Quit smoking this holiday season with helpful tips from UTHealth tobacco cessation researchers

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HOUSTON – (Dec. 19, 2013) – For those who are trying to quit smoking this holiday season, tobacco cessation researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have some helpful tips and information to help you along.                           

“The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but it can be especially hard to deal with holiday shopping or unpleasant family dynamics when you are trying to quit smoking,” said Michael Businelle, Ph.D., an assistant professor at The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus. Here are some simple but effective ways to keep from smoking this holiday season.


Darla Kendzor, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus, part of UTHealth, and she suggests getting help when you are feeling overwhelmed. “Your chances of success are five to six times greater when you use resources such as medication and counseling.”

Contact the free Texas Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-YES-QUIT) or the National Cancer Institute quit line (1-877-44U-QUIT) for counseling, information and referrals. You can prepare to quit smoking by using the nicotine patch or prescription medications that may help adults quit smoking.

An important way to keep from picking up a cigarette is to avoid your triggers. “Make a plan for coping with negative emotions and smoking triggers that can be avoided. Call a friend for support and they can help take your mind off of cigarettes,” said Businelle.

Physical activity is a great way to cope with stress and cravings. Consider taking a walk or head to the gym if the weather is bad. Go see a movie or do something incompatible with cigarettes.

Your health will improve

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and Texas. More deaths are caused by smoking related illnesses than deaths from alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, suicides, homicides and fire combined. Tobacco kills 443,000 Americans each year.

Every year, more than 24,000 Texans die from smoking-related illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. The No.1 cause of cancer deaths in the country and among Texans is lung cancer, and about 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking.

“Remember, nicotine doesn’t really relax you. Your body is used to nicotine and it seems more relaxed when you feed the addiction. Ex-smokers report feeling much less stressed a few weeks after quitting,” said Kendzor.

Longevity of life

On average, non-smokers live 12 years longer than smokers and ex-smokers live up to 10 years longer than smokers who do not quit. How old are you? See how your life expectancy changes if you quit now:

  • Those who quit around age 30 live an average of 10 years longer
  • Those who quit around age 40 live an average of 9 years longer
  • Those who quit around age 50 live an average of 6 years longer
  • Those who quit around age 60 live an average of 4 years longer
  • Even those who quit at age 70 or above will enjoy the benefits of quitting


Smoking is an expensive habit. The average pack-a-day smoker spends $1,825 on cigarettes each year.

In the 1960s, about half of all American adults smoked, but now only one in five Americans smoke. Most smokers have already quit, and you can too. It’s good for your health, your stress level, and your wallet.

It’s also good for those around you as secondhand smoke can cause asthma attacks and make colds worse. It can also put others at risk for heart and lung diseases. For children, secondhand smoke is the same as smoking several cigarettes a day.


Hannah Rhodes
Media Contact: 713-500-3030