Let us be honest that thinking about quitting smoking is much easier than taking action to quit. There are potential withdrawals, cravings, overcoming the hand-to-mouth habit, and for some quitting smoking can result in needing to find another way to ease stress.

The good news is that all the challenges attached to quitting smoking are temporary whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, or electronic nicotine delivery systems. Consider the health benefits of choosing to quit smoking despite the challenges.

  • Twenty minutes after quitting: Your heart rate drops to a normal level.
  • Twelve hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • One to nine months after quitting: Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Five years after quitting: Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  • Five to 15 years after quitting: Your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s. Your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, or esophagus is half that of a smoker’s.
  • Ten years after quitting: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of getting bladder cancer is half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of getting cervical cancer or cancer of the larynx, kidney, or pancreas decreases.
  • Fifteen years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

There may also be personal reasons for you to quit smoking, such as quitting for someone who cares about you who does not smoke, being a different role model, or giving yourself the best odds of living a longer life. Whatever reasons you choose, remind yourself of them daily.

Taking action

What works for one person may not work for another. Once you make the choice to stop smoking it is important to research and identify the tools and support systems that you believe could work for you. No one knows you better than yourself. It could be one resource or a blending of resources helping you find success. In the process, give yourself some self-compassion without giving up on your goal. It may not be a perfect straight line to success, but you can still get there. Each step you take big or small is one step closer to your goal. Below are some resources to get you off to your first step.

  • Stop into the Health Promotion and Wellness office in 187 McCormick Hall or the G Spot wellness gazebo and pick up a free QUIT-KIT. Inside you will receive the following:
    • A goal-tracking calendar to track your quitting journey
    • Toothpicks, mints, and gum to help keep your mouth busy and mind off of smoking
    • Putty to keep your hands busy
  • Talk with your doctor or visit Student Health Services about getting help with managing your quitting journey.
  • Students may also call Student Counseling Services at (309) 438-3655 to speak with a counselor about quitting. Faculty and staff counseling resources are available through the Employee Assistance Program at (866) 659-3848.
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms for quitting and dealing with stress:
  • Call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937) to receive cessation counseling over the phone.

Choosing to stop smoking is a courageous decision because it means you are ready to make a change and do the work to get there. As Tony Robbins once said, “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”