woman breaking cigarette

Gaining knowledge and understanding of your health is the first step toward becoming an active self-manager. UC Davis Health offers workshops, classes and support as we work together to educate and empower you to quit tobacco.

We know how hard it is to quit tobacco and we understand that you will need help and guidance as you learn how to quit. Health Management and Education offers classes to patients and staff of UC Davis Health to help them quit tobacco. We have different options for classes as well as we have an on line video you can watch now to learn more about quitting.

1) 70% of adult smokers would like to quit

2) Smoking cessation programs help increase a person's success of being smoke free six times more than quitting on one's own. Find more information on free classes.

3) In 2013, states collected approximately $25.7 billion from tobacco taxes and legal settlements, but spent less than 2 percent of that on tobacco control programs.

4) Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

5) A single cigarette contains over 7,000 chemicals, over 60 of which are known to cause cancer.

6) Some of the chemicals cigarettes contain are: arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.

7) Several active ingredients and special methods of production are involved in making sure the nicotine in a cigarette is many times more potent than that of a tobacco plant.

8) Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled. It has been found in every part of the body and in breast milk.

9) The immune system of smokers has to work harder every day than that of non-smokers.

10) Exposure to secondhand smoke causes nearly 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone.

Your Amazing Healing Body!
Within 20 minutes of quitting your body begins a series of healing changes that continues for years.

These are symptoms of healing: 

20 minutes after your last cigarette
Your heart rate drops
12 hours after quitting
Carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal
3 weeks to 3 months
Circulation improves; lung function improves up to 30%
1 month-9 months
Lung cilia return, ability to clear the lungs of mucous increases
Coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath decreases
1 year
Risk of coronary heart disease decreases to half that of a continued smoker
5 years
Risk of stroke is reduced to that of people who never smoked
10 years
Lung cancer death rate drops to half that of a continued smoker; risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases

It’s never too late to quit!

(Source: http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/how-to-quit/why-quit/benefits-of-quitting/)

  • Explain to others what your plan is, and ask for understanding during the first few weeks or few months when relapse has the highest likelihood to occur
  • If someone you are close to also smokes, ask them to quit with you or request that they do not smoke around you
  • Be specific when asking for support, and if need be, set boundaries of smoke free areas around you
  • Choose to meet friends at a park, a smoke free restaurant, or any smoke free places
  • Get support from others by talking one-on-one or in a support group
  • Don't forget, your health care team is also a great support system to keep in touch with
  • For UC Davis Health patients:
    • UC Davis Health offers a smoking cessation program designed to give you the information and support you need to successfully quit
    • Smoke-free support groups meet monthly and are offered  as a drop in class.
    • For more information call Health Management & Education at (916) 734-0718

As you start making behavior changes you may feel resistance from yourself to follow through with your plans.

Goal setting can be the key to success because it provides a personal stepwise plan on how to reach your goal; it may help you ease towards making behavior changes.

Each time you set a goal, no matter how big or small, and achieve it, it is a victory over your addiction.

Reaching your goal is a great motivator and confidence builder. Each victory is proof of your power over the addiction.

For years medications were not dosed correctly and the treatment plan was not long enough; therefore, smokers were unsuccessful.

  • As part of the treatment plan, medication is now advised to be taken for 3 months, and can be continued for a longer time, if needed.
  • Combination therapy, which includes long acting and short-acting medications, is the key to managing cravings.
  • It takes 3 months to build new coping skills. In those three months it is important to have some type of medication to deal with urges, and to continue to build new coping skills for a healthier lifestyle.
  • Research shows that success rate doubles with the use of medication.
  • The type of medication available for smoking cessation are long acting and short acting nicotine replacement therapy such as: Wellbutrin/Buproprine, Chantix, nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, nicotine inhaler, nicotine spray.

 More details about medications can be found here (pdf)

* Before taking any medication it is important to talk to your doctor. Treatment plans need to be monitored closely by your doctor.

When you started smoking, you probably didn't intend to smoke forever. You thought you could quit whenever you wanted. You may have found that quitting is harder than you thought. Smoking is an addiction. It is important to understand what you are up against because an addiction is not just a 'bad habit.'

Why is it difficult to quit for good:

  • According to the doctor's ranking of addictiveness, nicotine is the most addictive drug. Nicotine is more addictive than methamphetamine, cocaine, crack, alcohol, heroin, caffeine, and marijuana.
  • Addiction is a dependence on a drug. For a smoker, the addictive drug is nicotine. When you are addicted, you are not able to control your drug use and you continue using despite the harm it causes.
  • The tobacco company's goal is to get you addicted to their product as quickly as possible. They use high concentrations of added nicotine in their products.
  • Nicotine addiction is a cycle. The brain generates a craving, you then inhale new nicotine, then the brain releases dopamine (a feel good chemical). When the blood levels of nicotine starts to drop, the brain generates another craving for you to smoke again.


Sorting out why you want to stop tobacco is a good start. Make a list of reasons why you want to quit tobacco Your reasons should be personal, meaningful to you, such as:

  • Do you want to be healthier?
  • Do you hate the smell of smoke on you?
  • Is quitting for your family, your loved ones, your pet?

Take your personal reasons and post them in areas that will remind you why it's important for you to be smoke free. You may want to use sticky notes and/or pictures and post them on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, in your car, by your smoking place, in your office, etc.

It is important to start thinking of your cigarettes differently, and your personal reasons will be one of the best ways to help you on your journey of becoming smoke free.
Review your personal reasons daily!

 Click below to determine how much money you'll save once you quit smoking! 

Cost of smoking     Cost of Smoking  (pdf)


Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for serious health problems like, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), P.A.D. (peripheral arterial disease), bronchitis, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Any amount of smoking, even light smoking or occasional smoking, damages the heart and blood vessels. For some people, such as women who use birth control pills and those who have diabetes, smoking causes an even greater risk to the heart and blood vessels.

Dangers of carbon monoxide when smoking:

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless gas that is present in all tobacco smoke. Carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells. When tissues in the body do not receive a continuous and adequate supply of oxygen they become starved, fail, and die.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke harm heart and blood vessels in many ways

For example, tobacco smoke chemicals:

  • thicken blood and make it harder for your blood to carry oxygen
  • increase your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder than normal
  • lower your HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), and raise your LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol). Smoking also raises your triglycerides (another type of fat found in the blood).
  • disturb normal heart rhythms.
  • damage blood vessel walls, making them stiff and less elastic (stretchy). This damage narrows the blood vessels and adds to the damage caused by unhealthy cholesterol levels.
  • contribute to inflammation, which may cause plaque buildup in your arteries.


A lapse is a slip or mistake. You perform a behavior you are trying to avoid. It's common to experience. It is usually triggered by stress, low mood, tiredness, or ill health.

A relapse means going back to your previous pattern of unwanted behavior.

A study compared people who lapsed, but eventually stopped smoking with those who lapsed and relapsed completely.

Of those that lapsed, but succeed in quitting, 100% said they had some plan for coping following their lapse.

  1. Forgiveness- don't beat yourself up or call yourself a failure. See the situation for what it is; a slip up. Appreciate yourself for your awareness and your ability to take the situation and turn it into a lesson to be learned. This experience will make you stronger, so be grateful, learn and grow.
  2. Learn from you lapse- ask yourself questions such as what was happening, who was I with, what was I feeling, what needed to be in place for me to have handled it better?
  3. Create a plan- have a plan in place for managing any situation where you may experience triggers.
  4. Practice healthy strategies- to manage a trigger experience carry your NRT (nicotine replacement therapy), drink water,
    have healthy snacks, go for a walk, and/or phone a support person.
  5. Know your triggers- identify your high risk situations.

             Relapse prevention

I had tried everything to quit smoking, but nothing worked for me until I went to this group. I did not know what to expect, but the moment I walked in I knew this would be different. Just having other people in my same situation, experiencing the same thoughts and emotions to talk to was different because while I had people who loved me and wanted me to quit they couldn’t help me because they didn’t really know what the addiction was like and how strong it was. Cari played a vital part in my quitting.  Besides all the great information she brought to us, she made the group fun and made it feel like we were family. Quitting smoking has changed my life – I am free now!” ~ A.C., Sacramento

I had been a smoker for 30 + years and even though my daughter would regularly ask that I quit so I would be around to see HER future children, it was when the Med Center announced they were going to go “Smoke Free” that I decided I would try to do the same.  I enrolled in Cari Shulkin’s Smoking Cessation program.  Almost 5 years later, I am still smoke free and I owe my success to Cari’s program.  The advice, the support, and knowing what was going to happen next and what our bodies would be trying to tell us or what we could possible feel/experience, was so helpful that when I completed the program – SMOKE FREE, I wondered why I didn’t do this YEARS ago.  I honestly don’t know if I would have been so successful had I not taken Cari’s Smoking Cessation classes, but I feel truly blessed that I did and that I am on my way to a healthier, longer life.  Thanks, Cari, and to your team of specialists, that make this program a true life saver!!” ~ S.M., Sacramento