Smoking and How to Quit Smoking

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Smoking and quitting smoking facts

  • Although smoking is an addiction, people can quit smoking.
  • Secondhand smoke is harmful to the health of children, unborn children, family members, and coworkers.
  • Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases.
  • The steps in quitting, each of which requires special attention and efforts by the smoker, are getting ready to quit, quitting, and staying quit.
  • A number of techniques are available to assist people who want to quit, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), behavioral modification, self-help literature, and prescription medications.
  • In nicotine replacement therapy, which is the cornerstone of most smoking cessation programs, another source of nicotine is substituted while the cigarettes are stopped. (The idea f nicotine replacement therapy is to eliminate both the smoking habit – although the addiction remains – and the symptoms of withdrawal. Then, the replacement nicotine is gradually stopped.)
  • Currently, three forms of nicotine replacement therapy are available over the counter: nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges, while two forms are available by prescription, an inhaler and a nasal spray.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy has about a 25% success rate, which increases to 35% or 40% when nicotine replacement therapy is combined with intensive behavioral counseling.
  • Nicotine-containing substances have side effects, interactions with other medications, effects on other medical conditions, and limitations in their use.
  • Varenicline is a prescription drug that can help adults quit smoking. It is believed to act on the same receptors (the sites where nicotine acts to produce its effects) in the brain as nicotine, resulting in activation (stimulation) of these receptors and blocking the ability of nicotine to attach to these receptors.
  • A prescription drug called bupropion has also been found to be effective in helping people to stop smoking.
  • E-cigarettes are smokable, refillable or replacebale cartridges or catridges that hold liquid that contains nicotine, solvents, and flavors.
  • The safety of e-cigarettes is not known at this time.

What problems are caused by smoking?

By smoking, you can cause health problems not only for yourself but also for those around you.

Hurting Yourself

Smoking is an addiction. Tobacco contains nicotine, a drug that is addictive. The nicotine, therefor, makes it very difficult to quit. In fact, since the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1964 report on the dangers of smoking, millions of Americans have quit. Still, approximately 484,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year from smoking-related illnesses. This represents almost 1 out of every 5 deaths. The reason for these deaths is that smoking greatly increases the risk of getting lung cancer, heart attack, chronic lung disease, stroke, and many other cancers. Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death. In addition, smoking is perhaps the most preventable cause of breathing (respiratory) diseases within the USA.

Hurting Others

Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, coworkers, and others who breathe the smoker’s cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke or passive smoke. Among infants up to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia each year. In addition, secondhand smoke from a parent’s cigarette increases a child’s chances for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, worsens asthma, and increases an infant’s risk of dying form sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Smoking is also harmful to the unborn fetus. If a pregnant woman smokes, her fetus is at an increased risk of miscarriage, early delivery, stillbirth, infant birth, and low birth weight. In fact, it has been estimated that if all women quit smoking during pregnancy, about 4,000 new babies would not die each year.

Exposure to passive smoke can also cause cancer. Research has shown that non-smokers who reside with a smoker have a 24% increase in risk for developing lung cancer when compared with other non-smokers. An estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year in the U.S. that are attributable to passive smoking, and an estimated 49,000 deaths each year in total from all smoking-related conditions occur as a result of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. If both parents smoke, a teenager is more than twice as likely to smoke as a teenager whose parents are both nonsmokers. Even in households where only one parents smokes, young people are more likely to start smoking.

What is addictive disease and why is smoking considered an addictive disease?

The term addictive disease or addiction describes a persistent habit that is harmful to the person. Thus, addiction is a chronic (long duration) disease with reliance on the substance causing the addiction. The addictive substance also causes the accompanying deterioration of a person’s physical and psychological health.

Psychologically, an individual’s behavior pattern establishes how the addictive substance is used. One type of behavior is compulsive behavior, which is an overwhelming and irresistible interest in use of the substance. For example, the compulsive addict makes sure that the substance is always available. Another type of behavior, which is using the substance regularly or occasionally for the desirable effects. Physically, continuous use of the substance leads to dependence on the drug by the body.  This dependence means that when the drug is discontinued, symptoms of withdrawal or distress occur.

Nicotine is the component of cigarettes that addicts. Almost immediately upon inhalation, the body responds to the nicotine. An individual feels relaxed, calmer, and happier than before the inhalation. These pleasant feelings reflect the physical side of addiction, but then, not smoking cigarettes causes a craving for more cigarettes, irritability, impatience, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms. Indeed, these symptoms are the symptoms of withdrawal from cigarettes. Moreover, with time, more and more nicotine is desired to produce the favorable effects and to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal.

What are the symptoms and signs of cigarette addiction?

The signs of addiction to cigarettes include:

  • Smoking more than seven cigarettes per day
  • Inhaling deeply and frequently
  • Smoking cigarettes containing nicotine levels more than 0.9mg
  • Smoking within 30 minutes of awakening in the morning
  • Finding it difficult to eliminate the first cigarette in the morning
  • Smoking frequently during the morning
  • Finding it difficult to avoid smoking in smoking-restricted areas
  • Needing to smoke even if sick and in bed

Why should someone quit smoking?

Quitting smoking makes a difference right away in the way you feel. You can taste and smell food better. Your breath smells better. Your cough goes away. These benefits happen for men and women of all ages, even those who are older. They happen for health people as well as those who already have a disease or condition caused by smoking.

Even more importantly, in the long run, quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, many other cancers (including laryngeal, oral cavity, stomach, esophageal, cervical, kidney, bladder, and colon cancers), heart disease, stroke, and other lung or breathing disease (for example, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema). Smoking also increase the risk of peripheral vascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms. 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. People who quit smoking can actually reduce their risk of developing lung cancer or other smoking-related diseases.

What are the steps in quitting?

First, one can do certain things to get ready to quit. Then, there are other things to do on the day of quitting. Finally, one can do things to help oneself to remain abstinent.

Getting ready to quit smoking

  • Set a date for quitting. If possible, plan to have a friend quit smoking with you. It’s best to pick a day within the next month. A date too far off in the future will give you a chance to procrastinate and postpone, while a date too soon may not allow you to make a plan for medications or support system.
  • Notice when and why you smoke. Try to find the things in your daily life that you often do while smoking (such as drinking your morning cup of coffee or driving a car).
  • Change your smoking routine. Keep your cigarettes in a different place. Smoke with your other hand. Don’t do anything else when you are smoking. Think about how you feel when you smoke.
  • Smoke only in certain places, such as outdoors.
  • When you want a cigarette, wait a few minutes. Try to think of something to do instead of smoking. For example, you might chew gum or drink a glass of water.
  • Buy one pack of cigarettes at a time. Switch to a brand of cigarettes that you don’t like.

On the day you quit smoking

  • Get rid of all your cigarettes. Put away your ashtrays.
  • Change your morning routine. When you eat breakfast, don’t sit in the same place at the kitchen table. Stay busy.
  • When you get the urge to smoke, do something else instead.
  • Carry other things to put in your mouth, such as gum, hard candy, or a toothpick.
  • Reward yourself at the end of the day for not smoking. See a movie or go out and enjoy your favorite meal.
  • Tell your friends and family members about your decision to quit smoking and ask for their support.

Staying quit

  • The expected consequences of quitting are irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, and of course, urges to smoke. So, if you feel more short-tempered or distracted or sleepier than usual, don’t worry because these feelings will pass.
  • Try to exercise. For example, go for a walk, ride a bike, if you have access to a pool swin, take a yoga or Pilates class.
  • Consider the positive things about quitting. For example, think about how much you like yourself as a non-smoker, the health benefits for you and your family, and the example you set for others around you. A positive attitude will help you through the tough times.
  • When you feel tense, try to keep busy and think about ways to ease the tenseness. Tell yourself that smoking won’t make it any better, and go do something else.
  • Eat regular meals because feeling hungry is sometimes mistaken for the desire to smoke.
  • Start putting the money you save by not buying cigarettes in a “money jar.”
  • Let others know that you have quit smoking. You will find that most people will support you. Many of your smoking friends may want to know how you quit. It’s good to talk to others about your quitting. In fact, people who stay off smoking for at least one yeat often have had very strong support from a companion or co-worker.
  • If you slip-up and smoke, don’t be discouraged or give up and return to your smoking habit. Many former smokers have tried to quit several times before they finally succeed.

 

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