Getting Help to Quit Smoking

At Karmanos Cancer Institute, we understand that it is your choice to quit smoking. However, it is a fact that smoking increases your risk for almost every type of cancer, not just lung cancer. Smoking is also harmful to the people around you, especially children. Second-hand smoke, or passive smoking, is linked to many diseases and health problems, including cancer, lung diseases, asthma, ear infections and increased illness in non-smokers.

General benefits of quitting smoking

  • An immediate improvement to your health
  • A better sense of smell and taste, better physical stamina and fewer wrinkles
  • You will also feel better about yourself, set a good example for children and save money

    Benefits of quitting smoking for cancer patients

    • Increases chances of surviving the disease
    • Affords a better response to chemotherapy and radiation
    • Reduces the side effects of treatment and allows for quicker healing after surgery
    • Reduces the chance of a cancer recurrence or an additional cancer diagnosis

Quitting Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your family and friends to support you. Ask your spouse or friends to give up candy or another habit in support of you.
  • The urge for a cigarette will pass. Wait 20 minutes. Distract yourself with a healthy snack or a short walk.
  • Most smokers try to quit several times before they are successful. Just because you have quit before doesn’t mean you won’t be successful this time
  • Chew gum, eat sugar-free candy, chew on a straw or cinnamon stick when you have cravings
  • Call a friend or support person when you experience the need to smoke
  • Keep something in your hands like a stress ball, coffee stirrers, etc.
  • Talk to other ex-smokers to see what helped them quit smoking

Did you know?

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection
  • 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s
  • 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 –15 years after quitting.
  • 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas decrease.
  • 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.

Many insurance companies provide coverage for quit tobacco programs & medications. Check with your individual provider. Medicaid recipients call 888-367-6557 to check your plan coverage.

For more information call 1-800-KARMANOS and ask for the Patient & Community Education Department or send an email to

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy involves the use of products that provide low doses of nicotine but do not contain the toxins found in smoke. NRT doubles a smoker's chance of quitting smoking. Below is a current list of the seven medications approved by the FDA to assist people in quitting tobacco. Please consult with a doctor before starting any new medication. It is important to read all directions for these products. They must be used correctly in order to increase your success in quitting.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy Types 

Patch (Nicoderm, Nicoderm CQ) – Provides a specific dose of nicotine through the skin. User switches patches to lower doses over a few weeks period, eventually weaning off the patch. Several types and strengths are available.

Lozenges (Commit Lozenges) – Newest form of NRT. Available in two strengths. Used typically over a 12-week period, decreasing the number of lozenges used in a day over the 12 weeks.

Gum (Nicorette) – A fast acting NRT that delivers nicotine through the membrane of the mouth. A good alternative to the patch for people with sensitive skin. Available in two strengths. Usually used for one-three months but no more than six months.

Quitting Tobacco Medication

Varenicline (Chantix) - A medication that helps people quit smoking by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain, thereby reducing the withdrawal symptoms and decreasing the pleasure derived from smoking.

Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) - An extended release antidepressant that helps reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It is often used in conjunction with nicotine replacement therapies. Learn more about Bupropion.

Nicotine Inhaler – Delivers nicotine to the mouth by puffing on the inhaler. Many who have used it feel it is the closest alternative to a cigarette. Can be the most expensive of the NRTs.

Nasal Spray – Provides immediate relief to withdrawal symptoms by delivering nicotine through the nose into the bloodstream. Easy to use. Typically prescribed for three months but no longer than six months.

Many insurance companies provide coverage for quit tobacco programs & medications.  Check with your individual provider.  Medicaid recipients call 888-367-6557 to check your plan coverage.

More information on Nicotine Replacement therapies and other medications.

Resources to Help You Quit Smoking

There are a variety of resources designed to help people quit tobacco.  Research shows that most people who have quit long term have sought support to deal with the physical and mental cravings of tobacco.

Freedom from Smoking Virtual Classes

At the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, we understand that it is the patient’s choice to quit smoking. Quitting tobacco improves cancer diagnosis and treatment for the health of all cancer patients, and it is not just for lung cancer patients. Although we recognize that quitting tobacco may be another frightening challenge, it is extremely important for your health and well-being that you quit smoking. Take comfort in knowing that there is help. Whatever your reason for quitting, cost, your health, or for your loved ones, you have to make the choice to quit and do it for a reason that is important to you. Start the New Year off right!

Enroll in the American Lung Association, Freedom from Smoking virtual class on Microsoft Teams. There will be weekly classes on Mondays from 4-5:30 p.m. beginning November 7, 2022, to December 19, 2022.

To register, visit our events page and search "Freedom from Smoking."

For additional information, please contact Patient Community Education at 313-576-9288 or email

Michigan Tobacco Quitline

Free telephone assistance with a trained tobacco counselor

  • Free telephone coaching with trained counselors
  • Individualized quit plans
  • Quit guides & tool kits
  • Assistance with obtaining medications to help you quit

To enroll

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

 Register online

Online Resources

Helpful tips, printable resources, and online quit communities 

  • American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking – Includes information about how to quit, what to expect, how to stay a quitter, and information on stress and weight gain.
  • – Provides information and resources on quitting, ability to chat online with a National Cancer Institute representative, and a list of smoking cessation studies.

Local Program & Resources

Many insurance companies provide coverage for quit tobacco programs & medications. Check with your individual provider.  Medicaid recipients call 888-367-6557 to check your plan coverage.

For more information, or to schedule a lung cancer or tobacco & cancer presentation in your community, please contact the Community & Supportive Services Department at 1-800-KARMANOS (1-800-527-6266) or

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