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Smoking spells trouble for people with diabetes

Member news | Thursday, November 12, 2020

You may think you know all the risks. But lighting up can cause type 2 diabetes—or make it harder to manage.

Type 2 is the most common kind of diabetes. Smoking raises the risk of getting it by up to 40%. And the more you smoke, the greater your risk.

Smoking can also contribute to serious complications of diabetes like:

  • Heart and kidney disease.
  • Poor blood flow. That might lead to the loss of toes, a foot or a leg.
  • Nerve damage in your arms and legs. That can cause pain and weakness.
  • Eye problems that can lead to blindness.

Break free

Don't be discouraged if you've tried—without luck—to quit in the past. It often takes several tries to stop smoking for good. These five tips can help you make it stick this time:

  1. Commit to a quit date. Make it soon, so you don't change your mind.
  2. Reach out. Spread the word to family and friends that you want to quit and ask for their support. You might even line up a buddy to quit with you. Your doctor can also help you plan for success. Ask about medicines and support programs that might help you.
  3. Clear away temptation. Remove all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home, car and workplace.
  4. Change your routine. For example, do you always light up after a meal? Then chew gum or distract yourself with a walk.
  5. Don't let a slip-up derail you. Mistakes happen. Just recommit to quitting right away. You can do this!

Resources to help you quit

The California Smokers’ Helpline offers free telephone counseling and self-help materials. Call 1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887) or visit TTY users can call 1-800-933-4833.

Breathe California has trained instructors and programs to help you quit. Call them at 1-408-998-5865. These programs are available at no cost to you.*

There are also medications to help you quit. Most of these are covered by SCFHP. Ask your doctor for more information.

*Not available to Kaiser members. If you’re a KP member, visit for more information.

Sources: American Cancer Society; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institutes of Health