Guide to Quitting Smoking
By: Mr. Kushal Rimal
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, and where to go for help. Quitting smoking is not even that difficult, if you seriously want to do it.
Before taking any action and reading ahead you need to ask yourself, "Am I going to quit smoking seriously? Is smoking good for me, my family and children? Am I just reading this article to have fun or I am going to do this?" Now, if you seriously want to quit and your reply of the heart is true then you will make it for sure. Now let’s continue.
Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking? Quitting smoking is not that difficult for lots of people, but staying quit is the main problem. You know that smoke is just the smoke it’s tasteless and it's smell is good but why can’t people quit it easily? The answer is nicotine. Nicotine is the natural drug in tobacco; it is highly addictive and challenging to rid from our body. It is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, the body becomes both physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine and one could say that nicotine will make it’s users a slave. Studies have shown that smokers must overcome both of these addictions to be successful at quitting and staying quit.
When tobacco smoke is inhaled by a person, it's nicotine is carried into the lungs deeply where it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body. Then nicotine starts its role and begins affecting many parts of our body, including heart, blood vessels, hormonal systems, metabolism and the brain. A regular smoker will have nicotine or its by-products present in the body for about 3 to 4 days after quitting. Nicotine creates pleasant feelings that make the smokers want to smoke more and more, it also acts as a kind of depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells. As the nervous system adapts to nicotine, smokers tend to increase the number of cigarettes they smoke, and therefore the amount of nicotine in their blood. After a while, the smoker develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads to an increase in smoking over time. Also over time, the smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then smokes to maintain this level of nicotine in their system. In fact, nicotine, when inhaled in cigarette smoke, reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously.
When people try to stop using nicotine, the absence of nicotine triggers frustration and withdrawal symptoms. It affects both the physical and mental states of the person. Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following:
• dizziness (which may only last 1-2 days in the beginning)
These symptoms can lead the smoker to again start smoking cigarettes to boost blood levels of nicotine back to a level where there are no symptoms.
Health concerns usually top the list of reasons people give for quitting smoking. About half of all smokers who continue to smoke will end up dying from a smoking-related illness. Nearly everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few people realize it is also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer as well, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias. For the first time, the Surgeon General includes pneumonia in the list of diseases caused by smoking. Smoking increases the risk of lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These progressive lung diseases – grouped under the term COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) – are usually diagnosed in current or former smokers in their 60s and 70s. COPD causes chronic illness and disability and is eventually fatal. Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as are nonsmokers. And smoking is a major risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles, as well as cerebrovascular disease that can cause strokes. Smoking also causes premature wrinkling of the skin, bad breath, bad smelling clothes and hair, and yellow fingernails and hair, yellow fingernails 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. Based on data collected in the late 1990s, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking. 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 from cold and flu viruses, better self-reported health, and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia. Ex-smokers also enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, better self-reported health status, and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia. For decades the Surgeon General has reported the health risks associated with smoking. Regardless of your age or smoking history, there are advantages to quitting smoking. Benefits apply whether you are healthy or you already have smoking-related diseases. In 1990, the Surgeon General concluded:
• Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. Benefits apply to people with and without smoking-related disease.
When Smokers Quit – What Are the Benefits Over Time?
20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops. 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases. 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's. 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting. 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease. 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker's.
Visible and Immediate Rewards of Quitting Quitting helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on your appearance including:
• Premature wrinkling of the skin
The prospect of better health is a major reason for quitting, but there are others as well.
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 using tobacco 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 higher costs for health and life insurance, as well as the health care costs due to tobacco-related conditions.
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. Studies show smoking employees cost businesses more to employ because they are "out sick" more frequently. Employees who are ill more often than others can raise an employer’s need for expensive temporary replacement workers. They can increase insurance costs both for other employees and for the employer, who typically pays part of the workers’ insurance premiums. 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. Landlords may choose not to rent to smokers since maintenance costs and insurance rates may rise when smokers occupy buildings. Friends may ask you not to smoke in their houses or cars. Public buildings, concerts, and even sporting events are largely smoke-free. And more and more communities are restricting smoking in all public places, including restaurants and bars. Like it or not, finding a place to smoke can be a hassle. Smokers may find their opportunities for dating or romantic involvement, including marriage, are largely limited to other smokers, who make up only about 1/4th of the population.
Health of Others
Smoking not only harms your health but the health of those around you. Exposure to secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke [ETS] or 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.
How to Quit
Smokers often say, "Don't tell me why to quit, tell me how." There is no one right way to quit, but there are some key elements in quitting smoking successfully. These 4 factors are crucial:
• Making the decision to quit
Making the Decision to Quit
The decision to quit tobacco use is one that only you can make. Others may want you to quit, but the real commitment must come from you. Researchers have looked into how and why people stop tobacco use. They have some ideas, or models, of how this happens. The Health Belief Model says that you will be more likely to stop tobacco use if you:
• believe that you could get a tobacco-related disease and this worries you
Do any of these apply to you? The Stages of Change Model identifies the stages that you go through when you make a change in behavior. Here are the stages as they apply to quitting tobacco use: Pre-contemplation: At this stage, the tobacco user is not thinking seriously about quitting right now. Contemplation: The tobacco user is actively thinking about quitting but is not quite ready to make a serious attempt yet. This person may say, "Yes, I'm ready to quit, but the stress at work is too much, or I don't want to gain weight, or I'm not sure if I can do it." Preparation: Tobacco users in the preparation stage seriously intend to quit in the next month and often have tried to quit in the past 12 months. They usually have a plan. Action: This is the first 6 months when the user is actively quitting. Maintenance: This is the period of 6 months to 5 years after quitting when the ex-user is aware of the danger of relapse and take steps to avoid it. Where do you fit in this model? If you are thinking about quitting, setting a date and deciding on a plan will move you into the preparation stage, the best place to start.
Setting a Quit Date and Deciding on a Plan
Once you've made a decision to quit, you're ready to pick a quit date. This is a very important step. Pick a specific day within the next month as your "Quit Day." Picking a date too far in the future allows you time to rationalize and change your mind. But do give yourself enough time to prepare and come up with a plan. You might choose a date that has a special meaning like a birthday or anniversary, or the date of the Great American Smoke out (third Thursday in November each year). Or you may want to simply pick a random date. Circle the date on your calendar. Make a strong, personal commitment to quit on that day. There is no one right way to quit. Most tobacco users prefer to quit "cold turkey" – that is, abruptly and totally. They use tobacco until their Quit Day and then stop all at once, or they may cut down on tobacco for a week or 2 before their Quit Day.
Another way involves cutting down on the number of times tobacco is used each day. With this method, you gradually reduce the amount of nicotine in your body. While it sounds logical to cut down in order to quit gradually, in practice this method is difficult. Quitting tobacco is a lot like losing weight; it takes a strong commitment over a long period of time. Users may wish there was a magic bullet – a pill or method that would make quitting painless and easy. But that is not the case. Nicotine substitutes can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, but they are most effective when used as part of a stop tobacco use plan that addresses both the physical and psychological components of quitting. Here are some steps to help you prepare for your Quit Day:
• Pick the date and mark it on your calendar
Successful quitting is a matter of planning and commitment, not luck. Decide now on your own plan. Some possibilities include using the nicotine patch or gum, joining a tobacco cessation class, going to Nicotine Anonymous meetings, or using self-help materials such as books and pamphlets. For the best chance at success, your plan should include one or more of these options. On your Quit Day, follow these suggestions:
• Do not smoke. This means at all - not even one puff!
Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place or eat different foods. Dealing with Withdrawal Withdrawal from nicotine has 2 parts – the physical and the psychological. The physical symptoms, while annoying, are not life threatening. Nicotine replacement can help reduce many of these physical symptoms. But most users find that the bigger challenge is the mental part of quitting. If you have been smoking for any length of time, smoking has become linked with nearly everything you do – waking up in the morning, eating, reading, watching TV, and drinking coffee, for example. It will take time to "un-link" smoking from these activities. That is why, even if you are using a nicotine replacement, you may still have strong urges to smoke. One way to overcome these urges or cravings is to recognize rationalizations as they come up. A rationalization is a mistaken belief that seems to make sense at the time but is not based on facts. If you have tried to quit before, you will probably recognize many of these common rationalizations.
• I’ll just use it to get through this rough spot.
You probably can add more to the list. As you go through the first few days without tobacco, write down any rationalizations as they come up and recognize them for what they are: messages that can trap you into going back to using tobacco. Use the ideas below to help you keep your commitment to quitting. Avoid people and places where you are tempted to smoke. Later on you will be able to handle these with more confidence. Alter your habits. Switch to juices or water instead of alcohol or coffee. Take a different route to work. Take a brisk walk instead of a coffee break.
Use oral substitutes such as sugarless gum or hard candy, raw vegetables such as carrot sticks, or sunflower seeds. Activities. Do something to reduce your stress. Exercise or do hobbies that keep your hands busy, such as needlework or woodworking, which can help distract you from the urge to smoke. Take a hot bath, exercise, read a book. Deep breathing. When you were smoking, you breathed deeply as you inhaled the smoke. When the urge strikes now, breathe deeply and picture your lungs filling with fresh, clean air. Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting and the benefits you'll gain as an ex-smoker. Delay. If you feel that you are about to light up, delay. Tell yourself you must wait at least 10 minutes. Often this simple trick will allow you to move beyond the strong urge to smoke. What you're doing is not easy, so you deserve a reward. Put the money you would have spent on tobacco in a jar every day and then buy yourself a weekly treat. Buy a magazine, go out to eat, call a friend long-distance. Or save the money for a major purchase. You can also reward yourself in ways that don't cost money: vist a park or the library, develop a new hobby, or take a yoga class.
Staying Quit (Maintenance)
Remember the quotation by Mark Twain? Maybe you, too, have quit many times before. So you know that staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. You can use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Think ahead to those times when you may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how you will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations. More dangerous, perhaps, are the unexpected strong desires to smoke that occur sometimes months (or even years) after you've quit. To get through these without relapse, try the following:
• Review your reasons for quitting and think of all the benefits to your health, your finances and your family.
What if you do smoke? The difference between a slip and a relapse is within your control. You can use the slip as an excuse to go back to smoking, or you can look at what went wrong and renew your commitment to staying off smoking for good. Even if you do relapse, try not to get too discouraged. Very few people are able to quit for good on the first attempt. In fact, it takes most people several attempts before quitting for good. What’s important is figuring out what helped you in your attempt to quit and what worked against you. You can then use this information to make a stronger attempt at quitting the next time.
Where Can I Go for Help?
It is hard to stop smoking. But if you are a tobacco user, you can quit! More than 46 million Americans have quit smoking for good. Many organizations offer information, counseling, and other services on how to quit as well as information on where to go for help. Other good resources where help can be found include your doctor, dentist, local hospital, employer or the site like this.
About The Author
Author Kushal Rimal, Timilsina Industries (http://www.tci.com.np)
Timilsina Industries actually is the manufacturer and exporter of Tibetan rugs, but we always participate in the social service and helping people out in different factor. We participate in lots of social work for example: helping orphans, helping NGO’s to end child labors, we sometime provide project work to our staff to write the important articles which are helpful to people, and we donate some amount from our business profit to needy people and organizations.
Timilsina Industries heartily thanks www.thestopsmokingguide.com for helping people.
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