Tobacco Cessation is the process of helping people end tobacco use and change behaviors around smoking or other tobacco use.

Short-Term and Long-Term Benefits of Stopping Smoking


Within 20 minutes after you smoke your last cigarette, your body begins a series of changes that continue for years. After stopping smoking for:

  • 20 Minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop. (Don’t panic—this is a good thing!)
  • 12 Hours: The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal.
  • 2 Weeks – 3 Months: Your heart attack risk begins to drop.
  • 1–9 Months: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease, and your lungs start to work better, lowering your risk of lung infection.
  • 1 Year: Your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  • 5 Years: Your risk of having a stroke is the same as someone who doesn’t smoke.
  • 10 Years: Your risk of dying of lung cancer is half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas also decreases.

Fact vs. Myth


  • Myth: Persons with mental illness and substance use disorders can’t stop smoking.

Fact: Persons with mental illness and substance use disorders can successfully stop using tobacco at rates similar to the general population.

  • Myth: Persons with mental illness and substance use disorders don’t want to stop smoking.

Fact: Most people with mental illness and substance use disorders want to stop smoking and want information on cessation services and resources. Smokers are more than twice as likely to stop for good when they stop with the help of cessation medications and extra coaching and support.

  • Myth: Stopping smoking is a low priority problem; patients and medical providers have more important things to worry about.

Fact: Smoking is a leading cause of death and disability in behavioral health populations. Rates of smoking can be as high as 90% for behavioral health populations compared to 23% in the general population. Mental health consumers can have a 25-year shorter life expectancy; a big reason for this is smoking. Tobacco use and its effects limit employment and housing and economic opportunities for consumers.

  • Myth: Tobacco is necessary for self-medication. Consumers need to smoke to manage their mental illness.

Fact: The tobacco industry has spread this myth. The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting vulnerable populations, including those with mental illness. Nicotine has powerful mood-altering effects that can change how people living with mental illness think and feel. Tobacco use can worsen mental illness. Behavioral health populations who smoke can have more severe symptoms, poorer wellbeing and functioning, increased hospitalizations, and are at greater risk of suicide.

  • Myth: Smoking cessation will threaten recovery for persons with substance use disorders.

Fact: Smoking cessation can enhance long-term recovery for persons with substance use disorders. For example, if someone stops smoking at the same time they stop drinking, they can have a 25% greater chance of staying clean and sober.

Resources for Tobacco Cessation


    SmokeFree Philly provides local resources to help you stop smoking and learn about the dangers of tobacco use and how to access free phone coaching through the PA Free Quitline Healthcare Providers.
  • 800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
    The Free Quitline provides free “quit coaching” by telephone in English and other languages. Free nicotine patches, lozenges, or gum may also be available for PA Quitline callers.
  • 1-877-TRY-NICA (1-877-879-6422)
    Nicotine Anonymous (NicA) is a 12-Step Program offering support to stop smoking or tobacco use. NicA uses 12-step recovery support to help. There are in-person, phone, and internet meetings.
  • Medicaid Benefits
    If you have Medicaid, with a prescription from your medical provider, you may get the following for as little as $1.00 per month:

    • Nicotine-Based Medications
    • Nicotine Patches
    • Nicotine Gum
    • Nicotine Lozenges

Please talk to your primary doctor if you are interested. This information is not intended as a substitute for advice from your treatment provider.

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