Stop smoking

Smoking not only damages your own body, but also harms passive smokers in your immediate vicinity.


Smoking not only damages your own body, but also harms passive smokers in your immediate vicinity. The harmful substances often cause lung disorders such as chronic coughing, and the long-term risk of lung cancer is high. Giving up smoking is worthwhile at any age, and there are several methods to help you stop.


Symptoms associated with tobacco consumption

  • Chronic bronchitis (smoker's cough)
  • Reduced sports performance
  • Cardiovascular problems (heart attack, stroke, etc.)
  • Pregnant women: damage to the unborn child
  • COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (coughing with phlegm, shortness of breath, an oxygen mask often needs to be worn permanently in the final stage)
  • Hoarseness (possible sign of laryngeal cancer)
  • Coughing blood (possible sign of lung cancer)

Symptoms associated with stopping smoking

  • Strong craving for smoking
  • Irritability, anxiety, depression
  • Fatigue, insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite, weight gain

Causes and treatment

Smoking and its possible effects

Every cigarette is harmful, even for passive smokers. The effects are different for everybody. How long you’ve smoked and the number of cigarettes also play a role. Approx. 4,000 substances irritate the airways, and some 90 of them are carcinogenic. The consequences of smoking include:

  • Dependence, addiction
  • Frequent colds (airways are affected)
  • Reduced physical performance (reduced absorption of oxygen by the lungs, in particular because of carbon monoxide)
  • Cardiovascular problems (smoking promotes arterial calcification, which can lead to heart attack or stroke)
  • Long-standing arterial calcification in the legs can even cause tissue death
  • Discoloured teeth, gradual shrinking of gums (periodontitis)
  • Faster ageing of the skin (skin receives less blood)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced sense of smell (which means that food smells less good)
  • Wound healing disorders (skin receives less blood)
  • Development of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Higher risk of stomach and intestinal ulcers
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Thrombosis (formation of blood clots, mostly in the legs), embolism (blood clot has dislodged)
  • Higher risk of diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
  • Higher risk of cancer: lungs, oesophagus, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, larynx, etc.

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Lung function test by doctor
  • Examination of cardiovascular system (e.g. ECG, heart ultrasound)
Possible therapies
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (in groups or individually with the doctor)
  • Hypnosis
  • Nicotine replacement (skin patches, medication, gum)
  • Acupuncture

“Milestones” after giving up smoking

  • After 20 minutes: heart rate normalises
  • After 12 hours: carbon monoxide in the blood drops to a normal level
  • After 2 to 3 weeks: heart attack risk is reduced, lung function is normal
  • After 1 to 9 months: smoker's cough and shortness of breath have improved
  • After 1 year: risk of cardiovascular disease has halved
  • After 5 to 15 years: risk of a stroke is the same as for non-smokers

What can I do myself?

Tips for successfully giving up smoking

  • Write down the reasons for giving up smoking
  • Define a date for stopping, smoke “the last cigarette” mindfully
  • Find out about the different methods for stopping smoking and choose one
  • Ask the people around you for support
  • It's easier if there are two of you; try to find someone to give up smoking with you, motivate one another
  • Remove all smoking utensils from your private space (ashtrays, lighters, old cigarette boxes, etc.)
  • Avoid places where there's a lot of smoking
  • Try to find an alternative to smoking a cigarette, e.g. a piece of chocolate or going for a walk
  • Plan small awards for reaching milestones, e.g. a massage after the first week, etc.
  • Lots of exercise and a healthy diet

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendation now.

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Swiss Lung Association (Lungenliga Schweiz)

Stop-tobacco (Stop-Tabak)

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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