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Over 40 million Americans smoke cigarettes and add to that the growing number of electronic cigarette and vape users and it’s no secret that nicotine continues to control the lives of many.

Each year, 70% of smokers want to quit. But almost half who try on their own do not succeed. Quitting is not easy, but with the support, resources and alternatives offered today, it is possible. Once you’ve determined it’s time to quit once and for all, there are steps you can take to keep you on track and lead you to a healthier, smoke-free life.

Make a plan

Planning is an important part of any recovery effort. Without a solid plan, it can be easy to fall back into old habits.

The first step is to choose a quit date. This will serve as an important milestone on your journey to stop smoking. You then need to anticipate the challenges you will face the first few days and weeks, including nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, depressed mood, changes in appetite and difficulty concentrating.

Prepare for these challenges and plan different hobbies and activities you can incorporate into your life to keep your mind off smoking.

Know the alternatives

If you have a hard time quitting cold turkey, know that there are alternative products available to aid in the process, such as nicotine replacement therapies.

Some of the most common products include nicotine gum, patches, sprays and lozenges. These products can help curb nicotine cravings without tobacco, but keep in mind that these tools are designed to be a temporary step on the road to ditching nicotine altogether.

There are also behavioral therapy options available to help you deal with the mental stress that comes with nicotine withdrawal. Many people find that talking to a therapist and identifying triggers can be helpful for staying on track and avoiding situations that hinder quitting.

If you don’t vape, don’t start. And if you do vape, quit. The benefits of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation are inconclusive. And there have been recent reports of serious health complications — and deaths — tied to using these devices. In fact, the CDC is now investigating what it calls an “outbreak of lung illness” among e-cigarette users.

Turn to family and friends for support

Being open with family and friends about your intentions to quit smoking can motivate you to stick with it and provide you with support. Family members may even decide to quit together, which is a great support system.

Remember why you chose to quit

The process will be tough, especially in the beginning, but everyone has a reason he or she finally decides to quit for good.

Keep in mind why you chose to quit – whether it’s your family, your health or whatever else motivates you to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Remember your “why” during the tough times and keep pushing forward with your end goal in sight.


UCF Smoking Cessation Support – On-campus 5-week support group that includes free nicotine replacement therapy. Email to register for the next session.

Tobacco Free Florida –, 1-877-U-CAN-NOW

Our Health Tips on recovery topics this September are in support of National Recovery Month. Learn more about UCF health and wellness services, including recovery support, at

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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