Cigarettes Versus the Scale

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Feet on scale

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.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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