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The Reality of Quitting Smoking

Smoking tobacco is the number one risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung conditions. However, many people struggle with quitting even after they have been diagnosed with these conditions. The reality is that while quitting smoking cannot reverse the damage to the lung, it can prevent future damage from taking place and increase your quality of life and your body’s ability to fight the disease.

Quitting smoking can be done. Having realistic expectations about the quitting process will increase your odds. Smokefree.gov provides a number of hurdles smokers can expect to face, but it is important to remember that they can all be overcome.

The reality is that…

  • Quitting smoking is hard.

However, millions of people have done it. You are not alone in this journey.

  • I will crave cigarettes.

But cravings will pass. Most only last a few minutes, and over time the urge to smoke will become weaker and happen less often.

  • Withdrawal is uncomfortable.

But it is not painful. Withdrawal typically only lasts a short time and is nothing that cannot be managed.

  • I might gain weight.

Gaining a few pounds after quitting is normal. However, exercise and healthy eating can stop most, if not all, of this weight gain. These healthy habits are also a welcome distraction from cravings and withdrawals.

  • Everything I do reminds me of smoking.

Smoking has been part of your daily life, just as much as drinking coffee and going to work each day. However, every day that you spend as a nonsmoker will help make new routines that don’t include cigarettes.

  • Smoking is a part of me.

Smoking feels good because you have a lot of practice being a smoker. But you have years ahead of you to practice being a nonsmoker.


While this process will not be easy, it’s important to remember that the benefits of quitting are far greater than the discomforts of recovery. It’s never too late to quit smoking. The American Lung Association and Smokefree.gov provide a number of resources to help you in your journey to quit smoking.

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