Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

It is hard to quit smoking because the nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products gets you hooked and keeps you hooked. Most people try as many as three times to quit before they are able to do so.

Look at quitting smoking as a process instead of a one-time event. That way, if you do slip, you can focus on what to change to prevent future slips. Think of all the benefits you will receive by quitting smoking. If you quit, you will:

  • Prolong your life
  • Improve your health
  • Feel healthier (Smoking can cause coughing, sore throats, and decreased energy level.)
  • Look better (Smoking can cause face wrinkles, stained teeth, and dull skin.)
  • Improve your sense of taste and smell
  • Save money (Most smokers spend about $90 a month on cigarettes.)

People who smoke have a higher risk of getting diabetes. If you already have diabetes, smoking makes managing the disease more difficult. Smoking-related complications of diabetes include retinopathy (eye disease), heart disease, stroke, vascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and/or foot problems.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/01/2015.


  • Nides M. Update on Pharmacologic Options for Smoking Cessation Treatment. The American Journal of Medicine. (2008). Vol.121(4A)S20-S31.
  • Tom W-C. Smoking Cessation Drug Therapy: An Update. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter. January 2011-Vol.27-No. 270111
  • Leonard M. Medications Used for Smoking Cessation. Pharmacotherapy Update from the Cleveland Clinic Department of Pharmacy Newsletter Volume IX, No. III May/June 2006.
  • FDA updates label for stop smoking drug Chantix (varenicline) to include potential alcohol interaction, rare risk of seizures, and studies of side effects on mood, behavior, or thinking. fda.gov Accessed 4/20/2015.
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy Labels to Change. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter. June 2013-No. 290602
  • Le Houeze J, Aubin HJ. Pharmacotherapies and harm-reduction options for the treatment of tobacco dependence. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2013;14(14):1959-67.
  • Early smoking reduction or cessation by means of no nicotine electronic cigarette added to standard counseling. clinicaltrials.gov Accessed 4/20/2015.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy