Time to Quit Smoking
Effects of Smoking, Benefits of Quitting Smoking, Tips to Quit Smoking
Smoking is an addiction. Nicotine is the component of cigarettes that is addictive. Nicotine, therefore, makes it very difficult (although not impossible) to quit. Almost immediately upon inhalation, the body responds to nicotine. An individual feels relaxed, calmer, and happier than before inhalation. These pleasant feelings reflect the physical side of addiction; but not smoking cigarettes causes craving for more cigarettes, irritability, impatience, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms. Indeed, these symptoms are of withdrawal from nicotine. Moreover, in due course of time, additional nicotine is desired to produce favourable effects and avoid symptoms of withdrawal.
By smoking, you can cause health problems not only for yourself but also for those around you. Smoking greatly increases the risk of having lung cancer, heart attack, chronic lung disease, stroke, and many other cancers. Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of breathing (respiratory) diseases.
Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, co-workers, and others who breathe in the smoker’s cigarette smoke, called second hand or passive smoking. Among infants up to 18 months of age, passive smoking is associated with many cases of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia each year. In addition, second hand smoke from a parent’s cigarette increases a child’s chance for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, worsens asthma and increases an infant’s risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Smoking is also harmful to the unborn foetus. If a pregnant woman smokes, her foetus is at an increased risk of miscarriage, early delivery (prematurity), stillbirth, infant death, and low birth weight.
Exposure to passive smoke can also cause cancer. Research shows non-smokers who reside with smokers have an increased risk for developing lung cancer when compared with non-smokers. Second hand smoke also increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. A teenager whose parents are both smokers is more than twice as likely to smoke. Even in households where only one parent smokes, young people are more likely to start smoking.
To quit smoking makes a difference right away in the way you feel. It lowers your blood pressure and reduces your pulse after only 20 minutes. Within a day oxygen and carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal and the risk of heart attack decreases. You can smell and taste food better. Your breath smells better. Your cough goes away. More significantly, in the long run, quitting cuts the risk of lung cancer, many other cancers, heart disease, stroke, and other lung or breathing (respiratory) diseases (for example, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema). Moreover, ex-smokers have better health than current smokers. For example, ex-smokers have fewer days of illness, fewer health complaints, and less frequent bouts with chronic bronchitis and pneumonia than current smokers. Finally, quitting smoking saves money.
Because it is bad for you is not good enough. To get motivated, you need a powerful reason. Maybe you want to protect your family from second hand smoke. Maybe you would like to look and feel younger. Or maybe the thought of lung cancer frightens you.
When you stop smoking, nicotine withdrawal may make you frustrated, depressed, restless or angry. Nicotine-replacement therapy can reduce this feeling. Studies suggest nicotine gum, lozenges and patches can help double your chances of quitting successfully when used with an intensive behavioural program.
There are pills that reduce craving by altering the areas of brain affected by nicotine. This change may also make smoking less satisfying if you do pick up a cigarette. Other drugs can help reduce troubling withdrawal symptoms, such as depression or inability to concentrate.
Tell your friends, family and co-workers that you are trying to quit. Behavioural therapy is a type of counselling that helps you identify and stick to quit-smoking strategies.
Certain activities may boost your urge to smoke. If coffee is a trigger, switch to tea for a few weeks. If you usually smoke after meals, find something else to do instead, like brushing your teeth or chewing gum.
Wash any clothes that smell like smoke and clean your carpets, draperies and upholstery. Use air freshener to help rid your home of that familiar scent.
It is very common to have a relapse. Examine the emotions and circumstances that lead to your relapse. Use it as an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to quitting. Once you have made the decision to try again, set a “quit date” within the next month.
Physical activity can reduce craving and ease some withdrawal symptoms. Even mild exercise is helpful, such as walking or riding a bike. The extra calories you burn will also ward off weight gain as you quit smoking.
Eat regular meals because feeling hungry is sometimes mistaken for the desire to smoke. Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Studies suggest these foods make cigarettes taste terrible.
In addition to the tremendous health benefits, one of the perks of giving up cigarettes is all the money you will save. Reward yourself by spending part of it on something fun.
by Dr Elif Arslanalp, LONDON (The Pen Magazine)