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Drugs & Health Blog

Cigarettes Versus the Scale

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Have you ever heard friends say they’d like to quit smoking, but they are afraid they’ll gain weight if they stop?

Some people do experience a slight weight gain after they quit smoking. It could be that smokers trying to quit may reach for food for the same reasons they used cigarettes—to deal with stress or boredom or to be social.

The good news is that research shows that by 6 months, many people start losing this extra weight (typically less than 10 pounds) as they adjust to becoming non-smokers.

When you think about the many health benefits of quitting smoking, it’s easy to see far more pros than cons, tobacco use being the number one preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.

Photo of a girl breaking a cigarette in half.

Here are some ways you can keep weight gain to a minimum while making the healthy life choice to leave those cigarettes behind.

Choose healthy foods. Fill your plate with fruits and veggies and lean meats like fish or grilled chicken.

Get moving! Exercise reduces stress and boredom, increases your metabolism, and can even help you get a better night’s sleep. Consider joining a class with a friend to help keep you motivated.

Drink more water. Skip the sugary soft drinks and make sure you drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day.

Watch your portions. Many people eat far more than the recommended serving size, and many restaurants serve huge portions of food! But remember, you don’t have to eat everything at one meal—take half of it home for lunch the next day.

To learn more about weight as it relates to quitting smoking, see Forever Free: Smoking and Weight, a publication from the National Cancer Institute.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


It's National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery this month - September 2011. Show someone you know who is struggling with addiction that you care. Visit a detox center if you can't quit smoking on your own. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]


Some people may think gaining a little weight is bad...but when you keep smoking your ruining your lungs and increasing you chance of getting cancer. From smoking you could get lung cancer, or throat and mouth cancer. If it were me that were in the position...i would rather gain weight then die of cancer, and also smoking causes 1 in 10 adults death each year, so think about it next time you light up your cigarette.

Most people who quit smoking worry about gaining weight.I will say that if you gain a few pounds while going through the process of quitting tobacco, so be it...quitting smoking is much more important concern than gaining weight as there are a number of choices you can make to minimize weight gain. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]