Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Quit Smoking - Part I

There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke including formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies); ammonia (used in strong cleaning liquids) and cadmium (a highly poisonous metal used in batteries). Stopping smoking represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives. Quitting #smoking is not easy, but it can be done. To have the best chance of quitting successfully, you need to know what you’re up against, what your options are; this article will provide you with some of this information.

Why do people start to smoke?
Common reasons for starting include peer pressure, the desire to be ‘grown-up’, natural curiosity and a sense of rebellion or freedom. Youngsters with parents who smoke are particularly susceptible. Children see adults smoking in an attempt to relieve stress, tension and boredom. Adult smokers may appear more confident and better able to cope and children want to mimic this ‘grown-up’ behavior. Very few people start to smoke after the age of 20. Smokers who started as teenagers may have found themselves unconsciously seduced. Many actors, film stars and singers smoke. Indeed, it could be argued that smoking is sold as a lifestyle rather than a product and the illusion of style is that smoking is a ‘cool thing’ to do.

Why do people continue to smoke?
The main factors that contribute to people continuing to smoke are the physical addiction to nicotine, the daily rituals around the habit and the emotional and psychological dependence.
Physical addiction
Nicotine is a drug found naturally in tobacco and is highly addictive. Over time, the body becomes both physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. When smoke is inhaled, nicotine is carried deep into the lungs, where it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body. Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including your heart and blood vessels and your brain. Nicotine can be found in breast milk of smokers. During pregnancy, nicotine freely crosses the placenta and has been found in the umbilical cord blood of newborn infants. Nicotine produces pleasant feelings that make the smoker want to smoke more. After a while, the smoker develops a tolerance and then smokes to maintain this level of nicotine. In fact, nicotine, when inhaled in cigarette smoke, reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body by way of injections!
Psychological and emotional dependence
Smoking means different things to different people. For many, cigarettes are a friend, a relief from boredom, and are also seen as a form of stress relief. For those on a low income, smoking is often identified as their ‘one luxury ’.
Many smokers believe that smoking relieves stress and there is no doubt that nicotine withdrawal may be followed by unpleasant mood changes. Stress levels can worsen withdrawal, strongly linking tobacco use with poor emotional and mental health. Instead of seeing smoking as a stress reliever, it would be a real breakthrough if the person was able to identify smoking as one of the prime reasons of stress. Talking to a friend or family member about what is causing the stress could be a good way to clearly identify just how smoking is a contributory factor.

Benefits of quitting
Half of all smokers die early from a smoking related disease and one in four smokers die in middle age (35-64) as a result of their habit. Diseases caused by smoking can cause a great deal of pain and suffering for smokers and their loved ones. Additionally, the sudden loss of an only parent can be particularly hard for the surviving children. There are many serious and fatal diseases directly caused by smoking.
The following are the most common causes of smoking-related death:
• Coronary heart disease, which may result in heart attack, or other vascular disease, perhaps leading to stroke.
• Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which may include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Infections such as pneumonia are more likely to be fatal
• Lung cancer, as well as most other forms of cancer.
• In addition, impotence, peptic and duodenal ulcers and fertility problems may be associated with smoking.
• Even everyday complaints such as coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath on exertion can be attributed to smoking.
Smoking also causes premature wrinkling of the skin, bad breath, bad smelling clothes and hair, and an increased risk of macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness in the elderly.
For women, there are unique risks. Women over 35 who smoke and use birth control pills are in a high-risk group for heart attack, stroke, and blood clots of the legs. Women who smoke are more likely to have a miscarriage or a lower birth-weight baby. Low birth-weight babies are more likely to die or to be impaired.
No matter what your age or how long you've smoked, quitting will help you live longer. People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke. Ex-smokers also enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses

Improved health benefits
Smokers are always being told about the harmful effects of their habit; however, people are far less aware of the dramatic health benefits of quitting and just how quickly they begin. It’s always worth emphasizing that the health benefits from stopping begin almost immediately and continue to increase for many years:
20 minutes - Blood pressure and pulse return to normal
8 hours - The oxygen level in your blood increases to normal level. Chances of a heart attack start to fall
24 hours - Carbon monoxide leaves the body. The lungs start to clear out mucus and debris
48 hours - Nicotine is no longer found in the body. Sense of taste and smell improve
72 hours - Breathing becomes easier. Energy levels increase
2-12 weeks - Circulation improves throughout the body
3-9 months - Coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing improve.
5 years - Risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
10 years - Risk of lung cancer falls to around half that of a smoker.

Stopping smoking provides the best opportunity to improve the family’s health and be around and see your children grow up. After quitting smoking, people often take more interest in their own health and wellbeing and may feel more motivated to take up a form of exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling or aerobics. During exercise, chemicals called ‘endorphins’ are released in the brain, which have a tranquillizing effect and make people feel good.

Stopping smoking can bring other opportunities. Having the ability to quit smoking and take back personal control over the habit will give their self-esteem a boost. Many ex-smokers have found that the effort they invested in stopping smoking has helped them to have more belief in themselves and their capabilities. As a result people who have quit smoking have also gone on to make other positive life changes, such as taking advantage of new opportunities at work.

Smoking is expensive. It isn't hard to figure out how much you spend on smoking: multiply how much money you spend on tobacco every day by 365 (days per year). The amount may surprise you. Now multiply that by the number of years you have been smoking and that amount will probably astound you. Multiply the cost per year by 10 (for the upcoming 10 years) and ask yourself what you would rather do with that much money. And this doesn’t include other possible expenses, such as the health care costs due to tobacco-related conditions.

Social Acceptance
Smoking is less socially acceptable now than it was in the past. Most workplaces have some type of smoking restrictions. Some employers even prefer to hire nonsmokers. Employees who are ill more often than others can raise an employer’s need for expensive temporary replacement workers. Smokers in a building also typically increase the maintenance costs of keeping odors at an acceptable level, since residue from cigarette smoke clings to carpets, drapes, and other fabrics. Friends may ask you not to smoke in their houses or cars. Public buildings, aircrafts, music halls and even cinema halls are largely smoke-free. And more and more communities are restricting smoking in all public places, including restaurants. Like it or not, finding a place to smoke is going to be a hassle.

Health of Others
Smoking not only harms your health but the health of those around you. Exposure to secondhand smoke (passive smoking) includes exhaled smoke as well as smoke from burning cigarettes. Studies have shown that secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths each year from lung cancer and heart disease in healthy nonsmokers.
Smoking by mothers is linked to a higher risk of their babies developing asthma in childhood, especially if the mother smokes while pregnant. It is also associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and low-birth weight infants. Babies and children raised in a household where there is smoking have more ear infections, colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems than children from nonsmoking families. Secondhand smoke can also cause eye irritation, headaches, nausea and dizziness.

Setting an Example
If you have children, you probably want to set a good example for them. When asked, nearly all smokers say they don't want their children to smoke, but children whose parents smoke are more likely to start smoking themselves. You can become a good role model for them by quitting now.


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