Tobacco use can lead to serious health problems, including cancer of the lungs, throat, and head and neck. Since the mid-1990s, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Tobacco Cessation Program has helped thousands of individuals stop using tobacco products.
Our team of tobacco cessation experts provides assistance to those diagnosed with cancer, people who have never had cancer, and cancer survivors. Our program is open to everyone. We frequently work with physicians in the community to set up customized tobacco cessation plans for patients concerned about the effect of tobacco on their health.
Stopping the use of tobacco — whether it is smoked, chewed, or inhaled — is challenging in part because the body becomes addicted to tobacco’s nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal can cause powerful cravings and unpleasant symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes.
Our Tobacco Cessation Program draws on a wide range of approaches to help you quit. We use safe and effective medications and the latest behavioral techniques to help you break this physical addiction and become skilled in using diverse strategies to resist urges to smoke.
We begin with an individual one-hour consultation designed to help us learn about you, your tobacco use and quitting history, your readiness to quit, your ways of coping with stress, your social support for quitting, and other issues that can help or hinder your attempt to quit and stay quit. We will also review your medical history and current health status.
We work with you to develop a personalized quitting plan that will maximize your chances of success. And we will do it at your own pace, so that you feel comfortable with the timing of the goals we set together.
Therapies can include nicotine replacement and other tobacco cessation medications, along with practical behavioral strategies for managing tobacco urges and cravings. We also teach relaxation, stress management techniques, and mood management approaches, and offer counseling in individual and group settings.
Preventing a relapse of tobacco use after quitting is central to our approach, and we provide coaching on specific skills for preventing or handling “slips” and maintaining long-term success.
For People with Cancer
For people who have been diagnosed with cancer — even if the cancer is not tobacco related — quitting can help to lessen the risk of complications during surgery, speed recovery from an operation, lessen the risk for side effects, improve the response to chemotherapy and radiation, and possibly enable you to live longer. Among the other potential benefits, quitting has also been shown to lower the risk of cancer returning and the development of new cancers.
As a cancer center team, we are knowledgeable about the unique concerns and challenges of people with cancer. And while people with cancer are actually among the most successful at quitting, we understand that it is hard — especially as you struggle to cope with the stress of a serious illness.
Health Benefits of Quitting
Health benefits to stopping the use of tobacco begin almost immediately. Within 24 hours, your heart rate returns to normal, your blood level of carbon monoxide (which reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen) declines, and your risk of a heart attack decreases. Over time, your lung function improves significantly.
You will also likely feel and look healthier, save money, and protect other people from secondhand exposure to smoke.
Learn more about our expertise and research involving tobacco cessation.
As a leading provider of cancer care, we provide our staff, patients, and their families a healthy, tobacco-free environment. Smoking or use of other tobacco products is not allowed inside our outside the hospital.