Smoke and tobacco-free living for cancer patients

A cancer diagnosis is typically a time of stress and anxiety, and quitting smoking or other tobacco use may seem impossible, or even futile. But it is never too late. Whether you are a long-term cancer survivor or newly diagnosed, quitting is always beneficial. Cancer patients who quit smoking or other tobacco use experience both psychological and physical benefits.

For more information:
Call: 916-734-0718

Benefits include:

  • Longer survival
  • A better chance of successful treatment
  • Fewer and less serious treatment side effects
  • Faster recovery from treatment
  • Decreased risk of secondary cancers
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Easier breathing
  • More energy
  • Better quality of life

Healing and health benefits start as soon as 20 minutes after you quit smoking.
Blood pressure and pulse return to normal
8-12 HOURS
Blood oxygen and carbon monoxide levels return to normal
Ability to taste and smell is greatly improved
Breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase
2-12 WEEKS
Circulation improves and lung function increases
Excess risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by about half and declines gradually hereafter

After 42 years of smoking, I finally realized it’s time to get involved in my health. It’s been three months and 14 days – that’s 2,315 cigarettes I haven’t smoked and $1,100 I haven’t spent
— Lawrence Glaser, lung cancer patient

The class and interaction and discussion are invaluable. Besides all of the techniques they give you, to be able to go to class and talk about what you are going through is really good.
— Steven Berkstresser, bladder cancer patient

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, we provide a range of free resources to help you quit. We offer compassionate services through workshops, classes and telephone support.

These include:

Register for class and receive a free quit kit

In addition, the California Smokers Helpline provides one-to-one telephone counseling for people who want to quit. This free service doubles the chances of quitting. They also provide free educational materials and online services:

Nicotine addiction is very isolating. Guilt and shame are a big part of the struggle when someone has repeatedly tried to quit and failed. This failure chips away at a person’s confidence and the addiction becomes overwhelming and utterly compulsive. Our program can support patients on this journey, guiding them through the challenges of this addiction.
Cari Shulkin, UC Davis tobacco treatment specialist


Dr. Elisa Tong discusses the California Helpline.


Cancer Center Cessation Initiative

Moreen SharmaMoreen Sharma, B.S., C.H.E.S.
Health Educator
Moreen is a certified health education specialist who has been with UC Davis Health since 2012. She brings dedication to the work she does while promoting, maintaining and improving our classes and programs. Moreen is a compassionate health educator who facilitates self-management classes for people with chronic conditions. She is also currently working toward becoming a tobacco treatment specialist.

Cari Shulkin Cari Shulkin, R.N.-B.C., B.S.N.
Cari is a registered nurse, board certified in cardiac vascular nursing and as a tobacco treatment specialist. She has worked at UC Davis Health since 1990. She joined the education team in 2012 with her primary focus being tobacco cessation education as well as self-management of heart and lung disease.

Elisa TongElisa Tong, M.D., M.A.
Elisa Tong is a general internist who helps take care of patients in the clinic and hospital settings. Her area of interest is in tobacco cessation and its cross-cutting impact on health and wellness for smokers and their families. Dr. Tong's research interests are in tobacco control policy and cessation, with special interests in secondhand smoke, diverse and underserved populations (particularly Asians), and health systems change.

Terri WolfTerri Wolf, M.S., R.N.
Terri Wolf is a registered nurse with extensive experience caring for oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. She is an educator and workshop leader who focuses on wellbeing in patients and staff. Terri is currently managing a program to support cancer patients in quitting smoking and tobacco products.

In a 2010 article, UC Davis researchers found that patients with head and neck cancers who did not quit smoking prior to radiation therapy had poorer outcomes and were more likely to experience a cancer recurrence within five years of treatment. View article »

To support your health while getting care at the Cancer Center, we have a smoke and tobacco-free campus. Please do not smoke on UC Davis property or allow your friends or caregivers to smoke while visiting our campus. For those with an urge to smoke we offer free nicotine lozenges to visitors and staff to curb cravings. Patients may ask their health care team for medications to support not smoking. For more information on smoking cessation options, visit the UC Davis Health Management and Education web page or have your health care provider send a referral.