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Quit-Smoking Tools: Help for Kicking Your Habit

If you're a smoker and you need some more reasons to quit, take a look at what the U.S. Surgeon General has to say: If you stop now, you'll have a better quality of life and more years to live it.

As you probably already know, quitting smoking isn't easy. But, millions of other people have done it, and you can, too. Smoking-cessation aids, such as those listed here, can increase your chance of success:

  • Quit lines. When you call a quit line, you can talk with someone who's trained to help people quit smoking. It's free, and you can call almost any time. Find a quit line by calling the American Cancer Society.

  • Nicotine patches. They give you a measured dose of nicotine through your skin to fight cravings. And, you can buy patches without a prescription. Several types and strengths are available. The one you choose depends on your body size and how much you smoked.

  • Nicotine gum. This fast-acting form of nicotine replacement doesn't require a prescription. And, it comes in two strengths: 2 mg and 4 mg. Chew the gum slowly until it tastes peppery. Then, place the gum against your cheek. Alternate chewing it and placing it next to your cheek for about 20 to 30 minutes. But, don't eat or drink anything when using the gum. This reduces nicotine absorption. Scheduling your doses throughout the day may be more effective for calming cravings.

  • Nicotine nasal spray. A prescription nasal spray delivers nicotine quickly to the bloodstream. So, it immediately relieves withdrawal symptoms. The spray offers a sense of control over cravings, and most smokers using it report great results. But, it can cause sneezing and watery eyes because it tastes peppery. The FDA recommends using it only for up to six months.

  • Nicotine inhalers. Using this prescription device is similar to smoking a cigarette. When you puff on the inhaler, a cartridge inside the plastic tube gives off nicotine. But, the medication doesn't go into your lungs. It's delivered to your mouth for quick absorption.

  • Nicotine lozenges. These over-the-counter lozenges also are available in 2-mg and 4-mg strengths. You decide which dose to take based on when you usually had your first cigarette of the day. You'll absorb less nicotine if you eat or drink while using a lozenge.

  • Zyban. This non-nicotine prescription medication affects chemicals that are responsible for cravings, so it reduces withdrawal symptoms. It contains the active ingredient bupropion, which is used as an antidepressant. You can use it alone or with nicotine-replacement therapy.

  • Chantix. This oral prescription medication contains the active ingredient varenicline tartrate It reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms and decreases the pleasure you get from smoking. Side effects can include changes in mood or behavior, so it is important to use this medication under medical supervision.

Quit-smoking aids can help you have a smoke-free future. But, it's also smart to develop a plan to change your personal habits and set up a network of emotional support. Turn to family and friends— and your doctor. He or she can give you valuable information on quitting.