Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the CDC, tobacco use accounts for more than 480,000 deaths every year. In other words, 1 in 5 people die from the consequences of smoking cigarettes. Mortality rates among individuals who smoke are three times higher than among those who do not smoke.
While the number of adults who smoke has dramatically decreased in the last decade (down from 20.9% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2021), it is still the case that 12 of every 100 adults still smoke cigarettes. This equates to over 28 million people. The Surgeon General of the United States estimates that this number is closer to 34 million people.
The majority of people who smoke do want to quit. A 2015 study from the CDC shows that over 68% of people who smoke want to quit. 30-50% of adults who smoke have tried to quit before. Unfortunately, only about 7.5% are able to succeed.
Quitting smoking is easier said than done. For many people, it may take upwards of 30 attempts before the habit is “kicked”. This process can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Not only do cigarettes contain addictive chemicals that make you crave them, but your brain and body actually adapt to using them. This means that when you try to quit, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. For some, these reactions are strong enough to either go back to smoking or avoid quitting altogether.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
Irritability and frustration
Jumpiness or restlessness
Increased hunger and weight gain
These symptoms can be very intense. However, withdrawal symptoms will not harm you. In the long run, the benefits of smoking cessation far outweigh the moments of discomfort you may experience while trying to quit.