UCSC is Smoke and Tobacco free, as of January 1, 2014.


How to Help a Friend Quit Smoking

Can I really help someone who is trying to quit smoking?

Yes. Once a smoker has decided to quit, he is most likely to make it when friends and family give him help and support. If your friend has not yet made up his mind to quit, you can help him think of their own reasons for quitting, set a target quit date and offer to help in any way he asks.

How do I begin?

First of all, quitting is different for each smoker. So, ask your friend how you can be most helpful. This will show that you care and that you really want to help.

Maybe you've already tried to help a smoker and they weren't successful. That's okay. Remember you can be a big help, but it's not your fault if the smoker doesn't make it.

What kinds of things can I do to help the smoker trying to quit?
  • Tell your friend that you think she can make it this time - even if she has tried to quit before and failed. In fact, most smokers have to "practice" quitting a few times before they quit for good.
  • For the first few days after the smoker quits, be ready to help. He may want to talk all the time or he may just want extra help when a tough situation comes up, like a coffee break, a party or after a meal.
  • Offer to call or visit to check on how she is doing. Ask how she's feeling, not just whether or not she's still off cigarettes.
  • No nagging, scolding or preaching - this just does not work. Instead, let him know how much you admire him for trying to quit. Let him know that you care about him whether he quits or not.
What other things can I do to help?
  • Give lots of praise and offer rewards for getting through a day, a week, or a month without smoking. Rewards can be simple - flowers, something to eat, a card.
  • Give rewards right away. Giving rewards right away works better than rewards promised for the future.
  • Offer to do things together like eating in a nonsmoking restaurant, going to a movie or for a walk.
  • Try to see it from your friend's side. He's not really sure he wants to quit. Cigarettes have been a steady friend for a long time. These feelings are normal even in smokers who succeed. Let him know you understand his doubts.
My friend is really worried about gaining weight. What can I say?

Some smokers do gain weight when they stop smoking but they are still much better off without smoking. Sometimes when people stop smoking, they really want sweet foods. You can help your friend stay away from sweets. Offer her low-fat snacks like carrots, fresh fruit, plain popcorn or sugarless gum.
Exercise really helps to keep weight down. Offer to do things together where smoking doesn't fit in - swimming, jogging, or brisk walking.

Can I help my friend plan how to handle urges to smoke?

Yes. In fact, those who succeed in quitting plan ahead about how to cope with urges to smoke. Encourage your friend and offer to help him think up some simple things that he will do when he gets an urge to smoke. Here are a few ideas:

  • Call you when she feels the urge to smoke. Remind her that the urge to smoke will pass in just a few minutes - whether she smokes a cigarette or not!
  • Leave the place that makes him want to smoke. For example, a party where alcohol is served may make him want a cigarette. Go for a walk around the block, or better yet, stay away from parties and alcohol for the first few weeks.
  • Do some deep breathing if she is feeling tense. Breathe in and breathe out slowly to bring more air into the lungs, which will help your friend relax.
What if I get annoyed when my friend is tempted to smoke?

Try to stay with it. You're doing a great job! Your friend is trying to break an addiction to cigarettes that may have started several years ago.

Be prepared for some unfriendly and even nasty behavior from your friend. He is going though a tough time. Tell him that you still care about him even if he is acting badly. Remind yourself that you are doing a great thing by helping your friend and that the bad times will not last long.

Encourage him to talk about how he is feeling and then listen to what he says. Give him your attention. Laugh at his jokes and praise him as often as you can. You can also ask your friend to tell you when he is doing OK so you can feel good and take some credit for his progress.

Do smokers really have withdrawal symptoms when they quit?

Many smokers do have symptoms during the first few weeks after they quit. Some common ones are:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling anxious or restless

These will go away as the body gets rid of the nicotine. Other symptoms may be harder for you to handle. Your friend may be grouchy, irritable, nervous or pushy. Try to forgive him.

Tell your friend you know that these symptoms are real and that they will not last long. A week or two may seem like a long time, but it will get better.

I quit smoking a long time ago. Should I tell my friend it was pretty easy for me?

Quitting smoking is different for every one. You can be a special help to your friend since you already went through it. Let your friend know how glad you are that she is trying to quit and praise how well she is doing. Ask how she is feeling and what you can do to help.

Mention all the good things you have felt since quitting. Short-term things are easier to understand -- like fresher breath, more energy and no more smelly clothes, stained teeth or fingers. Many ex-smokers talk about getting control of their lives when they quit.

Forget any talk about how easy it was for you to quit. Most smokers are addicted and it's hard for them to quit. Instead, tell your friend that 45 million Americans have quit smoking and that she can do it too.

I've never smoked. Can I really help a friend stop smoking?

Yes, you just need to listen to him and encourage him to express feelings and then, give him lots of sympathy. Did you know that it's not willpower that helps smokers quit? Most are addicted to cigarettes and have a really hard time quitting on the first few tries.

You can also encourage your friend to get help from the resources and web sites listed below.

I'm a smoker myself. Can I do anything?

You don't have to quit to be of help. You could really help your friend by not smoking around him. You could also think up new nonsmoking activities to replace those where you smoked together.

The best gift you could give your friend and yourself is to quit smoking now. Your friend is more likely to stay off cigarettes if you are not smoking. Married ex-smokers are more likely to go back to smoking if their husbands or wives smoke. If you decide to quit, be sure you and your friend ask others to help you as well.

What do I do if my friend starts smoking again?

Forget about blame or guilt. He is really learning how to quit -- he is not failing. Remind him about how well he did do. Each time he tries to quit is a step forward. Help him figure out what led to his relapse and plan what he will do next time in that situation. You may feel badly if he doesn't quit. The best thing to say to your friend is, "Good try! I still care about you and will help you next time."

Try to feel good yourself about all your efforts to help. You can prepare together for the next time your friend tries to quit smoking.

How long do I need to help my friend?

The first 7 to 10 days are the toughest and your friend may need extra help then. Most smokers who go back to smoking do so within the first three months. So, you need to keep in close touch for that time.
"Slips" (having a puff or smoking one or two cigarettes) are pretty common. If your friend has slipped, you can remind him of all the good reasons to stay quit. Praise all his nonsmoking efforts and don't mention the "slips."

Ex-smokers may have an urge to smoke for months, even years, after they stop. This is normal and should not worry her. Remind your friend that these urges happen less and less often. You can also help celebrate nonsmoking anniversaries.

You deserve a lot of credit for helping someone stop this addictive habit. Your help can make the difference. Those who are able to stop smoking are the ones who get help and encouragement from friends and family.

Source: The American Lung Association


California Smokers’ Helpline 1-800-NO-BUTTS
The California Smokers' Helpline is a telephone program that can help you quit smoking. Helpline services are free, funded by the California Department of Health. The Helpline has been in operation since 1992. Every month, thousands of Californians call and receive help.

When you call, a friendly staff person will offer a choice of services: self-help materials, a referral list of other programs, and one-on-one counseling over the phone.

Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition
An advocacy group that promotes a tobacco-free lifestyle and environment. The Coalition was formed in 1985 and is currently funded  by Proposition 99, the sales tax on cigarettes. The Coalition consists of community organizations as well as concerned grandparents, ex-smokers, and people who have lost a loved one to smoking.

UCSC Student Health Center
Confidential medical care. Pamphlets on quitting smoking and local resources available throughout the building.

Smoking Cessation

Is it worth quitting?

If you're having trouble getting motivated, think about these benefits:

  • Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, blood pressure, pulse and body temperature return to normal.
  • Within 8 hours of your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal and oxygen levels increase to normal.
  • Within 2 days of quitting, nerve endings start to regrow and your ability to smell and taste improve.
  • Within 3 months, circulation improves and lung function increases up to 30%.
How do I get ready to quit?
  • Know why you are quitting. List the benefits that this change will bring you. Post the list to remind yourself.
  • Tell friends who will be supportive. Let them know how they can help.
  • Know your smoking patterns and routine and make changes as needed.
  • Recruit a friend to quit at the same time.
  • Use the resources and links listed at the end of this page for support.
  • Get rid of any tobacco products in your room or apartment.
  • Plan regular exercise.
  • Have low calorie snacks available.
  • Collect the money you save and treat yourself to something.
What are the withdrawal symptoms?
  • Tobacco craving lasts a maximum of 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Irritability, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating are common.
  • Increased appetite: Weight gain is 5 to 7 pounds on average; only 5% of people gain more than 20 pounds. You would have to gain 100 pounds to develop the same health risk that smoking creates.
  • Fatigue and dizziness may occur as well.
  • Symptoms are most intense during the first 3 to 4 days. Within 20 days, the average number of symptoms drops to just 1!
What about those first few weeks?

Here are some things to keep in mind that will make quitting easier:

  • Don't quit everything all at once. Focus on smoking. If you try to stop drinking coffee, change your diet and quit smoking at the same time, it will be much harder to be successful.
  • Focus on the present. Deal with one urge at a time instead of anticipating more cravings
  • Drink plenty of water. It will flush the nicotine out of your system and help you feel better.
  • Don't drink alcohol for 3 weeks. Because it affects your judgment, you're more likely to smoke without thinking about it.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You'll feel better and can keep up the motivation to stay quit.
  • Take warm showers to relieve tension.
I'm worried about gaining weight. What can I do?

Fear of weight gain prevents many people from quitting smoking. Nicotine suppresses normal appetite signals, but you can re-learn how to eat. Learn to "listen" to your body's signals of true hunger and fullness:

  • Try not to go longer than 2 to 4 hours without a meal or snack. This prevents you from getting too hungry.
  • Throughout the day, eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks.
  • Eating breakfast is critical to stabilize brain chemistry and prevent late-day carbohydrate cravings.
  • Respond to your cravings if you have them, but with small portions. Restricting food triggers binges and causes guilt. Don't put foods in "good/bad" categories.
  • Emphasize unprocessed, whole foods, like whole grains and fresh fruit. These foods will keep your blood sugar stable and help your mood, too.
  • Specific chemicals in ex-smokers' brains cause cravings for fats. Include a little fat or healthy oils in your meals. Your body chemistry needs these foods, and they will keep you from feeling hungry again soon.
  • Cravings gradually disappear as eating patterns normalize. Regular, moderate exercise is very helpful in this process.
What if I slip up?

It's normal for some people to slip or relapse, so don't assume that it means you can't succeed. These questions can help you learn from a slip.

  • Were you well prepared to quit?
  • What happened?
  • In what situation did you begin to use tobacco again?
  • What people were with you?
  • What could you have done to avoid that cigarette or chewing tobacco?
  • How can you deal with stress without tobacco?
Reasons to try to quit again

You can prevent damaging health effects such as:

  • shortness of breath
  • decreased stamina and fatigue
  • cold hands and feet
  • colds, flu, asthma and bronchitis
  • tooth and gum disease
  • skin wrinkling and aging
  • lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Damaging lung effects are reversible after you quit.

Remember: every attempt you make improves your chances of quitting and staying quit!

What are the different methods for quitting?
  • Cold Turkey: Stop smoking without seeking assistance. 90% of smokers stop "on their own."
  • Clock Method: Delay gratification by increasing the amount of time between each cigarette or chew.
  • Slow withdrawal method: Taper/decrease the number of cigarettes smoked each day and/or change brands to gradually lower nicotine varieties.
  • Behavior modification: This can be provided in a group or through the use of self-help booklets.
  • Nicotine replacement methods: Use the nicotine patch or gum to decrease the physiological symptoms of dependency. You still need to address the psychological and behavioral aspects of smoking. These are more expensive methods, and the dose prescribed must be appropriate for the degree of dependence. You must stop smoking immediately when nicotine replacement is started. Combining nicotine replacement with a behavioral program is most effective.
  • Hypnosis: This may be as effective as behavioral methods.
  • Acupuncture: Randomized trials have not proved its effectiveness, but some people find it works.

Smokeless Tobacco

What is smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco and snuff are various forms of leaf tobacco which contain nicotine. Nicotine has a powerful effect on the central nervous system, particularly the brain. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, speeds up the heart and increases blood pressure.

How is it used?

Chewing tobacco is loose leaf tobacco, often coated with a flavoring such as licorice or molasses. A wad is placed in the cheek.

Moist snuff is chopped tobacco which is dipped or placed between the lower lip and teeth or between the cheek and gums.

Dry snuff is fine, almost powdery tobacco and is placed in the nose and sniffed.

What are the health risks of using smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals found in tobacco are NOT removed by spitting; they mix with saliva which, after contact with tissues of the mouth and throat, is absorbed through the oral mucous into the bloodstream. It can cause cancer and a number of non-cancerous oral conditions and can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence. Oral cancer (especially in the cheeks, gums and throat) may be 50 times more likely in people who use smokeless tobacco. Oral cancer is a particularly deadly form of cancer, killing 30% to 50% of its victims within 5 years.

Leukoplakia (leathery white patches inside the mouth) are a result of direct contact with and continued irritation by tobacco juice. Just a few months of dipping or chewing is often enough to cause leukoplakia on the gum or cheek where the tobacco is held. Approximately 5% of diagnosed cases of leukoplakia develop into oral cancer.

Dental problems such as receding gums, tooth decay, loss of teeth, worn spots on the enamel, discolored teeth and bad breath are common among users of smokeless tobacco. They also experience a decreased sense of taste and smell.

What are warning signs to look for?

If you use smokeless tobacco, you should see a medical provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A sore in the mouth that bleeds easily and doesn't heal
  • A lump or thickening anywhere in the mouth or neck
  • Any soreness or swelling in your mouth that doesn't go away
  • A red or white patch that doesn't go away
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving your tongue or jaw

There are a variety of techniques for quitting smokeless tobacco. Whether you choose to quit "cold turkey" or go slowly by "nicotine fading," you can decrease any discomfort you may feel as you quit. Follow these tips:

  • Choose a time to quit. Don't pick a time when there's a high level of stress in your life; you could be setting yourself up for failure. For example, don't try to quit during exams.
  • Think about why you started using smokeless tobacco in the first place. Is it a way of coping with stress? Is it a habit in certain situations? Do you use it when you're bored? Do certain times of the day trigger an urge to use?
  • When the urge to use strikes you, interrupt it. Develop strategies for dealing with triggers, urges and social pressure. Substitute other things for tobacco, such as sugarless gum, snacks or deep breathing if you chew to relieve stress. You can modify your behavior by using techniques such as relaxation, exercise, cognitive awareness and stress management.
  • Ask friends, family or teammates for support. They can help you get beyond triggers and celebrate your successes along the way.
  • The physical desire for nicotine is not something you can "unlearn" but you have several options for handling withdrawal. You can quit all at once and tough out the days when your body really wants the nicotine. Or you can steadily decrease your intake until you quit.
  • It is normal for some people to have relapses. Instead of feeling that you've failed, remind yourself that you've quit before and you can quit again. Learn from past experiences; the second or third time may be easier because you've done it before.

Links You Can use

At QuitDay, our mission is to help people add 10 healthy years to their lives. Smoking and tobacco addiction reduces quality of life for millions of people each year. Our team strives to inspire people to quit smoking, and have a positive impact on the lives of their loved ones and their children.

Tobacco Free Campus
Promoting the implementation of 100% smoke and tobacco-free campus policies at institutions of higher learning to change social norms. 

An online, interactive quit site developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The Quit Wizard will help you assess your risk factors, set a quit date and keep you smoke free. Other features include success stories, expert advice and a bulletin board. There are many language options including Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Hatian-Creole, Russian and Portuguese.

Web MD
This site allows you to set goals, design your own personalized quit plan, find out about nicotine replacement therapy and read up on quitting options. There is a smoking cessation support group and articles on the latest news, like facts about nicotine water.

California Smokers’ Helpline
The California Smokers' Helpline is a telephone program that can help you quit smoking. Helpline services are free, funded by the California Department of Health. The Helpline has been in operation since 1992. Every month, thousands of Californians call and receive help.

When you call, a friendly staff person will offer a choice of services: self-help materials, a referral list of other programs, and one-on-one counseling over the phone.

Quit Smoking Community

Quit Smoking Community is a virtual community that offers support and information for those trying to kick the deadliest habit in the world. Our vision for Quit Smoking Community is to provide a hub where visitors can access information regarding quitting smoking, as well as download resources and tools to help them begin and complete their quit journey. Our website currently receives over 10,000 visitors per day from around the world, and we hope to bring people of different races and nationalities together in the fight against tobacco.