Bronchial tree graphicThis article was written by Nancy Rigotti, MD, Director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The best way to quit smoking is to combine FDA-approved stop-smoking medications with support to change smoking behavior.

Medications and coaching each work individually, but combining them is more effective than either one alone. Medications help smokers quit by reducing cravings for cigarettes and by controlling symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as irritability, restlessness, anxiety and trouble concentrating.

By reducing these symptoms, you reduce discomfort and increase your chances of success.

A trained tobacco treatment specialist can help you understand your smoking patterns, offer practical advice and support for quitting, and help you choose a smoking cessation medication.

Smokers find it very helpful to check in with a tobacco treatment specialist several times as they work on quitting.

Quitting smoking is associated with a lower risk for lung disease, heart disease, cancer and stroke. No matter how old you are or how many years you’ve smoked, you can lengthen your life and improve your quality of life by quitting smoking now. It’s never too late.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, you can find support to quit smoking at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

This was originally published by the Mass General Research Institute, the largest hospital-based research program in the United States.