Quit Tobacco for Women
In the past, most research on effective ways to quit smoking was done using only men. As more studies included women, we learned that the best way to quit is the same for both women and men: counseling and smoking cessation medication. However, there are some differences between the genders when it comes to quitting.
Control cravings with medication
Women's bodies metabolize nicotine faster, which can cause faster drops in nicotine levels after smoking a cigarette. This can cause you to feel a need (craving) to smoke the next cigarette sooner.
Smoking cessation medication can help you control these cravings.
Find a supportive social network
Women have been shown to be more influenced by their social network when it comes to quitting so:
- Find people who support your quit attempt and let them know what they can do to help you.
- Talk to your VA provider about quitting and getting counseling through one-on-one sessions or in a smoking cessation group.
- Call 1-855-QUIT-VET, VA's smoking quitline.
- Get text message support from SmokefreeVET.
Follow healthy ways to cope with stress
For many women, especially Veterans, smoking is a coping mechanism to deal with stress and other mental health conditions.
Find other ways to cope with stress besides smoking:
- PTSD Coach Online gives you tools to help manage stress.
- Discuss stress management during counseling with your health care provider, or with a counselor at 1-855-QUIT-VET.
Manage weight with exercise and healthy eating
You may worry about gaining weight if you quit smoking. Some women gain about 8-9 pounds after quitting. Food may taste a lot better once you quit, making it easier to overeat. Even if you gain a few pounds, you will have the same health benefits of quitting.
Your breathing will improve when you quit, which can make it easier to exercise. Regular exercise and healthy eating can reduce any weight gain you experience when quitting. Try using VA's MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans.
Enjoy the benefits of quitting
Quitting tobacco can improve your health in many ways and reduce the negative effects of tobacco use. By doing so you may experience:
- Improved lung function, making it easier to breathe
- Reduced risk of plaque buildup, pain, and numbness in your legs resulting from peripheral artery disease
- Reduced risk of all cancers, including lung, breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer
- Less chance of infertility, if you are trying to become pregnant
- Less depression
If you are pregnant and stop smoking early in pregnancy you will have a lower chance of:
- A premature birth
- A low birth weight baby
- Infant death
Quitting smoking will also reduce the risk of secondhand smoke and health problems for those around you.
Learn about other benefits of quitting for men and women.
Get help from VA
Talk to your women's health provider. VA women's health providers are trained to offer counseling and medication to all female Veterans interested in quitting smoking.
Veterans enrolled in VA health care have access to:
- Medication and counseling
- 1-855-QUIT VET (1-855-784-8838), VA's smoking quitline
- Text message support from SmokefreeVET
Not enrolled in VA health care? Find out if you're eligible.