Medically Approved

Why the fuss over quitting smoking is real

Woman smoking

Optum Perks Author

By Optum Perks Author

There are lots of excuses you can make to yourself as to why you should not consider quitting smoking.  I mean, everyone says it's hard first of all. Not to mention, all your friends still smoke.

However, according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. We all know about cancer, but it causes and worsens so many other conditions as well, and the CDC says 480,000 people die from smoking each year. So why are you still doing it?!

According to doctors, quitting smoking doesn't just provide long-term benefits to your health. The changes to health start in less than an hour.

For example, according to, "Your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet" return to normal within 20 minutes.  Also from that website... within twelve hours, your blood oxygen and carbon monoxide levels return to normal.

Within the next 48 hours to a week, other things happen like nerve endings start to regrow (!), and your "sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal." Did you even know these things were happening in your body?

Over the next three months, even more improvements take place with one of the most important being that your heart attack risk drops.  Also, your lung function and circulation both improve. These things are huge.

Depending on the amount of damage your body has taken, it might take a year or several years even for other changes, but check out this timetable on! There are so many improvements your body will make just by not having your daily smokes.

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Many people who decide to quit smoking develop a "Quit Plan." A Quit Plan identifies challenges that might happen during the process and how to achieve them.  Because of the inevitable withdrawal that will happen when quitting, medication is a great thing to have on the plan.

There are two types of medication for quitting smoking. The most common medications are nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).  With NRT, you taper down your nicotine gradually, which lessens your need to smoke.  Some of the NRT methods like patches, gum, and lozenges are over-the-counter, but there are also prescription inhalers and nasal sprays that do this.

If NRT doesn't work, there are also prescription medications you can take. The first is Bupropion, or Zyban®. It reduces your need to smoke, and you can still take NRTs.  There are possible mood side effects, and GlaxoSmithKline recommends to use Zyban with a patient support program. "It is important to participate in the behavioral program, counseling, or other support program your healthcare professional recommends."

The second prescription medication is Varenicline, also known as Chantix®. Chantix also reduces the need to smoke, but it also blocks the effects of nicotine from cigarettes if the user starts smoking again.  It is usually taken for three months or longer if needed to continue cessation. Mood problems have also been reported as side effects, and it is not known if it is safe to take with NRTs.

So hey, if you decide to quit smoking, you should try using searchRx, where anyone can search, find and save on over 50K medications! Just try typing in the medication name or even nicotine, and you will get results for discounts in your area.