| home| ovisnosti| content |

And what if I stopped smoking?

This brochure is designed for those who are not seriously 
considering quitting smoking

Print this brochure, rather than read it on the screen

If, like the majority of smokers, you do not see stopping smoking immediately, this brochure is designed for you. Its purpose is to inform you of the advantages of life without cigarettes and to encourage you to stop smoking. The information that it contains is based on the experience both by smokers and ex-smokers, as well as a review of the most recent scientific knowledge. We would love to share this information with you.

The advantages of life without cigarettes

Have you thought carefully of the advantages of life without cigarettes? Use the space below to make a list.

The advantages of life without cigarettes:

__________________________ ________________________________

__________________________ ________________________________

Here is what a number of men and women ex-smokers told us in one of our surveys:

  • "I am proud of myself." "I have satisfaction of having won the battle."

  • "You impose less on those around you. "My family thinks quite a bit more of me." "My family is very happy."

  • "I have more energy." "I'm in better shape." "My athletic abilities have improved."

  • "I feel fresher in the morning when I wake up." "I'm less tired."

  • "I breathe better." "I have rediscovered tastes and smells."

  • "I spend less money." "I save 40 Francs per week (a fill-up at the gas-station)."

  • "I'm not always obliged to think of carrying cigarettes with me all the time."

  • "I have better breath." "The 'smoker's smell' of my cloths has disappeared." "I look better."

  • "I do not have to be preoccupied with my lungs."

  • "I do not cough anymore." "I do not have headaches anymore." "I get sore throats less often."

  • "I am less nervous."

Improve your health by stopping smoking

You risk becoming seriously ill if you continue to smoke. Stopping smoking is the most important thing you can do to protect your health, regardless of your age and the number of years you have smoked.

  • Men who quit smoking between the ages of 35 and 39 increase their life expectancy by 5 years. Women of the same age who quit increase their life expectancy by 3 years. Even men and women who quit smoking after the age of 65 increase their life expectancy.

  • One year after quitting, the risk of heart disease (e.g., heart attack) is cut in half. After 15 years, the risk is similar to that for people who have never smoked.

  • 10 years after you have stopped smoking, the risks of lung cancer drops to one-half.

  • For men, smoking cigarettes increases the risk of impotence. By quitting, this risk diminishes.

Women gain a lot by quitting smoking

  • It is risky to smoke while taking the contraceptive pill. By stopping smoking, women who are taking "the pill" greatly diminish their risks of cardiovascular disease.

  • Women smokers who hope to become pregnant have to wait longer than those who do not smoke. Women who quit smoking before trying to become pregnant increase their chances of becoming pregnant to equal those who do not smoke.

  • Smoking during pregnancy entails serious risks for the child, particularly for the risk of insufficient birth weight. Women who stop smoking either before becoming pregnant, or during the first trimester of their pregnancy have the same risk as nonsmokers of giving birth to an infant with insufficient birth weight.

  • Nicotine passes through the placenta and also goes into the maternal milk. As a result, it acts on the brain of the fetus and the nursing infant.

  • Menopause comes earlier for women who smoke than for women who do not. By stopping smoking, menopause is delayed.

  • Smoking increases wrinkles. By quitting smoking, you save your skin.

By stopping smoking, you also protect your children

  • Children of smokers are twice as likely to start smoking as children of nonsmokers. By stopping smoking, you reduce the risk of your children themselves starting to smoke.

  • Children of smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, asthma and chronic bronchitis than children of nonsmokers.

  • The risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is higher when the parents smoke than when they do not smoke.

Drawbacks of smoking

Have you thought carefully about the other drawbacks of smoking, besides the health risks? Use the space below to make a list.

Drawbacks of the smoking habit:

___________________________ ___________________________

___________________________ ___________________________

Here are some drawbacks of smoking mentioned by the participants of our surveys. Keep in mind that these drawbacks will disappear if you stop smoking!

  • "Smoking gives me bad breath."

  • "You smell bad after you smoke cigarettes."

  • "Cigarettes make the apartment and the car stink."

  • "My smoking habit makes me spend a lot of money."

  • "Smoking makes my fingers and teeth yellow."

  • "It is annoying to feel like I'm dependant on cigarettes."

  • "Smoking bothers others."

  • "You have less breath if you smoke."

  • "Smoking makes you tired."

  • "You have less energy."

Did you know?

  • In the USA, in the UK, and in most developed countries, smoking is the principal preventable cause of death and disease.

  • In the USA, 530,000 people die each year from diseases caused by smoking. This is equivalent to 1,325 crashes of a Boeing 747 (more than 3 crashes per day)! It is more than the TOTALITY of deaths due to road accidents, illegal drugs, AIDS, alcoholic cirrhosis, homicides and suicides. In the UK, smoking is responsible for 121,000 deaths per year.

  • One smoker out of 2 dies of a disease attributed to his or her smoking. On average, smokers die 8 years before nonsmokers. By stopping smoking, you add several years to your life expectancy and increase your chances of seeing your grandchildren grow up.

  • Tobacco-caused deaths are usually preceded by long and painful illnesses.

  • Smoking does not only kill old people. In the USA, 36% of deaths occurring in men aged 35 to 69 are due to smoking; and 31% for women of the same age. For the UK, the corresponding figures are 31% for men and 25% for women. (The mortality is lower for women because, in the past, women were less likely to smoke than men).

  • The risk of lung cancer is 18 times higher for smokers than for nonsmokers. The risk of having a heart attack before the age of 65 is 3 times higher. These risks drop significantly if you quit smoking.

  • Only 13% of the people who are diagnosed with lung cancer today will be alive in five years.

  • Smoking is the cause of many other health problems: cerebral attacks (strokes), osteoporosis (reduction in the density of the bones, causing pain and fractures), chronic bronchitis, stomach ulcers, deterioration of the gums, etc.

  • Smokers cause 33% of all fires (because of cigarettes thrown in the trash, etc).

  • Many accidents on the road are caused by smokers because of inattention while lighting a cigarette or while searching for a cigarette that has fallen on the floor.

In smoking, you absorb:

  • More than 4,000 substances naturally present in tobacco, including nicotine (which causes the dependence or addiction), carbon monoxide (which inhibits brain and muscle activity), arsenic, cyanides, acetone, formaldehyde, etc.

  • Chemical additives: carbonic, acetic, formic and benzoic acids; titanium dioxide; ash-bleaching products; combustion accelerators, etc.

  • "Tar," which collects in the bronchi and lungs and can cause cancer .

  • Ammonia, which cigarette manufacturers add to the tobacco to facilitate the absorption of nicotine and to increase the dependence of smokers.

  • Many of these substances and additives are extremely toxic. Do you really want to continue to absorb this daily?

In smoking, you put the health of others in danger:

The risk of lung cancer is 26% higher for nonsmokers if they live with a smoker than if they do not. The risk of heart attack is 23% higher.

The image of yourself that you present to others

Today, it is becoming worse and worse to be seen smoking. Consider the negative image you give of yourself to your family, your children, your friends, your work colleagues, to your bosses. In quitting smoking, you will project an image of a strong and responsible person, capable of willpower, conscious of your health and that of others.

The example given to children

Adults who smoke carry part of the responsibility when adolescents imitate their behaviors. By stopping smoking, you will give a positive example for the younger ones.

Supporting the Tobacco Industry?

In buying cigarettes, you are supporting an industry that targets children and youngsters, manipulates the composition of the tobacco to make it more addictive to smokers. This industry admits also to have lied, because despite of its multi-year denial of the fact, it has known for a long time that nicotine causes a physical addiction.

What smoking costs

How much do you spend each day on your cigarettes?       _____ $ / day.

Multiply figure by 365 to obtain your spending per year      _____ $ / year.

Multiply figure by 10 to find your spending over ten years   _____ $ / 10 years.

Write down below what you can buy with this money:

________________________ _________________________

Why do you continue to smoke?

Have you really sat down and asked yourself yet why you continue to smoke, considering the drawbacks of the habit? Use the space below to make a list.

The reasons why I continue to smoke:



Here are a few reasons explained to us by smokers who participated in our surveys. Each is followed by an explanation of why the logic is not the best:

"I like to smoke."

You can find the pleasure you get out of cigarettes elsewhere. If you stop smoking, you will have feelings of success, you will feel in better shape, you will fully rediscover tastes and smells, foods and drinks will taste better, you won't always be out of breath. By stopping smoking, you will not have to worry about the risks that you run for your health and the health of others anymore.

"Smoking relaxes me."

There are other ways to relax than by smoking: breathing deeply several times, taking a walk, doing more sports, practicing a relaxation technique, getting enough sleep, taking a nap, etc.

The pleasure and feelings of relaxation after you smoke a cigarette are actually linked to your dependence on the nicotine itself. They are consequences of the elimination of the negative feelings of having a nicotine withdrawal. Nonsmokers feel neither pleasure nor relaxed when they absorb nicotine. If you stop smoking, you will realize that you do not need cigarettes to be relaxed and live happily. Smokers have forgotten what it is like to be completely relaxed, as they are always afraid of having a nicotine withdrawal.

"Cigarettes help me cope with difficult moments."

Ask yourself truly, do cigarettes really help you deal with your problems? Lighting a cigarette when a problem comes can prevent you from clearly discerning the problem and the solution.

"Smoking helps me concentrate and work better."

Nicotine facilitates concentration mostly because it reduces withdrawal symptoms (e.g., restlessness and anxiety); using nicotine just allows you to focus yourself on something other than these symptoms. In reality, cigarettes reduce intellectual performance, because of diminished flow of oxygen to the brain.

"I will quit one day, just not right now."

You probably do not see smoking for the rest of your life. What are you waiting for? Quitting smoking will not be easier later than now. Is it not better to stop smoking now, rather than after you contract a disease caused by smoking?

"I don't have the willpower to quit."

There are actually 36 million ex-smokers in the U.S.A. If millions of people are able to stop smoking, then you certainly capable of doing it as well! Look around you, you certainly know several ex-smokers. Remind yourself that you do not have less willpower than anyone else. You can succeed at stopping smoking as well. Contrary to what many smokers believe, stopping smoking is not only a matter of will power. It demands a particular knowledge. You can acquire this expertise by reading the brochures in this series.

"I am dependent on the nicotine."

Nicotine is a substance that results in a strong physical addiction. After all, dependence is the main reason why smokers continue to smoke. With each cigarette, you strengthen and reinforce this dependence. Nonetheless, you will only need about 2 to 3 weeks of not smoking to get rid of the dependence. It is quitting smoking that is the very door to the prison of dependence. And in fact, many ex-smokers have told us that freeing themselves of this dependence was less difficult than they thought. And if they had known how easy it was to stop, they would have done it even earlier.

"I'm afraid of the withdrawal effects of quitting."

These symptoms generally disappear within 2 to 3 weeks. The "patch," chewing gums, nasal spray and inhalator containing nicotine, as well as a new drug called bupropion, reduce or eliminate these symptoms. By using these products, you double or triple your chances of successfully quitting.

"If I quit smoking, I will gain weight."

It is true that some people gain weight after they stop smoking. Understand however, that this weight gain is usually moderate (3 to 4 kilos, or 8-10 pounds) and many simple and effective techniques exist to either lose the weight or to avoid gaining it in the first place. The use of nicotine-containing products or of the bupropion drug by ex-smokers limits weight gains a little, or at least postpones the smoking cessation related weight gain.

"It is too late, the damage is done."

This is bad logic. No matter how old you are or how many years you have smoked, quitting smoking is beneficial for your health. It is NEVER TOO LATE to stop smoking.

"I only smoke a few cigarettes. It isn't very dangerous."

This is bad logic. Many scientific studies have shown that "small time" smokers run serious risks. For example, people who smoke 1 to 10 cigarettes a day run 10 times the risk of cancer as nonsmokers.

"I smoke light cigarettes. I run only small risks.":

The term "light" cigarettes was invented by the tobacco industry to fool smokers into believing that these cigarettes are less toxic or less addictive, a fact which is not true. Machines establish the level of nicotine and tar written on the cigarette packets, but people do not smoke like machines! Smokers of light cigarettes do not smoke the same way that smokers of "regular" cigarettes do. They inhale the smoke more deeply, take longer and more frequent puffs, make shorter butts and block the ventilation holes around the filter to avoid diluting the smoke with air. As a result, the levels of nicotine and other toxic substances in the blood are not much different for people who smoke light cigarettes than for people who smoke regular cigarettes.

"If I try to quit, I'm afraid I will just start again."

Relapsing is a normal phenomenon, a part of the quitting process. On average, ex-smokers make 4 serious attempts to quit before they free themselves from cigarettes. It is not a shame to relapse! Just try again and again. Every attempt increases your chances of success.

What now?

Why not take the leap?

You probably do not see smoking for the rest of your days. So why not quit now, before you become sick from a smoking-related disease, or before making your family sick from a disease related to your smoking? Many ex-smokers have said that stopping smoking was the best thing they ever did in their lives, and one that made them the most proud. Start by getting motivated. Inform yourself, speak with those around you or with your doctor, prepare an attempt, then try to stop, even if you might relapse. On average, ex-smokers make 4 serious attempts to quit before they quit for good. It is entirely normal to restart many times.

We can help you!

We can give you individualized advice to motivate you to stop smoking. Just respond to our questionnaire and return it to us. In return, you will receive a personalized evaluation of your responses. You can choose to receive a series of these evaluations, updated periodically. We have also created a series of brochures that can be useful to you, in particular the brochure entitled "It is final, I am quitting smoking." You can order this material at the address on the first page. If you have access to the Internet, you can obtain all of this material at the following address: http://www.stop-tabac.ch. All of our material is free of charge.

Prepare yourself, actively

Of course, instead of stopping smoking all alone, it is better to get help through a doctor, through a specialist in tobacco withdrawal, or through a support group. You will find the necessary addresses on the following page. Use products that substitute for the nicotine in cigarettes (patch, chewing gum, nasal spray), or the drug bupropion. These products double or triple the chances of success of your attempt to quit.

Just like a million Swiss, 8 million French and 36 million American citizens, you are completely capable of becoming and then remaining an ex-smoker!

Where can you find help and information on quitting smoking?


Additional Internet Links






Articles and Publications

Products For Sale


Treatment & Support Services


  • Message to Youth - A NEW VIDEO

  • Straight Talk About Tobacco, a live talk by Patrick Reynolds, was recently made available on video. Filmed before 2,000 middle and high school students, this powerful, multimedia presentation helps motivate youth to stay tobacco free, and to resist the onslaught of tobacco advertising and peer pressure.

The stages of change

The stages of change

  • Most smokers pass through 5 steps (or stages) before they become confirmed ex-smokers.

  • We have designed a brochure for each of these 5 stages, as well as a brochure for those who have restarted smoking after trying to quit (relapse).

  • These brochures can be ordered from the address located on the first page.

  • If you are in the Precontemplation stage (you have NO intention to stop smoking within the next 6 months), this is the brochure you should read first.

  • You get the most out of these brochures if you make notes on them, if you underline the important passages and if you take note of the main points.





You do not seriously plan to stop smoking

And what if I stopped smoking?


You seriously plan to stop smoking in the next 6 months

I am thinking about stopping smoking


You have decided to stop smoking in the next 30 days

It is final. I'm quitting smoking!


You have stopped smoking for fewer than 6 months

I just quit smoking


You have stopped smoking for more than 6 months

Ex-smokers: persevere!


You have started to smoke again after stopping for a short time

I started smoking again

This brochure was created at the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine of the University of Geneva, with the support of the Swiss Cancer League, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss-Romande Lottery, the Geneva Department of Social Action and Health, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, The Swiss Foundation for Health Promotion, Pharmacia & Upjohn, the Swiss Pulmonary League, the Cipret-Genève and the Jura Canton Health Service. We thank the Swiss Association for Smoking Prevention (at) for it help and support.

Copyright (c) Jean-François Etter 1999. All rights reserved.

Author: Jean-François Etter. Translated from French into English 1 March, 1999 by MCART.org

Your donations will allow us to distribute these brochures and to pursue our prevention programs and our research on smoking prevention. Send donations to the Postal Account CCP 12-7003-9, Faculté de médecine, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland. Do not forget to indicate: "Fonds 2428 - IMSP."

If you have an Internet site, we appreciate your linking to the site http://www.stop-tabac.ch.