OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
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Fadi Sabbagh, MD

Smoking Cessation plan for success

Fadi Sabbagh, MD
Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine,
Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
Eau Claire Medical Clinic

Cigarette smoking causes 400,000 premature deaths annually in the United States.

These deaths result mainly from heart attacks, lung cancer and emphysema. To avoid being one of these statistics, it is important to quit as soon as possible for your self and those who may be exposed to the secondhand smoke.

Smoking is an extremely addictive habit. Most former smokers make multiple attempts to quit before they succeed, so never say, “I can’t.” Keep trying. You will succeed.

Have a plan.

In order to quit smoking, plan ahead. Set a firm quit date (quit buying cigarettes, tell your friends and family and ask for their support, talk to your primary care provider to seek their assistance). This will avoid “after the holidays” or “when the tax season is over” procrastination.

The day before your quit date

  • Put away lighters and ashtrays
  • Throw away all cigarettes and matches (no emergency stashes)
  • Clean your clothes and freshen your car and home to get rid of the smell of cigarettes

Quit Day

  • Schedule activities to keep you busy
  • Remind family and friends
  • Stay away from alcohol
  • Do something special to celebrate your commitment

When you quit smoking your body goes to work to repair damaged tissues. You will immediately begin to decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, strokes and circulation problems. Your doctor can help you quit smoking by offering advice and encouraging you along the way, in addition we now have medications we can prescribe to increase your chance of success.

Most patients are aware of nicotine replacement products (patch, gum, and inhaler) which are usually available over the counter, fairly safe and help with the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, but they are sometimes not enough to lead to complete cessation.

Prescription Medications can help.

There are prescription medications like Bupropion (Zyban) which had been used as an antidepressant, but recently was found to help smokers quit smoking, with minimal side effects. Another new prescription medication is CHANTIX™ (varenicline); specifically developed to help people quit smoking. Studies have proven it to be more effective than Zyban. Roughly 50% of people who took CHANTIX™ (varenicline) ceased smoking by the end of the 12-week study. There are receptors for nicotine in the brain. When smoke is inhaled, nicotine attaches to these receptors. This sends a message to a different part of the brain to release a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine gives a feeling of pleasure, but it only lasts for a short time and then the body wants to repeat this feeling. Based on research, it is believed that CHANTIX™ (varenicline) works by activating these receptors and blocking nicotine from attaching to them. Patients taking CHANTIX™ (varenicline) should try to quit smoking one week after starting the medication, and treatment should be continued for 12 weeks. This medication is well tolerated, but common side effects include nausea and abnormal dreams.

Once you quit, commit to staying quit. For most people, smoking is both a physical and behavioral addiction.

  • Try chewing gum as a substitute for cigarettes; spend time with nonsmokers rather than smokers; sit in the nonsmoking section of a restaurant.
  • Start an exercise program. As you become fit, you will not want the nicotine effects in your body. In addition, regular exercise will keep you from gaining weight when you quit.
  • Keep your hands busy, change your routine, meet new people and join special interest groups that keep you involved in a hobby or activity.

Talk to your healthcare provider. They are always ready to help you. Quitting can be hard work, but you can learn to live without cigarettes and be on the road to a healthier life. Patients are advised to reach for the support offered by medical centers and organizations. Some of the current available free web sites include:


For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fadi Sabbagh, Eau Claire Medical Clinic, call 715.839.9280 or visit www.eauclairemedical.com. Dr. Sabbagh sees patients in Eau Claire, Cumberland and Rice Lake.