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Quitting tobacco can be a long and hard process. But staying tobacco-free is the longest and most important part of it. Every day you must decide not to use tobacco today.
Each day that you don’t smoke or use tobacco is a small victory. These all add up to a huge victory over time.
Cravings are real – it’s not just your imagination. When you feel a strong urge to use tobacco you may also notice that your mood changes, and your heart rate and blood pressure may go up, too. Try these tips to get through these times, and hang in there – the cravings will get better.
You might have a lot of pent-up energy while trying to quit and stay tobacco-free. When you’re looking for something to do, think about ways you can be active and productive, or maybe you can try something new! Do some yardwork or housework. Organize or clean out a closet, a room, or even the entire basement. Get involved in a new sport or hobby you like. Some of these “distractions” can help keep you from gaining weight after quitting, too.
Find activities that are free or fairly cheap. You can find programs online or streaming through a TV or mobile app for beginner’s yoga, tai chi, or aerobics – or maybe even borrow a video or book about them from the library. A walk in a park, on a trail, a local mall, or around your neighborhood is a good way to get moving, too. You’ll notice over time that it gets easier to do these things. And watch how much better you can breathe as each day passes.
The first few weeks after quitting can be hard for anyone. And staying away from tobacco may be extra tough during a holiday season, when stress and the temptation to overindulge are often worse. Some special efforts can help you celebrate the holidays without giving in to the urge. Many of these ideas can also help throughout the year.
Celebrate being tobacco-free and try these tips to keep your mind off smoking:
If you have a weak moment and slip during the holidays, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your commitment to quit, and all the reasons you quit. Commit to going back to your quit program right away. Destroy any tobacco products you have before you’re tempted again. Try to figure out why you had a setback and learn from it.
Here are more ideas that have helped others kick their tobacco habit for good:
If you’re thinking about reaching for a cigarette or other tobacco product, reach for help instead. Ask your friends and family to encourage the new healthier you, reach out to a support group, visit Nicotine Anonymous, or call 1-800-QUIT NOW. You can always call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. We want you to quit tobacco and we’re here to help you do it!
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Betts JM, Dowd AN, Forney M, Hetelekides E, Tiffany ST. A meta-analysis of cue reactivity in tobacco cigarette smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020;9:147. [epub ahead of print].
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quit smoking. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/index.htm. Accessed October 10., 2020.
National Cancer Institute. How to handle withdrawal symptoms and triggers when you decide to quit smoking. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/withdrawal-fact-sheet. Accessed on October 10, 2020..
Rigotti N. Overview of smoking cessation management in adults. UpToDate. 2020.
Smoking Cessation Leadership Center. Behavioral health: Fact sheets and reports. Available at https://smokingcessationleadership.ucsf.edu/behavioral-health/resources/factsheets. Accessed October 10, 2020.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant women: Behavioral and pharmacotherapy interventions. 2015. Available at https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/document/RecommendationStatementFinal/tobacco-use-in-adults-and-pregnant-women-counseling-and-interventions. Accessed October 10, 2020.
Last Revised: October 10, 2020