. Smoking also yellows tooth enamel and causes hair loss. In fact, some research shows that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to go bald.
Smoking increases risk for loss of bone density (mass)
Women in particular are at greatest risk for losing bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis and a higher risk of fractures.
Smoking linked to infertility
Smoking can even compromise your ability to conceive a baby. Women who smoke are 60 percent more likely to be infertile and also have more miscarriages and premature births than nonsmoking women.
Smoking and diabetes is not a healthy combination.
A person living with diabetes who also smokes is at greatest risk for complications. Smoking can drive up blood sugar levels and make diabetes more difficult to control, which ultimately increases the risk of complications: loss of sight, kidney failure, and circulatory disorders that can lead to amputation of certain extremities.
Now, for the good news.
If you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past and haven’t been able, you have good reason to take heart. Most studies show that people who have been successful tried multiple times. So don’t give up! Talk with your doctor because there are prescription medications and patches that may be helpful. Check out resources and programs below.
Above all, remember this:
When you quit smoking, your body starts to repair itself immediately. Within one year after you quit, your risk of developing heart disease drops by half. After 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is no greater than that of someone who never smoked. Work with your doctor to get advice about kicking the habit now.
What can I do to quit?
Examine the reasons you smoke, and start keeping track of the times and situations that trigger the habit. This will help you develop a strategy to thwart the urge. Also, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the treatments and medications now available to help you quit. And develop a network of friends and family members who will support you through the process.
Check smoking cessation tips (online courses, tools and trackers, articles, coaching). There may be classes and support groups offered through your PCP's medical group.
Smoking Cessation Resources
WHA Programs to Help You Quit
MyWHA Wellness - Quit 4 Life
Beginning with 2024 WHA plans, WHA is offering Optum's Quit for Life® program designed to give you the confidence you need to quit tobacco for good. You’ll receive a personalized Quit Plan in hand and get access to personal coaches via phone, chat, or text.
You may take part in group video sessions, and access nicotine replacement therapy, and other resources available through Quit for Life® on Rally Coach™ at no additional cost as part of your benefit plan with Western Health Advantage.
To learn more about this program, that is at no cost as part of your WHA plan, visit mywha.org/quit4life. Or, call 1-866-QUIT-4-LIFE or 1-866-784-8454 (TTY 711) or if you are ready to enroll, go to quitnow.net.
Note: Quit for Life is available to small group and individual plan members. Check your specific 2024 plan documents to see if this program is offered, as certain large employer group plans may offer this program as well. WHA services depend on your plan and eligibility at the time of service.
Last review date: January 25, 2024