New Year’s Resolution: Quit smoking

Cigarette smoking is not only addictive and expensive, but it can also damage your health. Stop the habit using this guide and live a healthier life.

With the widespread use of cigarettes, a link had been discovered between smoking and lung cancer by German doctors, prompting to the rise of the anti-tobacco movement in Germany. This was followed by government anti-smoking propaganda in other states and countries such as Australia, to create public awareness on the ill effects of cigarette smoking and tobacco in particular and includes smoking restrictions in public areas as well as imposing a minimum age requirement for buyers and users of cigarettes. Aside from these campaigns, sanctions were created in the form of higher taxes levied on all tobacco products. Cigarette advertising and sponsorship were likewise banned.

In response to these, tobacco companies have tried to produce cigarettes that are said to be "milder" and have lesser nicotine content. But despite the efforts, medical professionals have found these to be more unsafe than the regular ones.

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A step by step guide on how to quit smoking cigarettes

Quitting smoking is never easy. It is more challenging than what you expect, maybe even harder than quitting alcohol or drugs. There are many ways to quit smoking but as no two people are alike, one method or strategy may not work for the other. You might end up in a dilemma of trying to quit for countless number of times. To help you with that, here is a step by step guide on how to quit smoking cigarettes.

  • Willingness and readiness. Ask yourself how willing and ready you are to quit smoking. Prepare a list of reasons why you need to quit and remind yourself everyday with that. Having a number of reasons strengthens your determination to quit.
  • Smoking plan. Set a specific date to stop smoking. Stick to the plan and make sure you quit the soonest time possible to prevent more complications and unnecessary expenses. If you have tried to quit smoking in the past, learn from it and recall why you failed so you would not repeat the same mistakes.
  • Have a quitting buddy. It is best to share your endeavour with a friend who wants to do the same, then share your plan with your family and friends to get the encouragement and support you need in order to endure the battle.
  • Make your home smoke-free. Throw all your remaining cigarettes, ashtrays and everything that make you remember your usual habit. As much as possible, make sure that the scent on your clothes, curtains and car have been removed.
  • Get enough exercise and eat healthily. Quitters are faced with stress and anxiety and the best way to cut these short is through exercise and having a healthy lifestyle. This will also help you manage your weight as you are expected to put on weight once you quit.
  • Remember the four Ds when you crave: Delay your desire to smoke as cravings last only a few minutes. Deep breath: relax and don’t think about getting a stick. Drink water to cleanse your body and do something else. When you feel bored, keep yourself entertained by working on a hobby.
  • Avoid smoking situations. When attending gatherings, stay in non-smoking areas and politely refuse cigarette offers by saying you don’t smoke.
  • Deal with withdrawal symptoms. As you quit smoking, you would experience temporary physical and emotional changes as your body adjusts to being nicotine-free. You experience depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, dizziness, headache, dryness of the throat and mouth, cough, trouble sleeping and being irritable, tired and hungry. These are more intensely felt during the first few weeks especially with heavy or long time smokers.
  • Don’t lose hope. If you lit back a cigarette, don’t be sad. Just go with your quitting plan and be extra careful to religiously follow these steps. It’s never too late for anyone to quit smoking. Mind your health and increase your lifespan.
  • Seek help from Quitline. Quitline offers free telephone assistance to smokers composed of trained health professionals. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The benefits of kicking your smoking habits for good

Here are some interesting facts on what giving up on your smoking habits would bring you.

Thirty minutes. Your blood pressure and heart rate begin to normalise and breathing improves.
Twelve hours. The level of oxygen in your bloodstream increases and carbon monoxide decreases.
One day. Nicotine and carbon monoxide exit your system.
One week. Your breathing improves and you feel energised as almost all nicotine have left your system.
One month. Everything is back to normal. Your sense of taste and smell, breathing is a lot better and lungs are cleaned.
Two to three months. Your immune system works, giving you extra protection. Coughing and phlegm become occasional.
Six months. You get minimal stress and feel more energised.
One year. Your chances of living longer is increase as you decrease your chances of dying from heart attack.
Five years. There is a significant drop in your chances of having smoking related cancers and heart attack.
Ten years. You have cut your chances of having lung cancer into half.
Fifteen years. Your chances of having a heart attack is similar to that of a non-smoker.

Why do people like to smoke cigarettes?

There are countless reasons why people like to smoke cigarettes. Among youngsters, more often than not, peer pressure is the main cause. Joining their friends smoke brings them a sense of belongingness and acceptance in the group. As parents warn their kids against smoking cigarettes, many have resorted to hiding and sneaking into their garage, just to have a feel of how it is to smoke. Teens love adventure and they find thrill in experimenting on things. For those with parents or elders who are smokers, teens try to emulate them and feel mature.

Other people smoke to feel relaxed, calm and energised when difficult situations arise - whether they are faced with personal or economic problems. Those addicted to illicit drugs are used to smoking too. On cold days, smoking makes them feel warm. For men, it is viewed to connote masculinity and strength. It also is a way of connecting with others through sharing a cigarette and starting a small conversation. Not only does smoking make them feel good and bring a pleasurable feeling, but it also helps in controlling weight since smokers lose their appetites, sense of taste and smell.

What are the dangers of cigarettes to your health?

Smoking is dangerous to your health. This has been a popular warning line but do you know the extent of its harm? For firsthand smokers, nicotine causes addiction. You can suffer from mouth burns, yellowish to brownish stains on teeth and fingers caused by tar and premature ageing.

Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals with carcinogenic compounds and these are absorbed through the lungs, causing cancer in the lungs and other body parts, including liver, kidneys, pancreas, lips, mouth, nose, throat, oesophagus, bladder, ovary, cervix, bone marrow, stomach, penis, vulva and anus. Carbon monoxide is also quickly absorbed to the bloodstream and is transported to the brain and heart. In large amounts, carbon monoxide is fatal and could hamper your lungs, heart and other organs from taking in oxygen. This can then result to stroke, heart attack and even death.

Smoking can cause type 2 diabetes. Those with type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, can have more complications. Among pregnant women, cigarette smoking poses danger both on the life of the mother and the baby, making it the main cause of miscarriages, stillbirth and other birth defects.

Lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, are also among the health risks associated with smoking. Secondhand smokers, which could include your family members, are at a higher health risk. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of breast and lung cancer. Among children and babies, it has been the major cause of asthma and asthma-related problems as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). As a leading cause of preventable illnesses and deaths worldwide, cigarette smoking reduces your life expectancy and quality of life. Not only does it abruptly cuts your life - it also gives you much suffering.

Do you know what an electronic cigarette is and will it help you quit smoking?

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or electronic vaping devices, imitate smoking. When sucked, the e-cigarette is activated and the cartridge that may contain nicotine and other flavourings is heated, producing a vapour that is inhaled. The device does not contain any tobacco and does not emit smoke. Only a visible vapour is exhaled. With its growing popularity, you’ve probably wondered if it can really help you quit smoking.

Since electronic cigarettes only emit vapours, they do not produce tar, carbon monoxide and other carcinogenic chemicals released in the course of regular smoking. Thereby, they do not cause cancer and other diseases. Smokers get the same feeling as with regular cigarette smoking but these e-cigarettes prove to be the healthier option. As an alternative to cigarette smoking, electronic cigarettes take you a step forward towards having a healthy lifestyle.

How can smoking affect my financial health?

Cigarettes and other tobacco products are expensive. Smoking does not only affect your health but costs you a huge amount of money. It strips away the good things you’re supposed to have enjoyed had you saved the money you allocated for cigarettes. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day which costs $17, you are spending $6,205 per year. And be reminded that the cost of cigarettes increases constantly in response to the government’s imposition of higher taxes.

The amount you spent for smoking could have been used to pay off rent or utility bills, buying household needs like furniture, or adding to your daily food consumption. If saved, that amount could have been spent for a holiday with the whole family and bring smiles to your children’s faces. Smoking does not only bring financial misery to your family but puts everyone’s health at risk. With the impact of smoking on your health, becoming sick would hurt your finances again once you start paying for health services and your expenses start to file up.

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