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Why are cigarettes so addictive?
The nicotine found in cigarettes and other tobacco products is known to be very addictive. Have you ever wondered why that is, or what nicotine is doing inside your body? Here, we explain all you need to know to answer the question: Why are cigarettes so addictive? VCP755104 VCP738412
Welcome to Quitter's Circle
Quitting smoking can be a challenging journey. But like many of life’s challenges, you can make it through with support from others. That’s where Quitter’s Circle comes in. Quitter’s Circle was created by Pfizer and the American Lung Association with one goal: to help smokers successfully ditch smoking. Join us as you navigate the quit-smoking journey, or as you support someone who is quitting, by exploring QuittersCircle.com and downloading the Quitter’s Circle app. Quitter’s Circle is for those who are looking to quit smoking and those supporting a loved one who is quitting smoking. We believe that smoking cigarettes is a complex addiction—physical, mental and social—so we’re bringing together communities to cheer on quitters as they tackle the cigarette-free challenge. Quitter’s Circle arms both quitters and supporters with information on how to reach smokefree success. Within the Quitter’s Circle app, smokers can create a Quit Plan, receive Quit Tips and most importantly, form a Quit Team of supporters by inviting friends and family to participate. These tools are designed to help quitters stay on track with their goals. The app also lets friends and family send motivational messages and see a quitter’s latest achievements in real time. Quitter’s Circle provides important resources and information on how to quit smoking. On the website, as well as on the app, you’ll find ways to connect with a doctor and a discussion guide to start the quitting conversation with a healthcare provider. You can read up on the articles we publish each week, whether it’s our guide to smoking cessation according to stock photos, an infographic on how quitting can make you rich(er), or other fun and educational articles meant to help quitters stay on track and inspire each smokefree moment. If you're a supporter and want more information about what your loved one is going through and how to help them, log onto the Quitter’s Circle app to join a loved one’s Quit Team. There, you can show your support by sending your quitter emoticons, stickers and more. You’ll also receive Support Tips to help you be the best supporter possible in the moments your quitter needs it most. The website also has tons of articles just for supporters! Because we know support is important, we want to educate friends and family on how to best encourage smokers on their way to smokefree success. No matter where in the quit journey you are, or whether you’re helping a quitter along, we have something for you here at Quitter’s Circle. Please make yourself at home online or on the app. We hope you’ll keep coming back for more ‘quitspiration’! If you like, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our email newsletter. Learn more about the app, and find links to download, right here. PP-CHM-USA-0661-02
You’ve done it: you’ve reached a quit smoking milestone. Whether that’s three months, six months or a year, give yourself a pat on the back. It’s no easy feat, but you’ve used the tools at your disposal to achieve success. But there still may be a nagging question in the back of your mind: are you now a former smoker? A non-smoker? When can you officially make the leap to a new, smokefree identity? While there is no set definition of what makes a former smoker, read on to learn some general considerations. In the end, though, it’s up to you as the quitter to decide when you feel ready to declare yourself a former smoker. What’s in a Name? But first, let’s understand some titles: what is the difference between a “non-smoker” and a “former smoker?” According to the American Lung Association, a non-smoker is someone who has never smoked, while a former smoker or ex-smoker is someone who was able to quit smoking. Someone who recently had their quit date­–their first day without cigarettes–is generally not going to call themselves a former smoker. “It might be a little too soon,” says Bill Blatt, the American Lung Association’s National Director of Programs. “They’re still at the beginning of their quit journey and are trying really hard to not smoke,” he adds. But after some time, they might be able to look back on that date as the day they started their smokefree life. Take it One Day at a Time One helpful yardstick is to see how your urges to smoke lessen over time, says Blatt. When you first quit, it can be really hard work to actively manage urges on a day-to-day basis. But overtime, it gets easier.  A day may come when you pass by smokers on the sidewalk or sip your morning coffee and you don’t feel an urge to light up. A study has shown that it could take at least six weeks for your brain to adjust to the absence of nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes). During these weeks, you may feel the strongest urges to smoke. Avoid Even One But Blatt cautions quitters to remember that long after you quit smoking you may still experience occasional urges for cigarettes. “That’s normal,” says Blatt.  But be sure to avoid having even one cigarette, he adds. “That’s how people have slips. It’s easier to have none than one.” When Blatt’s father quit smoking over three decades ago, he recalls his dad would still have urges. He used to smoke while talking on the phone at work; so whenever the phone rang, he would subconsciously reach for his chest pocket where he once kept his cigarettes. “It was such an automatic behavior and speaks to the power of addiction,” says Blatt. Even two years after quitting, his dad called himself “a smoker who chooses not to smoke,” says Blatt. “He didn’t want to go so far to tempt fate, until he was smokefree for a couple of years.” Check In With Yourself Whether it’s been months or years since your last cigarette, give yourself a pat on the back. So, based on your accomplishments, is it finally time to consider yourself smokefree? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider your new non-smoking identity: Have my urges to smoke generally faded? Do I no longer look back on smoking positively? Do I embrace my new smokefree lifestyle? The answers to these questions may help you decide if you are on your way to becoming a former smoker. Your Title, Your Decision In the end, when you decide to call yourself a former smoker is completely up to you. Quitting smoking is a personal decision and journey, so no matter how many supporters you have behind you, this call is entirely yours to make. When you decide that you are indeed a former smoker, don’t forget to share and celebrate your milestone with everyone who has supported you. When did you start calling yourself a former smoker? Comment on or share this article’s post on the Quitter Circle Facebook Page!   PP-CHM-USA-1300
Quitter’s Circle, and the internet as a whole, can be a convenient resource. It can seem like the world is at your fingertips, and in many ways, it is. But once in a while, it’s a good idea to put down your screens, get out of the house, and embrace what the world has to offer. Some state and local fairs and festivals provide a way to spend a smokefree day. The many sights, sounds and smells can help keep your body and mind occupied and off cigarettes. There are resources online and in your local newspaper to find fairs, festivals, and other community events near you. Check out some other perks of these events to enjoy while you’re on your quit journey. Grab a Friend and Get Walking Many smokers fear gaining weight when they quit smoking. This is an understandable concern, but there are steps you can take to help manage weight gain. Adding walks to your exercise routine, along with eating well, can help manage your weight. Call a friend and get them to walk with you! Whether you’re hanging with a fellow quitter or a supporter, a fair or festival is a unique place to catch up while moving. As you walk through the fair, you can enjoy rides, petting zoos, musical performances and more – and maybe even treat yourself to some fresh local fruit or delicious local cuisine from community vendors. Feel the Fresh Air One benefit of quitting smoking is being able to breathe more easily. Within two weeks to three months of quitting smoking, your lung function begins to improve, and within one to nine months of quitting smoking, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Why not experience this while also being outdoors and enjoying some sunshine? Relax! Although quitting can come with some irritability, getting out of the house and into an energy-filled atmosphere could help put a smile back on your face. Attending a fair or festival is a way to enjoy some carefree, fun time with friends and family. Celebrate with some carnival games, and maybe even win a prize! Make sure to capture a picture of your fun, smokefree day. Visit Health Booths Did you know that some health organizations and non-profits have booths at fairs and festivals? These organizations often provide free educational resources, and may have people available to speak to you about different health topics. Be sure to ask about smokefree resources in your own community, such as support groups, American Lung Association resources, or local healthcare providers.  If you’re smokefree, you may even want to find out how you can help inspire others.    PP-CHM-USA-1310
“No more grabbing a cigarette as soon as my feet hit the floor. No more ashes all over my car. No more smelly house, car, clothes, me!” A member of the Quitter’s Circle Facebook community recently posted the above comment describing her life after quitting this January. We couldn’t have said it better. Can you relate to her gratitude in becoming smokefree? We’re so proud of our Facebook community, 150,000+ members and growing.  You hail from around the country, from big cities to small towns, but are connected by the common desire to become smokefree. Many of you have shared your experiences of quitting smoking, and in turn, are motivating others.  As a tribute to the Quitter’s Circle community, we’ve read through your hundreds of Facebook comments and selected a few to turn into inspirational quit smoking art. We understand that quitting smoking takes planning,  practice and persistence, and Quitter’s Circle is here to celebrate your daily victories and support you. To those who are new to Quitter’s Circle, both quitters and supporters, we welcome you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.  Enjoy the artwork below and share with friends, family and fellow quitters. There are numerous benefits to quitting smoking, but how does it really feel to be smokefree? Many of you have shared your experiences. See what the commenters below have said about quitting smoking. From a prettier smile to money saved for a vacation, you’ve praised the many perks of becoming smokefree. You’ve followed some of our useful tips on quitting smoking, and we’re delighted to hear what’s working for you. Many of you have embodied the spirit of Quitter’s Circle by supporting each other along the way. When one quitter recently shared that she was “6 weeks” smokefree, this commenter was quick to praise her accomplishment. You never know when your story may be that inspiring nudge to help someone along their quit journey. So keep the Quitter’s Circle going!   PP-CHM-USA-0967  
Crisp September weather and changing leaves means Back-to-School season is in full swing. Between busy store sales and shifting away from more relaxed summer routines, this time of year can be filled with added stressors and triggers for anyone on their quit journey. Whether you’re the parent of a student, working in education, going back to school yourself, or simply dealing with more school buses on the road on your way to work, it’s important not to let the possible stress of the season derail you from your quit plan. Take stock of your smoking triggers and make sure you have a plan to manage urges that may arise. Triggers can be anything in your daily life that make you want a cigarette, from feeling stress about getting the kids out of the house on time, to seeing a co-worker smoking on their break. Read on for some tips on dealing with these urges and managing triggers, then get ready to turn over a new leaf. 1. Get to Know Your Triggers If you haven’t already, take a moment to write down the various instances throughout the day that you feel an urge to smoke. Are there certain places or situations that make you want a cigarette?  Did you always smoke after a heavy meal or first thing in the morning? Does work or family stress often lead you to want a cigarette? By knowing your smoking triggers, you can plan ahead to try to avoid these situations or have an alternate coping plan. 2. Stick to Smokefree Places Try to stay away from places where others will be lighting up. That may mean avoiding walking by the smoking area on the way into the office or keeping your distance from friends who smoke around you. Make plans with friends for smokefree activities such as seeing a movie, going for a hike, or hitting a “back-to-school” sale. 3. Practice Saying “No” Sooner or later you may be offered a cigarette.  Practice saying “no thanks, I’ve quit smoking,” in front of the mirror or with a friend. 4. Reach out to Supporters The urge to smoke lasts only three to five minutes, whether you light up or not. So when you feel an urge, try texting or calling a friend.  Reaching out for support can help you get past those few minutes. 5. Keep Your Mouth Busy If you miss the feeling of having a cigarette in your mouth, chew on a piece of gum, a toothpick or cinnamon stick.  Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day. And keep healthy snacks on hand like trail mix or carrot sticks when you crave something crunchy. 6. Keep Your Hands Busy You may be missing the feeling of having a cigarette in your hands. Instead, try doodling in a sketchbook, playing a game on your phone, knitting, squeezing a stress ball, flipping a coin, or playing with a rubber band on your wrist. 7. Just breathe, deeply. Taking a few slow, deep breaths may help you get through these triggering moments. This isn’t just a good technique for when you’re feeling stressed, it may help you get through an urge to smoke. Need an extra distraction? Practice deep breathing while taking a quick walk around the block. These are some of the basic techniques for managing urges. Find quit smoking tips that work for you and trade them with other quitters. Visit our Facebook page and connect with quitters to swap stop smoking tips.   PP-CHM-USA-1261
When a longtime smoker declares their desire to quit, it can be an exciting time for those who wish to see them live a healthier lifestyle. But remember that your quitter may be feeling a mix of emotions about quitting, some positive, and some negative. As a supporter, it’s crucial to listen to your quitter’s needs and encourage them to proceed at their own pace. Respect that your quitter is leading their quit journey, and you’re there to support them along the way. Start by simply asking, “How can I help you?” While you may be in a supporting role, don’t underestimate the impact you can make. In a recent survey of 146 adult smokers who were trying to quit, 80 percent said that support from others was very important for their quitting success. To help be the best supporter you can be, read on to learn about three different forms of quit smoking support. Physical Support A major challenge of quitting smoking is managing urges to smoke. Help your quitter resist these urges by having something other than cigarettes to keep their mouth busy. Alternatives include toothpicks, sugar-free lollipops, chewing gum and hard candies, or crunchy, healthy snacks. Make a Quit Kit with these items for your quitter, or keep one handy when you’re with them to show your dedication to their well-being.  Simply being with your quitter during moments when they desire a cigarette can also be beneficial. Though the urge to smoke usually passes within 3 to 5 minutes, your presence may help distract and comfort your quitter during those difficult times. As their lung capacity improves and they get less winded, invite your quitter to go for walks or toss a ball around. Being there as they overcome challenges will encourage your quitter to keep it up. Emotional Support When your quitter gives up cigarettes, they may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, frustration and irritability. Don’t take their moods personally; instead, be a source of positive support. If they want to talk about their feelings, be a good listener. Remind them that these symptoms will fade with time, and the benefits of quitting make the effort worth it. During the quit smoking journey, your quitter may get discouraged with the process. If they have a slip, help them get back on their feet and focused on their goal of a smokefree life. Encourage your quitter to make a plan to deal with urges to prevent future slips. Your quitter will also have milestones to celebrate during their journey, such as one-week, one-month or six-months smokefree. Recognize these successes as notable milestones for your quitter! A little praise can make a big difference. You can also surprise them with a card, a home-cooked meal or tickets to see their favorite band in concert. Financial Support Some smokers cite the costs of quit smoking treatment as a barrier to using them. In a survey sponsored by the American Lung Association and Pfizer involving 483 adult smokers in the US, 78 percent said that quit smoking treatments or aids are too expensive. If money is a concern for your quitter, you can help them set up a Quit Fund. A Quit Fund is an online fundraising tool to help pay for expenses during their quit smoking journey such as doctor’s visits, exercise classes, or healthy groceries. By contributing to their fund, you’re showing that you’re invested in their positive life change. Your quitter’s other friends, family members and coworkers can donate to the Quit Fund as well. Together, your support will add up, covering some of the costs during their quit journey. Or maybe your quitter will use their Quit Fund to plan a smokefree celebration! No matter what they use their quit fund for, your quitter will be filled with gratitude for your generosity and foresight. Quitting smoking is a challenging journey. But your support can make a difference during this journey. Whether its handing your quitter a sugar-free candy at the right moment or asking them “how are you feeling?” after a tough day, your thoughtful support can help your quitter stay focused on their quit smoking goals. To learn more about ways you can help someone quit smoking, visit the For Supporters section of QuittersCircle.com. PP-CHM-USA-1284 
When it comes to quitting smoking, men and women are not created equal. Research suggests that male and female brains respond differently to nicotine. This may explain why men and women have different smoking patterns and quit experiences. Although they are probably not aware of it, men tend to smoke for the “nicotine rush,” while women more often smoke in response to stress and for the calming effects. For anyone quitting smoking, it’s important to understand your specific triggers, how smoking affects your body, and how you’ll plan ahead to cope with the challenges of quitting smoking. Ladies: read on for useful information to help understand your quit journey. Women may have a harder time quitting smoking than men The research is still mixed on this topic. But a recent study of more than 1,000 smokers who had attempted to quit within the past 2 months found that women had 33 percent lower odds of successfully quitting than men. A gender gap also existed among the 694 smokers attempting to quit without smoking cessation medication. Women worry about weight gain Women fear gaining weight more than men when quitting smoking. The more cigarettes smoked per day, the more weight you may gain after quitting. However, the average person who quits smoking gains between 4 and 10 pounds. While you may gain some weight, it’s important to look at the bigger picture: the health benefits from quitting smoking far outweigh any weight gain. You can help manage weight gain with healthy eating and exercise. Find a healthy lifestyle buddy to help you stay on track. You can share healthy recipes, shop together at the farmer’s market, and make weekly dates to exercise. Women tend to smoke to relive stress Many women have a lot on their plates, juggling home and work life, which can naturally lead to stress.  As you prepare for your quit journey, develop a plan for how you’ll manage stressful situations instead of reaching for a cigarette.  Consider some of these stress relief techniques: - Practice breathing techniques. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. A few long, slow breaths can help your body relax. - Take a walk. If the heat of the moment is getting to you, step away for a few minutes. Get your legs moving and your mind off of the problem. - Talk to a friend. During your quit journey, turn to your supporters–that’s what they’re there for. Whether it’s a stressful situation at work or with your kids, sometimes just letting it out to a kind listener can be a source of relief. Women have so many benefits of quitting smoking When you quit smoking, you can look forward to reducing your risk of many serious illnesses, including heart disease and lung cancer. Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. But within 10 years of quitting smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.   For women of childbearing age, quitting smoking can also reduce the risk of infertility and decrease the chances of premature birth, birth defects, and infant death. If you’re looking for other incentives for quitting, there are plenty of those as well: you may look forward to a brighter smile, your clothes and breath no longer smelling of smoke, and you may have more energy. As you can see, you have so much to gain by quitting smoking. So what are you waiting for? Start planning ahead and finding the support you may need on this journey. First, talk to your healthcare provider about quitting smoking and voice any concerns you may have. Round up a support team that can help have your back on this journey.  And look forward to your new healthy, smokefree future!   PP-CHM-USA-1258
No one likes being called a “quitter,” but when it pertains to quitting smoking, it’s actually an impressive title to have. By giving up smoking, you’re not only improving your health and saving money, you’re starting a positive life transformation. As much as the benefits abound, quitting smoking can be tough. At first, it may even feel like losing an old, familiar friend.  But in life there are many instances when giving up one thing (a relationship, a job, a habit) can open the door to positive growth. Next time you think about “quitting” as a loss, remember these five examples that show how “quitting” can lead to positive results, and prepare to be the greatest quitter you can be. 1. Quitting Foreign Rule Perhaps one of the most famous events of American history, the American Revolution, was one enormous “I quit!” After years of being ruled by the British, the colonists decided that they had enough with being taxed and ruled from across the sea. They fought against the odds, and formed their own country. Years later, we still celebrate this momentous occasion with fireworks and barbeques. Imagine what sort of celebration you will be able to enjoy when you are finally smokefree! 2. Quitting the Band How many of your favorite bands have broken up, just to splinter off and create a new and interesting sound? Some of the most famous bands are made up of musicians who were previously in other groups. Calling it quits in one part of your life can lead to new opportunities in other areas.  So let that mic drop, along with the extra spending that comes with smoking. You can save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars (over time), by quitting smoking. At $5.76 per pack, your yearly savings could add up to $1,450 per year.* With all the money you can save by not smoking, why not buy a new instrument and start jamming? 3. Quitting a Toxic Relationship Some friendships aren’t meant to last a lifetime. If you’re not being supported or cherished in the way that you deserve, it might be time to end the relationship. Similarly, plan your breakup with cigarettes – they take up a lot of your time, time that could be spent with supportive friends and loved ones. If you’re a pack-a-day smoker, and assuming it takes about five minutes to smoke a cigarette, then quitting smoking can save you approximately 600 hours per year. Transform your new free time into you time! 4. Quitting Before Injury If your body is talking to you, listen. Pro-athletes are usually good at listening to their bodies’ signals. While they may have been champions in their prime, many athletes make the decision to quit playing when their bodies tell them it’s time. Take a cue from these professional quitters and listen to your body. Is it telling you that it's had enough of the negative effects of smoking, such as smoker's cough, shortness of breath, and tired muscles? Now is the time to consult with your healthcare provider. 5. Quitting Junk Food In the past few years, the public has become more aware of the harmful effects of saturated and trans fats found in many processed foods. Many consumers have stopped buying heavily-processed foods to make room for better tasting, natural products.  When quitting smoking, one physical benefit can help you eat more healthfully: within 48 hours of quitting smoking, your taste buds will start to repair themselves, allowing you better savor the flavors of healthy fruits and vegetables. “Quitting” doesn’t always mean failure. In some cases, it can actually be a gateway to success. Taking the first steps, such as finding supportive friends and coworkers, picking a quit date, and talking to a healthcare professional will help you understand a way to quit that is best for you. Know that when you’re ready to quit, you’re in good company. *The average price of a pack of cigarettes is $5.76 and the average smoker smokes 13.8 cigarettes per day, Based on 2014 figures.   PP-CHM-USA-1259
So you’d like to quit smoking­? We know it can be challenging. But we also know that support from a healthcare provider, which can include medication and counseling, can double your chances of quitting successfully. Remember, smoking can be a physical, mental, and/or social addiction and a healthcare provider can offer the tools to help you quit. If you’ve already made an appointment with your healthcare provider, congratulations on taking this critical step!  You may be wondering how that appointment will go and what will be discussed. Below is a useful TEAM guide to help you get the most out of your visit. Print it out and bring it with you to your appointment. TELL your healthcare provider: I want to quit smoking and I need help. EXPLAIN your quit history: Sharing past quit attempts and methods you’ve tried can help your healthcare provider determine the best course for this quit attempt. Be prepared to discuss your medical history and any medications that you’re currently taking if the provider doesn’t already have that information. ASK about support tools: What medication and counseling options are available to help you quit?  How long do you need to stay on treatment? Where can you find extra support as you’re quitting? MANAGE your expectations: To improve your quit chances, ask your healthcare provider what to expect in your quit journey and how to manage challenging moments.  What withdrawal symptoms should you expect? What can you do to overcome urges to smoke?  When does it start to get easier? Remember that this visit with your healthcare provider should be an open two-way conversation.  He or she has the expertise to help you quit smoking but you know yourself better than anyone. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity and give yourself the best chance of quitting smoking for good. For more tips and questions to ask your healthcare provider, refer to this quick guide. With support and preparation, you’ll be armed for success on your quit smoking journey.   PP-CHM-USA-0915
Do you have a close friend who is quitting smoking? Are you wondering how to support them? You’ve made an important first step by seeking out information about how to help them. In a recent survey of 146 adult smokers who were trying to quit, 80 percent said support from family, friends and coworkers is very important to successfully quit smoking. While your pal’s motivation to stay smokefree must ultimately come from within, you can play an important role in helping them achieve success! As summer goes on, bringing warmer weather and vacation time, think of activities you can do with your friend to help them enjoy the benefits of a smokefree life. Here are some key ways you can be an effective supporter to your friend: Be a source of support If your quitter has asked you for support, take a moment to feel honored that they’ve let you into their inner circle. During this important and challenging life transition, your friend needs a lot of support and encouragement. During the first few days of your friend’s quit, make yourself available for phone calls or evening walks.  Show that you understand the journey can be challenging, by simply asking, “How are you doing?” Avoid lecturing or criticizing them. Another way to stay connected with your friend is by using the Quitter’s Circle app. Download the app on your mobile device, and invite them to do so as well.  Supporters can receive updates when their Quitter hits a milestone and send encouraging stickers, emoticons and Quit Cards. Plan Fun Smokefree Activities Together Quitting smoking is more than just giving up cigarettes. Your friend may have to learn new skills and habits to adjust to a smokefree life. During the early weeks of your friend’s quit, when slip-ups are most likely to occur, plan some fun activities that avoid smoking triggers and serve as a distraction from smoking. Surprise your friend with an activity to celebrate their new smokefree life. Have you and your friend always wanted to try stand up paddle boarding, salsa dancing, or horseback riding? Start something new! Help them Set Up a Quit Fund A Quit Fund is a way for friends and family to donate money to help with expenses related to quitting, such as doctor’s visits, and other things that may help support a healthier lifestyle, such as healthy groceries and new workout clothes. Let your friend know about this option and offer to help set up their Quit Fund, but remember: they should be leading the effort. Celebrate your Quitter Your friend is working hard to quit smoking, and by being a key supporter, you can also celebrate in their successes. When your quitter reaches a milestone, such as one-month smokefree, think of fun ways to honor their accomplishment. Here are some ideas: Prepare their favorite meal Give them a card telling them how much you care Surprise them with fresh flowers or a gift-certificate to their favorite retail store  If you have a close friend that is quitting smoking, visit our Facebook page to give them a shout-out and let them know how proud you are of their quit journey.   PP-CHM-USA-1172