Why Quit?

Quit for Your Health

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the US and in N.C. If that's not enough reason to quit, then consider the following:

It is important to know the difference between wanting to quit and needing to quit. Most people know that they need to quit, and are aware of the health effects of tobacco use.

  • Identify reasons you want to quit. To improve your health, for a loved one, so that you can enjoy playing sports, to take back control of your life...anything that motivates you. This can remind you why you want to quit.
  • Get support. Quitting is hard and any support that you can get can make it easier. Whether from a family member, a friend, or by calling QuitlineNC, you can get the support you need to help you quit using tobacco. Success rates are much higher for tobacco users who have support while trying to break their addiction.
  • Make a plan. Start by setting a quit date and tell your family, friends and co-workers so that they can support you in your attempt to quit using tobacco products. Think about the challenges you will face and how you can handle these challenges. If you need help making a plan QuitlineNC can help.
  • Get rid of the temptation. Remove all tobacco products from your environment.

Within 20 Minutes of Quitting...

  • Within 20 minutes after you smoke that last cigarette, your body begins a series of changes that continue for years.
  • 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate drops.
  • 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal.
  • Two weeks to three months after quitting, your heart attack risk begins to drop. Your lung function begins to improve.
  • One to nine months after quitting, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • One year after quitting, your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
  • Five years after quitting, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker's five to 15 years after quitting.
  • Ten years after quitting, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker's. Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.
  • Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker's.
  • View ordering information for a poster 
  • View all CDC publications

The Benefits of Quitting: Compared to people who smoke, your...

  • Stroke risk is reduced to that of a person who never smoked after five to 15 years of not smoking.
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus risks are halved five years after smoking.
  • Cancer of the larynx risk is reduced after quitting.
  • Coronary heart disease risk is cut by half one year after quitting and is nearly the same as someone who never smoked 15 years after quitting.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease risk of death is reduced after you quit.
  • Lung cancer risk drops by as much as half ten years after quitting.
  • Ulcer risk drops after quitting.
  • Bladder cancer risk is halved a few years after quitting.
  • Peripheral artery disease goes down after quitting.
  • Cervical cancer risk is reduced a few years after quitting.
  • Low birth weight baby risk drops to normal if you quit before pregnancy or during your first trimester.
  • View ordering information for a poster
  • View all CDC publications

The purpose of the Help for Smokers and Other Tobacco Users booklet is to inform you of ways you can get help to quit smoking and using other tobacco. It explains the best ways for you to quit - and quit for good. All the information in the booklet is based on scientific research about what will give you the best chances of quitting.

Quit to Protect Others from Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke (SHS) has been linked with health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, lung disease, lung cancer and some other cancers. Childhood exposure to SHS can lead to upper respiratory infections, breathing problems, ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and even behavioral problems and learning difficulties. Pregnant women exposed to SHS have increased risk of having a baby born too small, too soon, or having a baby die of SIDS.

Exposure to SHS is a preventable cause of many illnesses and deaths. Policies to stop smoking indoors reduce exposure to SHS, can reduce the number of cigarettes smoked each day and increase the number of smokers who quit.

In fact, many smokers choose to quit in order to protect their family members, friends, co-workers and others from the health hazards of SHS.

What Is Secondhand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the smoke that comes from a lit tobacco product, including the smoke that comes from the burning end and the smoke exhaled by the person smoking.

Health Hazards

The Surgeon General's Report on Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke (2006)

The US Surgeon General released a report in 2006 called The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke which explains all the known health risks of SHS and states, "there is no known safe level of exposure to SHS."