How to Quit Smoking
Smoking kills. Enough data is available linking cigarette smoking and serious ailments such as cancer, emphysema, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, and even breathing difficulties, teeth discoloration, early greying of hair, impotency, and many more. In addition, other factors such as cost of smoking, the inability to work without smoking, and the time spent on smoking also take their toll on your well-being.
Smoking also poses serious hazards to people around, such as the risk of starting a fire, passive smoking, etc. That is why governments around the world have banned smoking in public places.
Why is smoking so hard to quit?
There are two aspects related to smoking: the addictiveness of smoking and the withdrawal symptoms that arise when a smoker tries to quit.
Nicotine is addictive
Nicotine, the drug found in tobacco, is found to be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Smokers develop a psychological and physiological dependence on this habit-forming drug.
- Nicotine gives the smoker pleasurable feelings inducing him to smoke even more.
- The regular smoker smokes mainly to maintain the level of nicotine in his body.
- Over time, the body develops a tolerance to nicotine, which leads to an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked.
Smoking cessation causes withdrawal symptoms
Reducing the cigarette intake or quitting abruptly causes a break in the steady supply of nicotine to the body, which craves to maintain existing levels. This usually happens in regular and heavy smokers.
When a person stops abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur, including:
The symptoms may appear three-four hours after the last cigarette, and may worsen about two to three days later. The result? Many people who are trying to quit revert to smoking in an attempt to reduce these symptoms.
- Mood swings, irritability, frustration, and anger
- Sleep disorders such as difficulty in falling asleep, nightmares, etc.
- Appetite problems
How to Quit?
Quitting smoking can be a three-step process.
1. Recognise that you should quit
"Begin with the end in mind" - Stephen Covey
The fact that you are reading this article may indicate that you recognise the harmful effects of smoking, and if you are a smoker, you may want to quit it. This self-realisation is the first step in the war against smoking.
- Write down your goals in your personal diary.
- Keep checking regularly to see whether you are following your goals.
- If required, take the help of a supportive spouse, parent, friend, or child to remind you, in a gentle way, about your goals.
2. Be convinced why you want to quit
Mere recognition is, of course, not enough. What is more important is to know why you want to quit. Be convinced about the reasons you want to quit.
- Remind yourself of the reasons why smoking is bad for you.
- Visualise how quitting smoking will make you feel better and improve your health.
- Visit sites that are dedicated to anti-smoking such as www.cancer.org that have years of experience with helping people quit smoking.
- Help cancer patients in hospitals. You will be convinced about the dangers of smoking. Moreover, your attempts to help cancer patients battle this dreadful disease will be appreciated.
It is now time to take the plunge, and finally do what you should have done long back—quit! There are only two ways to quit: abruptly quitting or gradually reducing cigarette consumption.
Cold Turkey refers to quitting cigarettes abruptly and completely. Most experts agree that this is the best method to quit smoking, as people who quit abruptly tend to have greater health benefits compared to regular smokers or smokers trying to cut down gradually.
The risk of developing cancer and other diseases in individuals on cold turkey sharply reduces over time. However, the harsh withdrawal symptoms make this option seem difficult, especially for heavy smokers. Choose a time, and mark it on your calendar. Of course, the best time is NOW.
Simply cutting down on cigarettes does not lead to any increase in health benefits. However, for many smokers, a gradual reduction seems an easier way out compared to the seemingly frightening withdrawal symptoms of cold turkey. If you are smoking eight cigarettes a day, reduce it to seven the next day. Slowly, over a period ranging from one week to six months, reduce your cigarette consumption to zero. One of the most effective ways to cut down is to postpone the first cigarette. Whenever you feel like smoking, postpone it by ten minutes.
Is that all?
The war against smoking cannot be won by simply throwing the butt. It continues even after you throw away your last cigarette. Learn what to do after you quit.
Do you smoke or know anybody who smokes? What according to you is the best way to stop smoking? To share your experiences and tips, click here.
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