by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Luane Rabello (Graduate Research Assistant) 

I want to quit smoking: where do I start?

       First step is to recognize your reasons to stop smoking: health related problems, saving money, protecting your loved ones from secondary and tertiary harms, or any other personal reason you might have. Write them down and put them in a visible place.

What comes next?

Establishing a plan to quit:

  • Stopping gradually or at once: if you decide to stop gradually it is important to schedule a due date to quit, ideally within the next 2 weeks. This can be a day that has some meaning to you (like a birthday or a holiday) or simply a day of the week when you have less stress.

  • Seeking social support: it is important that people you live with or meet daily are aware of your decision to stop smoking so they can give you the support needed in the quitting process.

  • Controlling the cigarette packs:  if you are going to stop gradually is important to reduce the number of cigarettes available per day (buying a fewer number of cigarettes). If you are stopping at once it is important to dispose your cigarette pack.

  • Remove from your environment –house and car- any smoking related paraphernalia or things that remind you of smoking, like ashtrays, lighter, etc. Clean your environment for a fresh air.

  • If you smoke inside home or in your work building, go outside every time you feel the urge to smoke: it will make the smoking time harder and help you decrease the number of cigarettes per day.

  • Decide if you are going to use medication or nicotine replacement therapy. Consult a pharmacist, medical doctor, or counselor for the right medication and dosage.

by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Marshall Motsenbocker (Graduate Research Assistant) 

Break down current stressors: 


Intention is required to manage our difficult thoughts and emotions. One way we can decrease the control anxiety has over our lives is to actually take time and reflect on our thoughts and feelings, as well as how we are coping with them. The process of sitting in our thoughts and emotions rather than constantly distracting ourselves might seem counterintuitive to managing internal states, but it’s actually an effective solution.  

What is within my control? What is outside of my control? 

“Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference” R. Niebuhr.  













Engage in self-care:


Self-care activities are restful and energizing. Virtual work is now the norm, which leads to our work hours often becoming extended. Excessive screen time can be exhausting. It’s important to know what recharges you both individually and with others. As possible, set aside at least one full day of rest, where you are catering to your own wants and needs. 

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Although social media is a way in which we can maintain updates, overuse and reliance on it can lead to feeling isolated. To manage stress, it is important to enjoy time with others in person (following current COVID-19 recommendations). Schedule time to connect with important others. Reflect on which connections allow for fun and relaxation, deep discussions, sound advice, and support.   

Physical health:


Physical activities are an effective way to release stress and pent-up energy. Try to engage in at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity  daily. Get creative with your physical health! Whether it’s taking walks, dancing, going to the gym (safely), or working out at home, maintaining our physical health also improves our mental health! Free virtual classes are also offered.  


by Dr. Virmarie Correa-Fernandez (LABHRT director) & MS Luane Rabello (Graduate Research Assistant) 
  • Stop smoking can add years to your lifetime (9 years on average if you quit before the age of 40) [2];

  • Improves your blood levels of oxygen and your lung function (coughing and shortness of breath decrease) [2];

  • Reduces your risk of having coronary disease, stroke and lung cancer [2];

  • Improves your oral health and your skin;

  • Helps you saving money;

  • Improves your mental health;

  • Reduces your risk of getting severe complications when contaminated by the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) [3]. 

How to deal with withdrawal symptoms along the process?!

It is important to understand that the first 30 days are usually the most challenging when you stop smoking. Some withdrawals symptoms can occur such as: irritability, mood swings, insomnia, sweating, shaking hands, headache, anxiety, drowsiness, among others.Dealing with all these symptoms might be hard, but keep in mind they are transitory and part of the recovery process. In order to help during this time you can take approved medications, including nicotine replacement therapy, do physical activity, do breathing exercises, improve your social support, try yoga and meditation, improve your diet with healthy foods and keep in mind your reasons to quit smoking.






















[2]Drope J, Schluger N, Cahn Z, Drope J, Hamill S, Islami F, Liber A, Nargis N, Stoklosa M.(2018). The Tobacco Atlas. Atlanta: American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies. Available at:

[3]Mungia R & Valdez DN. (2020). Smoking, Vaping, and the Benefits Cessation in Times of COVID-19: A Public Health Perspective.  1:618364. Doi: 10.3389/fdmed.2020.618364.

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