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What is Smoking cessation?

Smoking cessation is the act of quitting smoking.

Why it’s done

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease. Early detection of lung cancer saves lives. Learn your riskTake our free online risk assessment

Smoking and infertility

Infertility is a common problem, occurring in one out of six couples. Cigarette smoking reduces both female and male fertility.

Women and infertility:

  • Smoking has a negative effect on the ovaries and uterine wall, reducing a woman’s chance of conception. Research shows that smoking may reduce the embryo’s ability to implant in the lining of the uterus.
  • Women who smoke may experience a poor response to hormone stimulation when being treated for infertility with in-vitro fertilization or embryo transfer.
  • Heavy smokers have a higher likelihood of having abnormal vaginal bleeding than nonsmokers.
  • Women who smoke are prone to early menopause.
  • In some women infertility can be reversed after smoking cessation.

Men and infertility:                                         

  • The more men smoke, the more the ability of sperm to bind to an egg is diminished. Smoking is linked to low sperm counts and sluggish moving sperm.
  • It takes at least 21⁄2 months to see improvement in sperm count and motility after quitting.
  • Smoking can gradually and permanently damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those that carry blood to the penis. This can make it difficult to get or maintain an erection.
  • Men who quit smoking often have fewer problems achieving a normal erection.
  • When both partners smoke there is a 64% increase in miscarriages.

Smoking and pregnancy

Quitting, especially during pregnancy, can be difficult. We are here to support you and your baby. Quitting may not be easy, but with advice and guidance it is possible. Women who quit smoking before or early in pregnancy reduce the risk for several adverse outcomes. In the United States, approximately 25% of women smoke during pregnancy. Smoking before and during pregnancy is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. When women who smoke start to think about having children, they also need to think about quitting smoking.

Effects of smoking on pregnancy

Women who smoke are:

  • Twice as likely to experience a delay in conception and have 30% higher odds of being infertile.
  • Twice as likely to experience premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption and placenta previa during pregnancy.
  • At a greater risk of stillbirths, miscarriages and ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy.
  • More likely to have complications during delivery.

Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy:

  • Have a 30% greater risk of being born prematurely.
  • Are more likely to be born with low birth weight increasing their risk of illness or death. The more women smoke the higher the risk of low birth weight.
  • Are more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • May have congenital malformations such as cleft palate.
  • Are more likely to have lung problems, more colds, and coughs.
  • May have learning disabilities.
  • Are more likely to smoke when they get older because they see their parents smoking.

Many women are able to quit during pregnancy. They are motivated to quit for their babies as well as themselves. If you are pregnant and need help quitting call us at (516) 466-1980. We are here to help.

Our approach

Northwell provides state-of-the-art tobacco prevention education, cessation services and clinical research in the area of nicotine dependence. We have helped thousands of people quit smoking and we have one of the highest success rates in the United States. We work collaboratively with hospitals, clinics and physicians to ensure that patients are screened for tobacco use and provided assistance with quitting.

Northwell Health offers several programs to help you stop smoking:

  • Center for Tobacco Control, Great Neck, NY
    Thanks to the Center's leading-edge tobacco prevention, education and cessation programs, thousands of Long Islanders have quit smoking. The Center has one of the highest success rates in the U.S. for smoking cessation.
  • Tobacco Dependence Support GroupLenox Hill Hospital
    Learn important strategies that support your effort to quit smoking.
  • The Smoking Cessation Program, Staten Island University Hospital
    A comprehensive program designed to help you become a non-smoker
  • Learn to Be Tobacco FreeHuntington Hospital
    Partnering with the Suffolk County Department of Health, Huntington Hospital offers free smoking cessation workshops. Prescription medications and materials are free of charge for participants.

Call the Center for Tobacco Control today at (516) 466-1980 and schedule an appointment with us. Let us help you to live smoke-free.

How to prepare

Test your nicotine dependence

1. How soon after waking do you smoke your first cigarette?

A. Less than five minutes
B. 5-30 minutes
C. 31-60 minutes
D. More than an hour

Give yourself 3 points for A, 2 points for B, 1 point for C, and 0 points for D.

2. Do you find it difficult to refrain from smoking in places where it is forbidden?

a. Yes
b. No

Give yourself 1 point for A and 0 points for B.

3. Which cigarette would you most hate to give up?

A. First one in the morning
B. Any other

Give yourself 1 point for A and 0 points for B.

4. How many cigarettes do you smoke per day?

a. More than 30 per day
b. 21-30 per day
c. 11-20 per day
d. 10 or less per day

Give yourself 3 points for A, 2 points for B, 1 point for C, and 0 points for D.

5. Do you smoke more frequently during the first hours after waking than during the rest of the day?

a. Yes
b. No

Give yourself 1 point for A and 0 points for B.

6. Do you smoke if you are so ill that you are in bed most of the day?

a. Yes
b. No

Give yourself 1 point for A and 0 points for B.

Now add up your total points.

Heavy Nicotine Dependence: 5-6 points
Moderate Nicotine Dependence: 3-4 points
Light Nicotine Dependence: 0-2 points


Benefits and statistics

After quitting smoking for:

  • 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse decrease.
  • 8 hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are halved, oxygen levels in the blood return to normal.
  • 24 hours, carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body and the lungs start to clear out the build up of tar.
  • 72 hours, breathing becomes easier, bronchial tubes begin to relax, energy levels increase.
  • 2–12 weeks, circulation improves, making walking and running a lot easier.
  • 3–9 months, coughing, wheezing and breathing problems improve as the lungs have room for up to 10% more oxygen.
  • 1 year, the risk of heart attack is halved.
  • 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is halved.
  • 10 years, the risk of heart attack is at the same level as non-smokers.
  • 10–15 years, risks for diseases due to smoking decrease dramatically, almost to that of someone who never smoked.

Other benefits to quitting smoking

  • Smoke-free living can enhance your self-esteem. Knowing that you are taking care of your body instead of hurting it will help you feel a lot better about yourself.
  • If you've turned to cigarettes to cope with stress or anxiety, learning new and healthier ways to cope with these issues will enhance and strengthen your mental and emotional health.
  • You will feel more in control of your life—rather than cigarettes controlling you.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, the average costs of smoking are estimated to be approximately $3,391 per smoker per year. The University of Maryland Medical Center provides a Cost of Smoking Calculator for you to estimate how much you spend on smoking. Don't forget to factor in smoking paraphernalia (lighters, etc.), your higher costs for health, life, and renter's insurance, cleaning bills, and lower resale value for your car. Ask yourself what you would rather do with that money and start making plans.


According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, it is estimated that more than 45 million former smokers are living in the United States today. Here are some common myths about quitting smoking.

Myth: Tobacco use is just a bad habit.
Truth: Tobacco use is an addiction. Nicotine can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

Myth: Quitting is just a matter of willpower.
Truth: Tobacco usage is an addiction, quitting is often very difficult. A number of treatments are available that can help.

Myth: If you can't quit the first time you try, you will never be able to quit.
Truth: Quitting can be difficult but not impossible. Usually people make several tries before being able to quit for good.

Myth: The best way to quit is "cold turkey."
Truth: Research now shows that the most effective way to quit is by using a combination of practical counseling, support and FDA-approved medications.

Possible side-effects

Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine is an addictive drug, which when inhaled in cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously. Smokers not only become physically addicted to nicotine — they also associate smoking with many social activities.


  • Distract yourself
  • Take deep breaths
  • Cravings come and go quickly


  • Count to ten
  • Slow down
  • Be patient with yourself


  • Avoid beverages with caffeine after noon
  • Take a walk several hours before bed Increased appetite
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make a personal survival kit: include straws, coffee stirrers, toothpicks, licorice, gum or fresh vegetables

Inability to concentrate

  • Take a brisk walk
  • Take deep breaths of fresh air
  • Simplify your schedule for a few days

Weight gain

Some smokers, not all, gain weight after quitting. Nicotine raises the rate at which your body burns calories. When smokers stop, they burn fewer calories. Additionally, quitting smoking may make food taste and smell better. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant and without it some quitters tend to eat more, resulting in weight gain.

Weight management tips

  • Exercise. Start slow if you haven't been active and work from there. Exercise is good for maintaining your weight, and has the added benefit of releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Walking is a great place to start. Use a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. Pedometer use is associated with increased physical activity, reduced blood pressure, and minimal weight gain.
  • Drink water. It's a great craving buster and helps to flush toxins out more quickly once you stop smoking. By keeping yourself well-hydrated, you'll feel better in general. If you don't like water try other low calorie drinks.
  • Keep healthy snacks within reach. Put some good-for-you snacks together ahead of time so that when the munchies hit, you can grab something healthy.
  • Distract yourself. Urges to smoke can mimic cravings. Distract yourself and wait for the urge to pass.
  • Avoid empty calories. Junk food, such as chips, ice cream, cake and cookies are loaded with "empty" calories that have no nutritional value. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These will keep you full longer and your blood sugar stable.

Support groups

Quitting can be hard, but you're not alone. Our support groups can help you through it. Find one near you.

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