Health Effects of Smoking:
Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals and toxins. When you smoke these toxins are carried by your blood to every organ in your body. At the same time, the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke keeps red blood cells from carrying as much oxygen as normal. As a result, the cells throughout your body are deprived of the oxygen that they need to work properly.
Smoking increases the risk for these health problems:
- Weakened bones and hip fractures in older women
- Cancers of the blood, cervix, pancreas, stomach, kidneys, and bladder
- Gum disease and tooth loss
- Damage to the immune system and increased risk for infection
- Fertility problems in women
- Peptic ulcers
- Pregnancy complications and premature birth
- Premature aging and wrinkling of the skin
- Reduces your fitness levels - When you smoke you are more likely to have shortness of breath or get sick with coughs and colds. This may make it harder to play sport or stay fit.
- Changes your appearance - Smoking may cause your skin to break out, it can stain your teeth making them look yellow and it may also cause bad breath.
- Increased stress levels - It is common for people to use smoking as a way of dealing with their stress. Nicotine is a stimulant, which means that when you smoke your body is placed under stress. Therefore if you are already stressed out and you are smoking you make your body work harder and smoking may actually increase your stress levels.
So Why Do I Keep Smoking?
Because smoking is an addiction. Once you start smoking it may become very difficult to give it up. Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance meaning that it becomes something that your body relies on and finds it hard to do without. Remember you don't have to smoke a lot of cigarettes or smoke everyday to become addicted.
Why Should I Quit Smoking?
The good news for smokers who quit! In only a short time after quitting smoking:
- Taste and smell improves
- Skin improves
- Fitness improves
- Lungs begin to repair themselves and start getting rid of all the gunk that has been clogging them up
- You have lots more money
- You can stay inside with your friends and family instead of being outside, alone, smoking
How Do I Quit Smoking?
Quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding things a person can do. Most smokers' say they would like to quit, and may have tried at least once. Some are successful the first time, but many other people try a number of times before they finally give up for good. Quitting is different for everyone, so find an approach that will work for you. This may be either the cold turkey approach (stopping suddenly and totally) or a more gradual reduction in the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.
If you drink a lot of coffee, you may also want to cut down on your coffee intake as you will retain more caffeine when there is no nicotine in your system. Feeling jittery will not help your plan to quit. It may also be best to avoid alcohol as many people find it hard to resist smoking when they drink.
The following tips may be used to use to help you quit:
- Get as much support as you can from family, friends and work colleagues. Let them know you are planning to quit, and ask smokers not to smoke around you or offer you cigarettes. Quitting with a friend can also be an excellent idea — you can share your feelings and encourage each other.
- Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters and anything else that might remind you of smoking. Wash your clothes and clean your car to remove the smell of smoke.
- Nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches or chewing gum, could be a good idea for those who smoke heavily or who feel they may need the extra help. There are also medicines available on prescription, such as varenicline (brand name Champix) and bupropion (brand name Zyban) that can help you quit by reducing withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. Talk to your doctor about what would be best for you.
- Plan ahead for situations in which you are likely to be tempted to smoke, such as parties, drinking or going out for coffee. Try to avoid these situations in the early stages of your quitting programme, or try sitting in the non-smoking section at restaurants, drinking your coffee standing up or with the other hand, or keeping something in your hand when you're talking on the phone.
- Write down all the reasons that made you decide to quit smoking, and carry them with you in case you need reminding!
- Keep the following 4 Ds in mind when you have a craving.
- Delay: remember that the worst cravings last for only a few minutes and will become even less frequent the longer you have quit.
- Deep breathe: this should help you relax and focus your mind on something else.
- Drink water: it is a good idea to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the nicotine and other toxins out of your system.
- Do something else: you could go for a walk, to the movies or visit a supportive friend. Try eating an apple or cleaning your teeth when you would normally have a cigarette. You could hold something else, such as a pen or beads, to replace the need to hold a cigarette, or chew some gum or eat or drink a healthy snack to have something other than a cigarette in your mouth.