Information from Seton Health

Patient Guide to Quitting Smoking

The Butt Stops Here will show you how tobacco rules your life. It will help you break free from tobacco, once and for all. Remember, you were not born a smoker, you had to learn how to make smoke. Now, you will learn how NOT to smoke.

Don’t rush your process. Everyone moves at their own pace. Keep a positive attitude, and remember that you’re worth the effort!

The Butt Stops Here will help you:

  • Practice not smoking.
  • Understand your addiction.
  • Change your attitude about smoking.
  • Understand why there is no such thing as failure.
  • Find ways to help you through the quitting process, like medication, behavior changes, guided imagery, relaxation techniques and daily action planning.
  • Develop short-term and long-term skills to keep you from relapsing.


The Center for Smoking Cessation at Seton Health

24 Aviation Road, Suite 204

Albany, NY 12205

Phone: (518) 459-2550

Fax: (518) 459-2633

Visit us online at:


Nicotine Dependence/Addiction

When you smoked your first cigarette, two things happened. Your lungs rejected it. You coughed, it burned, and your stomach felt queasy. What happened in your brain is a different story. Just seven seconds after you inhaled, the nicotine hit the reward centers in your brain. While your lungs are saying, “Ugh! Please stop and don’t do that again.” Your brain is saying, “Ahh, yes, keep it coming.” When a cigarette is inhaled, nicotine enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain in 7-10 seconds. This causes the brain to release chemicals that cause pleasure.

In the beginning, you get plenty of pleasure from smoking because of how nicotine effects the brain. But the fun doesn’t last long. The longer you smoke, the more dependent you become. The occasional cigarette becomes 20 or 30 a day. You are smoking now not because you want to, but because you have to. Your body has adjusted to a certain level of nicotine and when that level drops, withdrawal begins. Not smoking makes you feel nervous, angry, irritable, headachy, dizzy, tired and generally uncomfortable.

You smoke a cigarette to stop these symptoms, and it helps almost immediately. You feel “normal” again until the whole process starts over 20 minutes after your last cigarette.

You smoke because:

  • It has a relaxing, stimulating effect
  • For some, smoking makes you less hungry and helps control weight
  • Natural painkillers are released, so smoking helps reduce pain
  • It has been shown to improve concentration

Nicotine is the most addictive substance on the planet. Studies show it only takes 3 cigarettes to get addicted. About 90% of people who smoke, smoke addictively. Compare this to alcohol abuse where 10% of people who drink alcohol drink addictively.

Cigarettes have been made even more addictive with the help of tobacco companies. Tobacco is now blended with different plants to make cigarettes more addictive.

“I smoke because I like to smoke,” is a common statement. And you may honestly think that is true. But, the real reason you smoke is because it’s uncomfortable not to.

Chemicals Identified in Tobacco Products

There are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco products. Forty-three are known to cause cancer, and at least 400 are poisonous. Here is a sample:

Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Dioxide
Hydrogen Cyanide
Nitrogen Oxides
Formic Acid
Acetic Acid
Glycolic Acid
All tobacco contains nicotine, an addictive chemical.

Your Health and Smoking

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Half of all smokers who keep smoking will end up dying from a smoking-related illness.

Cancer: Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it is also linked to cancer of the mouth, nose, sinuses, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, ovary, cervix, stomach, colon, rectum, and acute myeloid leukemia.

Lung Diseases: Smoking greatly increases your risk of getting long-term lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases make it harder to breathe. Pneumonia is also included in the list of diseases caused or made worse by smoking.

Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Blood Vessel Diseases: Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as non-smokers. Smoking is a major risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles. Smoking also affects the walls of the vessels that carry blood to the brain (carotid arteries), which can cause strokes. Men who smoke are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (impotence) because of blood vessel disease.

Blindness and Other Problems: Smoking causes an increased risk of macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness in older people. It promotes cataracts, which cloud the lens of the eye. It also causes premature wrinkling of the skin, bad breath, gum disease, tooth loss, bad smelling clothes and hair, yellow fingernails.

Special Risks to Women and Babies: Women over 35 who smoke and use birth control pills have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots in the legs. Women who smoke have a lower birth weight baby. And low birth-weight babies are more likely to die, or have learning and physical problems.

Second Hand Smoke

United States Surgeon General – The Surgeon General concluded that:

  • Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer.
  • Every exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA in a way that leads to cancer.
  • Exposure to second hand smoke has an immediate adverse impact on the cardiovascular system, damaging blood vessels, making blood more likely to clot and increasing risks for heart attack and stroke.
  • Second hand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.
  • Children exposed to second hand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.
  • Exposure of adults to second hand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
  • The Scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke.

Third Hand Smoke

Third hand smoke is what clings to a person’s clothes, hair, furniture, drapes, and carpeting. Some particles are cancerous. Infants and children who are being held or who are on the floor or furniture may ingest these dangerous particles.

Are You Ready To Quit?

Quitting is a process, not a single act. Many smokers say they start trying to quit years before they finally do. There is no such thing as failure when it comes to quitting smoking. While some people can quit on their first try, statistics show that the average person makes 3 – 5 tries before they finally make the break. Every time you try is an important step in your process. How many serious tries have you made?

How Do You Know If You’re Ready? This can be hard to figure out. Where, in the chart below, are you right now? How many times have you done this cycle? Where were you a year ago? …Six months ago?



More Information

If you have questions or need support, contact your health care provider and the New York State Quitline at (866) 697-8487. If you would like more information about the Butt Stops Here Program and our facilitator training program visit our website at or call us at (518) 459-2550.