Quitting smoking

Smoking kills millions of individuals every year. In fact, it is the number one cause of preventable morbidity and death worldwide. It harms almost every organ in the body.

Reasons for Quitting

To be successful in quitting smoking, you must identify the reason why you are quitting. There are hundreds of good reasons why one should quit smoking:

Smoking is hazardous to your health.

  • It is the leading preventable cause of many cancers (lung, larynx, mouth, tongue, esophagus, pancreas, cervix, bladder, etc.)
  • It is the primary cause of lung diseases like COPD and bronchitis
  • It can aggravate many lung conditions like bronchial asthma and infections such as pneumonia
  • It puts you at risk for stroke, heart attack, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • It increases your risk of kidney failure, osteoporosis, and others

Smoking is expensive.

  • Cigarettes do not come free. Calculate the amount of money that you spend on smoking. That’s the amount of money you burn when you smoke.
  • Add to that the cost of treatment for the adverse health effects of smoking. That’s how much you will save if you quit smoking.

Smoking affects your appearance.

  • Smoking hastens the process of aging and damages the skin. It can cause wrinkles and skin spots.
  • Smoking can stain your teeth and your fingers.
  • It can give you bad breath.
  • It delays wound healing.

Smoking kills your family and loved ones.

  • The smoke from the cigarette affects not only the smoker but also those around him. This is called secondhand smoke. As much as smoking can kill the smoker, it can also kill the bystander.
  • If you are pregnant, or living with someone who is pregnant, smoking can damage that unborn child.

Ways to Quit

Many programs have been designed by various institutions to help individuals quit smoking. You will find these programs in the internet, in self-help books, in support groups, and in many other forms.

Studies show that people have the greatest success at quitting if they take medicines to help them quit while working with a counselor. It might also be helpful to combine nicotine replacement with one of the prescription medicines that help people quit. Medications reduce both the cravings and symptoms related to withdrawal.  Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Getting frustrated, angry, or depressed
  • Having trouble thinking clearly

Here is a sample method that can help an individual quit smoking. START:

S = Set a definite date when you plan to quit. Begin as soon as possible

T = Tell your family and friends about your plan to quit so they can help and support you along the way.

A = Anticipate that you will have a hard time and will encounter obstacles at some point.

R = Remove temptations like cigarettes or other tobacco products from your sight. Make sure that your home, car, and work are free of unlit cigarettes. In addition, stay away from your smoking buddies.

T = Talk to a medical professional. A doctor can help you through the process of quitting. He can prescribe you with nicotine replacement medications or gums that can decrease your craving for smoking.

How do medicines help? — Different medicines work in different ways:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy reduces your body’s craving for nicotine, the main drug found in cigarettes. Non-prescription forms of nicotine replacement include skin patches, lozenges, and gum. Prescription forms include nasal sprays and “puffers” or inhalers.
  • Bupropion is a antidepressant/antianxiety prescription medicine that reduces your desire to smoke. This medicine is sold under the brand names Zyban and Wellbutrin.
  • Varenicline is a prescription medicine that reduces withdrawal symptoms and cigarette cravings.

Preventing Relapse

Abstaining from smoking for a few days or weeks is easy, but quitting smoking completely is a bigger challenge. Here are some of the steps that can help a smoker prevent relapse.

  • Live healthy by exercising regularly and eating healthy. Aiming for a fit and healthy life can help you be firm on your decision to live smoke-free.
  • Find a good use of your time. When you are bored, find something productive to do. This will help distract your attention from smoking.
  • Choose your friends wisely. A good friend will not tempt you smoke.
  • Keep a gum or a candy handy. This can keep your mouth occupied especially in times when the craving is strong.
  • Have a strong will and don’t yield to temptation. But if in case you did, don’t lose hope. Try again. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Many people did not succeed on quitting on their first attempt.