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HSS Smoking Cessation Resources

Ceasing the use of tobacco and nicotine is an essential component for healing after any surgery. We want you to have the best chance for quitting successfully. For this reason patients at HSS can have an appointment with a nurse practitioner specialized in behavioral and pharmacological approaches to smoking cessation.

Improve your chance for success and receive support to create a quit plan, learn about new cessation tools that may include medications, and set a quit date. Our goal is to stay in touch with you to keep you tobacco- and nicotine-free throughout your orthopedic journey.

Let us help get you started! Ask your surgeon and care team about our smoking cessation services.


Photo of a fist smashing cigarettes.

Why quit?

Deciding to quit smoking is one of the best choices you can make to improve your health and optimize your recovery. The use of nicotine products (whether from cigarettes, vapes, cigars, gums, e-cigs or patches) has been shown to increase risk of complications following surgery and slow down the process of surgical healing. Nicotine can interfere with bone and wound healing by decreasing important blood flow to the surgical site. It can also increase the risk of blood clot formation and, because it directly affects bone mineral density, increase the risk of fractures.

A decade’s worth of reasons to quit

The benefits of quitting are noticeable within 20 minutes of not smoking. For starters, you save the money you would have spent on tobacco! It only gets better from there.

After quitting for:

20 minutes

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

12 hours

  • Carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal and oxygen levels in the blood increase.

48 hours

  • Damaged nerve endings start to regrow.
  • Your ability to smell and taste is enhanced (restored to more normal levels).

72 hours

  • Your bronchial tubes relax, making it easier for you to breathe.
  • Coughing, congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease.

2 to 3 weeks

  • Circulation improves.
  • Chance of a heart attack decreases.
  • Your body is better able to fight infection.
  • Walking becomes easier.
  • Lung function increases up to 30%.

1 to 9 months

  • Sinus congestion decreases, and coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath all decrease further.
  • Cilia (important tissues which are destroyed by smoking) begin to regrow in the lungs. This increases your lung’s ability to clean itself and reduce the risks of infection.

1 year

  • Your risk of developing heart disease is cut in half.

5 years

  • Your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
  • Your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat or esophagus is half that of a smoker.

10 years

  • Your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

Why get support?

Unfortunately, nicotine is highly addictive and quitting can be hard. Reaching out for support and guidance can make a big difference. In fact, accessing support and medications can double your chances of becoming nicotine-free. Hospital for Special Surgery offers resources and services to help you quit smoking before surgery and stay nicotine-free during your recovery. Please discuss smoking cessation with your surgeon and care team, as we encourage you to stop smoking before surgery and during your recovery. If you are a smoker, HSS staff will ask whether you would like counseling and/or treatment.

Ready to quit? Create a quit plan

You know you should quit, you are ready to quit, but you just aren’t sure how to do it. Creating a quit plan improves your chances of staying nicotine and tobacco free. A quit plan helps you stay motivated, set expectations, identify triggers, prepare for cravings, and learn new coping skills and strategies.

Set a quit date

We encourage you to set a quit date at least four weeks prior to your surgery. Set yourself up for success – give yourself enough time to prepare and a date that isn’t already likely to be a stressful one.

Image of a broken cigarette on a calendar.

List your reasons for quitting

Your reason for quitting is the foundation for your quit plan. Write down your reasons for quitting to help you stay motivated. Reasons for quitting might include:

  • having a successful surgical outcome to improve my mobility and alleviate pain
  • improving my overall health
  • not exposing family or friends to second hand smoke
  • freedom from addiction
  • saving money

Understand your triggers

What makes you want to smoke? Being aware of your triggers can help you avoid them or plan ahead for dealing with whatever things, places or situations may make you want to reach for a cigarette.

What are your tobacco triggers?

  • social situations
  • alcohol
  • stress
  • drinking coffee
  • talking on the telephone

Dig deeper

Keep track – in a journal or on your mobile device – of when, where and what caused your urge to smoke. Notice the patterns in your smoking habits, and develop strategies to overcome them.

Quitting strategies

Seek support from a smoking cessation professional, and create a personalized smoking cessation plan for you that may include medications to help you quit.

  • Keep a diary of when and why you use tobacco to recognize your triggers and patterns of behavior.
  • Tell your friends! Ask for support in your efforts to be tobacco free.
  • Enlist a close friend or family member to help you reach your goal.
  • Surround yourself with others who do not use tobacco.
  • Create a tobacco-free environment: Throw away nicotine products, ash trays and lighters in your home and car.
  • Divert your attention away from tobacco use: Exercise or take a walk, play music or phone a friend.
  • Stay motivated: Write down your reasons for quitting and keep it on hand for reference.
  • Prepare for cravings.
  • Create a portable “quit kit” with evidenced-based tools to help manage any potential discomforts of quitting nicotine use, such as:
    • black pepper essential oil
    • cinnamon-flavored gum or cinnamon sticks
    • peppermint candies
    • tea bags
    • a fidget spinner, stress ball or other therapeutic device to relieve nervous energy
  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Take 10 deep breaths.
  • Keep trying new things until you find what works best for you.
  • Save a tobacco quit line number in your phone, and call it when you need to talk to a quit-smoking counselor.

Additional resources


Get more tools and information from these regional and national institutions.

  • New York State Quitline: Call 1.866.NY.QUITS or 1.866.697.8487 for a free phone consultation with a NYS tobacco cessation specialist. A quit coach will walk you through tips for quitting and additional resources available locally.
  • NY SmokeFree: The New York State Smokers’ QuitLine website provides information and tools for quitting, and links you to behavior and pharmaceutical resources.
  • SmokeFree: The National Cancer Institute offers an online tool for creating and implementing a Quit Plan.
  • CDC How 2 Quit: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on how to quit and inspiring stories from former smokers.
  • Freedom From Smoking: The American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking provides information and connects you to local experts to help you through the quitting process.

Smartphone apps

Smartphone apps can be helpful. Try an interactive way to stay on track with your quit plan.

  • QuitGuide: QuitGuide is a free app that helps you understand your smoking patterns and build the skills needed to become and stay smoke-free. You can also track cravings by time of day and location and get inspirational messages for each craving you track to keep you focused and motivated on your smoke-free journey. Download for:
  • Smoke Free: Marketed as “The stop smoking app that science built,” this free service offers 20 different evidence-based techniques to aid in smoking cessation. Download for:
  • quitSTART: This is a free app made for teens who want to quit smoking, but adults can use it too. This app takes the information you provide about your smoking history and gives you tailored tips, inspiration and challenges to help you become smoke-free and live a healthier life. Download for: