Smoking Cessation

General Information
Smoking cessation is good preventive health care. It is particularly important for patients suffering from a select list of health problems. This list includes angina pectoris (heart pain), heart attack, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis), stroke, dyspepsia, and osteoporosis. You are never too old to gain a benefit from stopping smoking.

Whether you regard smoking as a habit or an addiction, it is a difficult pattern of behavior to stop. There appear to be powerful biochemical urges that induce the chronic smoker to continue to light up. All approaches to smoking cessation must in one way or another address the problem of controlling these urges. What follows is a list of some methods that have worked. They do not all work for everyone. Discuss with your doctor which option might be the most effective for you.


Cold turkey.

This is the traditional approach. It requires motivation that some people misidentify as will power. Most of the techniques that follow either use some approach to enhance motivation or drugs to mute the urge to smoke.

Tapering off.

This involves gradually limiting the number of cigarettes smoked daily. One effective way to do this is to place limits on where you can smoke. Eliminate cigarettes from your car. Do not smoke at the table. Do not smoke at your desk. This is reenforcible if cigarettes are not available at that location. In fact, the fewer cigarettes that you smoke daily the easier it is to stop cold turkey.


One element of the urge to light up is a falling blood level of nicotine. Nicotine is a drug. It has harmful effects on its own, but these are limited. The tars and other elements of smoke are of greater harm than the nicotine. Patches provide a slow release of nicotine through the skin. When the blood level of nicotine does not fall precipitously, it blunts the urge to light up. By slowly changing to patches that provide lower and lower doses of nicotine, this becomes a form of tapering off. Nicotine in patch form is not safe for everyone. Consult your physician concerning the use of this cessation aid.


Nicotine-containing chewing gum may be used to keep the blood level of nicotine up, which blunts the urge to light up. It permits (and requires) you to control the timing and dose of nicotine. It is another form of tapering off.


A nicotine-containing inhaler, shaped much like a cigarette holder, is available as an additional method to deliver this drug and in tapering off.


The drug bupropion (Zyban) has been found to be helpful for some people in a program of smoking cessation. How this drug works is not known. It is best used as an adjunct with some form of nicotine replacement. The drug does have side effects and will interact with other medications. It requires a 2- to 3-month course of the drug to be effective. You should consult your physician concerning the safety and possible benefits before attempting to use this drug.

Behavioral modification.

Group sessions are a helpful adjunct to any of the stop smoking program methods. Hypnosis may also be useful for selected individuals.

Notify Our Office If ...

  • You wish to stop smoking or to enter a smoking cessation program.