The Benefits of Smoking Cessation


Herbie S. Bryan, MD, FCCP
McLeod Pulmonologist

The leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States is smoking. In addition, more than 16 million people are living with a disease caused by smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health effects of smoking include cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The statistics surrounding smoking are staggering with 34 million U.S. adults currently smoking and 480,000 Americans dying each year from smoking which accounts for nearly one in five deaths. However, people at any age, even those who have smoked for years or smoked heavily can benefit from quitting.

The health benefits of quitting smoking include:

  • Improvement in health status and quality of life
  • Reduction in the risk of premature death and it can add as much as 10 years to life expectancy
  • Lower risk of 12 types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and COPD

Fortunately, today there are evidenced-based treatments to help individuals quit smoking such as counseling and medications. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these medications include nicotine replacement therapy and non-nicotine medications. Data has shown that using these FDA-approved cessation medications combined with counseling can more than double your chance of quitting successfully.

Nicotine replacement therapy includes such options as over-the-counter skin patches, lozenges and chewing gum. These products are designed to help smokers gradually withdraw from smoking by using controlled amounts of nicotine that decrease over time while sparing the individual from other chemicals found in cigarettes.

There are also two prescription cessation medicines approved by the FDA that do not contain nicotine – Chantix and Zyban. Chantix works by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain to decrease the rewarding effects of nicotine and reduce the negative symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Zyban is believed to affect chemicals in the brain that are related to nicotine craving.

At McLeod, we now offer a smoking cessation clinic involving one-on-one sessions with Carolina Hewitt, NP, our certified Smoking Cessation Specialist, to help individuals take that next step in the process of quitting tobacco use.

The clinic is designed to explore an individual’s tobacco use and create a plan that will address their needs and goals. Participants do not have to be prepared to quit on the first visit and, if interested, nicotine replacement therapy resources and prescription cessation medicines are available.

The smoking cessation clinic is held each Friday in the McLeod Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates office located at 401 East Cheves Street, Suite 202 in Florence, SC. Individuals can be referred by their primary care physician or self-refer by calling (843) 777-7863.

Dr. Herbie Bryan cares for patients with Dr. Vinod Jona, Dr. Carmen Taype-Roberts, and Nurse Practitioner Carolina Hewitt at McLeod Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates in Florence. Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Disease, Dr. Bryan provides treatment to patients with lung conditions including COPD, asthma, lung cancer, interstitial lung disease, shortness of breath and cough as well as sleep apnea and infectious lung diseases. A native of Jamaica, Dr. Bryan joined McLeod in 2021 and continues his more than 40 years of service as a physician.