Smoking cessation

Lowering nicotine in cigarettes

Mallika Marshall, MD

Contributing Editor

With the intent of making cigarettes less addictive, the FDA has proposed lowering nicotine levels, which could also make it easier for smokers to quit.

Expert advice on how to quit smoking

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

People who are serious about quitting smoking want to know the most effective methods for doing so. For most people this is likely to be a combination of behavior strategies and medications, including nicotine replacement products that can be taken with other smoking cessation drugs.

Teens who use flavored e-cigarettes more likely to start smoking

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

E-cigarette smoking among teens is on the rise, and teens are more likely to transition from smoking e-cigarettes to smoking traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are marketed towards young people, emphasizing the need for dialogue between teens and the adults in their lives on the health risks surrounding this trend.

E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

While e-cigarettes do not produce the tar or toxic gases found in cigarette smoke, this doesn’t make them a healthy option. The e-liquid found in e-cigarettes still contains highly addictive nicotine that also increases your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Nicotine also increases the risk of addiction to other drugs and may impair brain development. Rather than rely on the perceived benefits of e-cigarettes, people should avoid smoking altogether.

Quitting smoking during the second half of the menstrual cycle may help women kick the habit

Hope Ricciotti, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Studies have shown that not only do women have a harder time quitting than men, but they also experience more severe health consequences from smoking. However, new research suggests that it may be easier for women to quit smoking during the second half of their menstrual cycle. During this time, the hormone progesterone is higher, and this appears to aid in quitting and avoiding relapse.

What’s the best way to quit smoking?

Wynne Armand, MD

Contributing Editor

Quitting smoking can add years to your life. The earlier the better, but the benefits of quitting are real and significant, even if you’re 80. There are several ways to quit and it often takes multiple attempts to become and ex-smoker for good. Research suggests that for some people, quitting “cold turkey” may be the most effective approach.

Lung disease in smokers who don’t have COPD

Wynne Armand, MD

Contributing Editor

You probably know that smoking has enormous consequences for your health. One of the most common is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disorder involving damage to the lungs. If you smoke, but you don’t have COPD, you may be tempted to think your lungs are relatively unharmed — but a recent study suggests that some smokers without COPD might still suffer lung damage.

We should be ashamed if we don’t pass Tobacco 21 laws

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Ninety percent of smokers had their first cigarette before turning 18. A movement to raise the legal age to buy tobacco in the United States to 21 hopes that making it more difficult for young people to start smoking may lead to a healthier population overall.

Low-nicotine cigarettes may help determined smokers cut back

Mallika Marshall, MD

Contributing Editor

A study examining the effects of low-nicotine cigarettes on smoking behavior yielded surprising results. The study volunteers who smoked the low-nicotine cigarettes actually smoked less and had fewer cigarette cravings than those who smoked cigarettes with a higher level of nicotine. Although more research is needed before we can draw any conclusions, it’s possible that very-low-nicotine cigarettes might be a way to mitigate the health dangers of smoking for people determined not to quit.

Smoking may increase risk of prostate cancer recurrence

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

The findings were presented at the American Urological Association annual meeting in May 2011.