Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

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Quitting Tobacco

If you smoke or use tobacco products, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health and the health of your loved ones. Good planning, support, and the latest quit tobacco medications can help you succeed.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Congratulations! You are already experiencing the benefits of a tobacco-free life.

Throw it all away 

Throw out your cigarettes or tobacco, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Avoid temptation by cutting your cigarettes into pieces, soaking them in water, and dropping them in a trash can some distance from your house. 

Look forward to your new life 

Celebrate by enjoying the benefits of a tobacco-free life. 

  • Have your teeth cleaned at the dentist to get rid of tobacco stains. 
  • Take your favorite clothes to the dry cleaners and anticipate how good they'll smell.   
  • Get your carpets and drapes, or the whole house, cleaned to honor your newly tobacco-free home. 

Embrace Your Nonsmoking Identity

You have important reasons for quitting tobacco. Write those reasons down, carry them with you, and post them everywhere. Reviewing them will keep you motivated when withdrawal symptoms, or nostalgia for your old lifestyle, weaken your resolve.  

Actively think of yourself as a nonsmoker, several times a day. Practice saying aloud, "I do not smoke. I am a nonsmoker." Remind yourself of the benefits of being a nonsmoker:

  • You’ll save money. 
  • Your house, hair, clothes, breath, and car will smell better. 
  • You'll look better and feel healthier. 
  • You'll have a new sense of control over your life. 

Feel the Immediate Health Benefits

As soon as you quit smoking, your body begins to heal.

Within 12 hours of quitting:

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • Levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your blood go down.
  • Your lung function improves. 

Within a few days of quitting:

  • Your sense of smell and taste improve. 
  • Blood carbon monoxide levels drop to a normal level and the oxygen level in your blood increases. 
  • Breathing is easier.
  • Your smoker's cough begins to improve, although you may continue to cough for a few weeks.

Look Forward to the Long-Term Health Benefits

The benefits of quitting tobacco last a lifetime.

Within a few weeks/months of quitting:

  • Your circulation improves and your energy level increases. 
  • Walking is easier. 
  • Your lung function increases by up to 30 percent.
  • Coughing, sinus congestion, and fatigue decrease. 

In the long term:

  • Within 5 years, your stroke risk can drop to that of people who have never smoked.  
  • In 10 years, your lung cancer risk decreases by half.
  • You’ll feel better. Smokers who quit have more energy and stamina and less coughs and colds. On top of that, food tastes good again and sleep patterns improve.

Stay Busy

Give yourself reasons not to smoke. Keep busy and fill your schedule with supportive people and activities. 

Choose activities that are incompatible with smoking:  
  • Swim, go to the movies, dance, or play tennis.
  • Spend time with people who are supportive of your plan to quit smoking. 
Avoid activities that are high-risk for smoking:

Steer clear of situations that you associate with smoking. For example:

  • Don’t drink alcohol, especially during the first few days. Even after several weeks of nonsmoking, we recommend you limit your consumption to 1 or 2 drinks per day or fewer.  
  • Keep away from places where people smoke, and ask friends or family not to smoke around you. 
  • Avoid stressful situations that might make you reach for a cigarette. Talk to us about alternative ways to manage your stress.  

Expect Withdrawal Symptoms

Your body is accustomed to a regular supply of nicotine and tobacco. When you quit tobacco, you may experience some symptoms of physical withdrawal, including:

  • Sore mouth or throat, or cough 
  • Intense craving for nicotine 
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and frustration 
  • Depressed mood, irritability, and difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue and difficulty sleeping 
  • Hunger 
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation or diarrhea 

Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Use quit medications. If you are not already using them, talk with your doctor about quit tobacco medicines. 
  • Hydrate. Relieve mouth and throat discomfort with ice water, herbal tea, lozenges, or hard candy.  
  • Relax. Manage headaches, stress, and irritability with relaxation techniques like yoga, walking, warm baths/showers, meditation, and guided imagery.  
  • Consume less caffeine. Sleep better by avoiding caffeine late in the day and relaxing before bed. Nicotine makes caffeine less effective, so decrease your caffeine intake now that you’ve quit. 
  • Take naps. Remember that your body is healing – get plenty of rest to fight fatigue and don't exercise too much for the first few weeks. 
  • Manage hunger. A healthy diet while you're quitting can nourish your body and help prevent weight gain. Eat frequent, healthy snacks. Include fruit, vegetables, and whole grains to prevent constipation. 
Additional References:

Monitor Your Medications

There are a variety of products (both over-the-counter and prescription) available to ease the cravings and other symptoms caused by nicotine withdrawal. People who use medications to help them quit are twice as successful at quitting tobacco as people who don't.

Be aware that smoking may have been affecting your other medications, When you quit tobacco, talk with your doctor about whether it makes sense to adjust the dosage of your other medications.

Right type, right amount

Pay attention to the way you feel. Quit tobacco medications should relieve some of your cravings and withdrawal, so you can function more or less normally. If you are experiencing intolerable withdrawal symptoms, let us know so that we can adjust the dose or type of medication. 

Nicotine overdose

Rarely, people can overdose by using too much nicotine medication. This is most common in children who accidentally chew nicotine gum, play with nicotine patches, or get into the liquid nicotine cartridges in electronic cigarettes. Follow the instructions on medications and keep nicotine replacement and tobacco products away from children. 

Additional References:

Anticipate Smoking Triggers

It’s important to be aware of the situations and triggers that make you feel like using tobacco. Common triggers include:

  • Driving 
  • Talking on the telephone 
  • Drinking coffee or alcohol
  • Finishing a meal 
  • Being with smokers 
  • Feeling stressed, upset, bored, or down 

If you can avoid these situations in the first few days, do so. However, some are unavoidable so work on your strategies for fighting the urge to smoke. 

Fight the Urge: Coping strategies

Use the "Six D" strategies to help you resist the urge to smoke:

  • Delay. The urge to smoke usually lasts just a few minutes. Wait 5 or 10 minutes until the craving becomes less intense.  
  • Distract yourself. Call a friend, work on a project, or go for a walk. Do something with your hands.      
  • Drink water. Drinking water delays the urge and satisfies the hand-mouth habit. 
  • Do something different. Change your routine or activity and avoid situations that remind you of smoking.  
  • Deep breathing. Breathe deeply into your stomach and out through your mouth to relax and clear your mind so you can refocus on what's important. 
  • Don't give up. Over time, withdrawal symptoms become manageable and then diminish. Every day you fight the urge to smoke puts you more in control and less at the mercy of tobacco.   

Get Support and Celebrate Success

Support from your friends, family, and health care team will help you through difficult days and make it more likely that you will quit successfully. Patting yourself on the back, and celebrating successes, is important too. It can be helpful to: 

  • Ask friends and family for their support. Let them know you might be tense and irritable for a while. 
  • Join a quit smoking support group.   
  • Ask friends who smoke to quit with you or, at least, not to smoke around you. 
  • Cut yourself some slack. Get lots of rest, take care of yourself, and avoid stressful situations if possible.  
  • Treat yourself. Spend some of the money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes on a spa day, a gift for yourself, or a getaway weekend. 

Related Health Tools:

Classes and Coaching
Interactive Programs

See more Health Tools »

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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