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It’s your year to quit. Helpful tips to become smoke-free.

 Kelly Hurley      Shelley Hewitson

By Kelly Hurley and Shelley Hewitson of Horizon Health Network's Centre of Excellence for Clinical Smoking Cessation

If you have decided this is going to be your year to quit smoking, congratulations! It is the single most important thing you can do for your health.

If you have been a tobacco user for a long time, you may feel like it isn't worth quitting because the damage to your body has already been done. Fortunately, that argument simply doesn't stand up.

healthy living imageResearch has found that 24 hours after quitting smoking your chance of having a heart attack starts to decrease, and after one week your food will begin to taste better. The pesky smoker's cough, along with sinus congestion and shortness of breath, will start going away after a month, and five years after giving up smoking your chance of dying from lung cancer will be half what it was when you smoked.

A few quick and useful tips to help you along your journey to becoming smoke-free:

  • Caffeine in the body of a tobacco user is metabolized at about twice the rate of a non-smoker. The result is a high tolerance to caffeine.  When you are quitting smoking, the amount of caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea or cola) you are used to drinking might now result in your feeling jittery and/or anxious. To minimize this effect, cut back your caffeine consumption by half. Note: by consuming less caffeine, you will have the added benefit of being healthier, and by choosing to quit smoking, you'll be making two healthy lifestyle choices at once. 
  • Dealing with Stress: Stress is a normal part of everyday life. Many people smoke because they believe it helps them cope with stress. The truth is smoking can actually increase stress because nicotine causes your heart rate and blood pressure to rise.   
  • Cravings that come with smoking are common. Their intensity usually decreases over a 2-3 week period. It is important to remember that those feelings normally last 3-5 minutes. Try to keep yourself occupied during that time and the craving should pass. The good news is that each day you have without a cigarette will get easier and your cravings and withdrawal symptoms will decrease day by day.

  • Coughing: Many who quit smoking find they cough more the first few weeks after quitting. This is your lungs busy at work attempting to self-clean. Consider it a sign that you're getting healthier. 

FamilyIt is important not to become discouraged if you hit a few speed bumps along the way. Quitting smoking may be one of the most difficult things that you will ever do, but it will also be one of the most important, and rewarding. If you are not successful the first time you try to quit, keep trying. A great predictor of future success is the number of previous quit attempts; keep going until you quit for life!

Support is available to help you on this journey. Please reach out to your health care provider or contact Smokers' Helpline, a free provincial service offering support and information. Call 1-877-513-3333 toll free or visit

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