Stop Smoking!

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Cigarettes contain more than 4000 toxic chemicals in them.
Within these chemicals you can find carbon monoxide and tar which, combined with all the others, they are drawn to the lungs and bloodstream with every puff.

All these chemicals are responsible for damaging every person's health and can cause cancer.

Smoking makes the inside walls of your arteries become coated with fatty deposits, restricting and blocking blood flow around your body. This will result in heart attacks and strokes.

Smoking also causes serious breathing problems and damages your sense of taste and smell.

Also in women who are pregnant, when carbon monoxide enters their bloodstream, the amount of oxygen reaching the developing baby will be reduced significantly. For each cigarette they smoke, the blood flow to the baby will be disrupted for 15 seconds.

Smoking also causes bad breath and gum disease, and it robs the skin of oxygen, leaving it looking grey, dull and more wrinkled.

Even though the nicotine contained in cigarettes is highly addictive, the real damage is done by all the following poisonous chemicals:

Tar which is known to cause both cancer and lung damage.

Carbon monoxide which is a gas found in car exhaust fumes.

Benzene which is found in petrol fumes and causes leukaemia.

Ethanol which is used in anti-freeze. Ammonia which is used in cleaning products.

Formaldehyde which is an embalming fluid. Hydrogen cyanide which is an industrial pollutant.

Arsenic which is an effectively rat poison.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) which is found in diesel exhaust.

All these ingredients can be found in the air around you and are inhaled when you breath in second-hand smoke.

There are many different kinds of health dangers associated with smoking than people realise and the facts are as follow:

Smoking causes about…

- 30% of all cancer deaths.
- 17% of all heart disease deaths
- Up to 83% of deaths from lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
- 12000 deaths as a result of passive smoking.
- 17000 children, under 5 years of age, to become hospitalised as a result of passive smoking since their bodies are still developing so they will be particularly affected.
- A 40% decreased chance of conceiving for a woman in each cycle.
- 20 different fatal diseases out of 50 every year.

Smoking when pregnant causes and increased risk of…

- Miscarriage.
- Bleeding during pregnancy.
- Premature birth.
- Low birth-weight babies.
- Cot death.

Passive smoking can increase the risks of…

- Heart disease by 25%
- Lung cancer by 24%
- Chest infections.
- Severe asthma symptoms.
- Chronic coughs.
- Wheezing.
- Glue ear.

* Passive smoking is simply second-hand smoke inhaled from other people’s cigarettes and cigars and it is even more toxic than the smoke going directly into a smoker‘s lungs.

85% of second-hand smoke is made of invisible odourless gases.

11000 people die from the effects of passive smoking every year.

Smoking is known to be the biggest cause of death and illness and more than 120000 people will die every year from diseases caused by it (that is an estimated 13 people per hour or around 300 a day).

It can damage almost every organ in the human body and can cause some unpleasant side effects, including: coughing, headaches, eye and throat irritation, sneezing and runny noses, feeling of sick, breathing problems, asthma attacks and irregular heart beats.

Over time, and after exposure to smoke for a long period of time, whether is by your own smoke or the smoke from other people, chest problems and allergies (e.g. hay fever) will start to worsen and you will develop and increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

Now, we all know that every single packet of cigarettes has an advertisement, carrying warnings about how smoking can kill; So why do people smoke?

The answer to this, is not just about having a lack of will power to quit or even a strong addiction.

It involves a combination of factors that, when added together, makes smoking a very difficult thing to give up.

The factors are as follow:

- Nicotine addiction:
Tests have showed that the physical addiction to nicotine is equally as strong as the addiction to heroin.

- Psychological addiction:
Smoking is said to have become a habit that gives comfort and security to people.

- Peer pressure:
This happens when friends or family members that smoke, introduce you to smoking.

- Image:
Unfortunately, television and films these days only help reinforce, in people, the idea that smoking can make them look “cool” or look “sexy“.
Also many people believe that smoking can be a way to help them lose weight (which is not true or healthy to begin with).

- Relaxation:
Many smokers say that smoking helps them relax and that it relives the stress from their lives, although this is not true at all since the craves for nicotine will create more stress in the long run.


22% of all male deaths and 11% of all female deaths are due to smoking.

Around half of all regular smokers will die eventually as a result of their smoking. However, within 10 to 15 years of giving up smoking, the risk of an ex-smoker from developing lung cancer is only slightly more than of someone who has never smoked, so there are clear benefits obtained by taking action and quitting smoking.

The reasons why somebody decides to stop smoking also varies.

Sometimes something specific may trigger someone to stop smoking, and this could be for some of the following reasons:

- Pregnancy.
- An illness being diagnosed to either themselves, a close family member or friend.
- Worsening of an existing condition, (e.g. asthma or allergies).
- Information on television, magazines or newspapers.
- Going on a long haul non-smoking flight.
- Running out of cigarettes and not having the money to buy more.

All these among many other reasons.

Of course, there are also reasons that can motivate people to give up smoking, especially after realising the benefits obtained by it.
Unfortunately some people will be more motivated than others so just aiming to stop smoking is not enough.

These are some of the benefits experienced when giving up smoking:

Physical:

- It becomes easier to breath (e.g. people will feel more able to do more without getting out of breath).
- The risk of serious diseases starts to decrease.
- Noticeable improved circulation.
- Increased energy levels.
- The increased chance of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
- Any phlegm in the lungs will decrease and so will coughing.

Lifestyle:

- A cleaner, fresher house (e.g. no more smoke smells).
- No more cigarette burns all over the furniture or clothes.
- A reduced risk from passive smoking towards others.
- Healthier children who are less likely to start smoking.

Financial:

- Money that would have been spent on cigarettes can be used for other things.
It is estimated that a 20-a-day smoker will save more than £1800 a year by giving up smoking.

Social:

- Food tastes better.
- Clothes, hair, breath and skin no longer smells of stale smoke.
- More confidence and higher levels of self-esteem and a much stronger feeling of success about giving up.

And I am sure that there are many more reasons that you could think of that could benefit you from giving up smoking but I will leave it at that.

Unfortunately, even after mentioning all these different reasons and benefits, giving up smoking can be a very difficult task that many people fail to accomplish.
Now, why is that? Especially if it can save your life and improve your lifestyle?

Well, here are some of the reasons why some people fail to give up smoking:

- Lack of immediate danger:
The risk of death and disease from smoking is easily ignored by many people as something that only “happens to other people”.
The damage that smoking causes is never immediate and will not be apparent for several years, apart from the occasional cough, staining of the teeth and a bad taste in the mouth each morning.

Just like with the knowledge of knowing that eating too much fatty foods or drinking too much alcoholic beverages can also cause health risks, people continue to put their lives at risk, because they believe that “it will never happen to them”.

- Thinking that it is too late:
Many people believe that if they have already been smoking for many years, that there is no salvation for them, so “what’s the point?”.
But this is NOT TRUE! Quitting smoking is the most important thing for a person to do, in order to improve their health and it is NEVER TOO LATE!.

-Withdrawal symptoms:
Unfortunately, this one is a tough one, since as soon as the nicotine intake is stopped from getting into our systems, many unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will start occurring.

They are as follow: 

--> Restlessness
--> Irritability
--> Anxiety
--> Physical tension
--> Depression
--> Headaches
--> Sleep disturbances
--> Light-headedness
--> Dizziness
--> Nicotine cravings
--> Mood swings
--> Lack of concentration

Anxiety and physical tension symptoms do not normally last longer than three minutes at a time.

Irritability and depression is often felt due to the lack of nicotine in the body.
Nicotine can have an antidepressant effect, which is normally why people that try to quit smoking will have offsets of these symptoms.

Headaches are normally due to the brain adapting to less carbon monoxide and more oxygen instead.
Only one in 10 people will suffer from headaches when trying to stop smoking, and they will be resolved in less than two weeks after stopping.

Less than 50% of people that stop smoking experience mood swings, but if by any chance they happened to developed, they normally disappear in less than a month.

Unfortunately when dealing with nicotine cravings, they can last up to several weeks before stopping.

The increased oxygen flow and decreased carbon monoxide can sometimes make it hard for individuals to concentrate.
This affects up to 60% of people trying to quit smoking but returns to normal after only two weeks.

- Fear of weight gain:
As we all know, nobody wants to gain weight, specially those that are on diets.
Knowing that somehow stopping smoking could make them gain weight, may be very discouraging when it comes to quitting.
Unfortunately, there is a small chance of gaining weight after giving up smoking, but only because nicotine is known to suppress a person’s appetite but that is not a healthy way to lose weight in the first place and can lead to many other health problems.


All smokers that try to quit, undergo a series of changes known as the “Cycle of Change”.

Every person needs to understand in what stage of that change they are in, in order to obtain the appropriate treatment.
Once that particular stage has been recognised, they will know how to handle it and they will understand which one comes next so that they can plan on how to move onto the following one until success for quitting is achieved.

Most smokers will go around this cycle of change several times before finally quitting smoking for good.

It goes as follows:

Pre-contemplation --> Contemplation --> Preparation --> Action --> Maintenance --> Permanent Exit!

This are the normal things that people might think about when going through the different stages of this cycle:

Pre-contemplation: “I am happy smoking”
Contemplation: “Perhaps I should stop smoking”
Preparation: “I will stop smoking”
Action: “I have stopped smoking”
Maintenance: “I have not smoked for ?? months”

Warning: Anybody that is under the age of 18, suffers from other health conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or stomach ulcers), anyone taking any kind of medication or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, should seek medical advice if they decide that they want to quit smoking.

After you stop smoking, your body will start to recover and feel better.

Usually this is how the process of recovery happens:

After…

20 MINUTES, your blood pressure and pulse rate will start to go down.

8 HOURS, the oxygen levels in the blood will return to normal.

24 HOURS, all the poisonous carbon monoxide gas will be eliminated from your body.

48 HOURS, your body will be free of nicotine and food will begin to taste better.

72 HOURS, your breathing will become easier and your energy levels will increase.

2-12 WEEKS, your circulation will improve throughout your body.

3-9 MONTHS, any coughs and breathing problems will improve.

10 YEARS, your risk of lung cancer will fall to half of that of a smoker.

15 YEARS, your risk of heart attack will be the same as of that of a non-smoker.


NICOTINE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (NRT)

Every individual that decides to stop smoking will need more than just determination and willpower on its own, in order to accomplish overcoming the withdrawal symptoms caused by the nicotine.

NRT treatments, give all smokers a much greater chance of being successful when attempting to give up smoking.

NRT treatments, prevent your body from being exposed to the dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes.

What the NRT does is, provide the body with enough nicotine to control withdrawal symptoms, which in turn leaves the individual smoker free to concentrate on only breaking the behavioural dependence of smoking.

Once each individual person manages to change all of the smoking behaviours they have, they can start “stepping down” on their nicotine addiction by cutting down on the strength doses of the substance provided in NRT treatments or by simply using them less often, until eventually they are able to cut the nicotine out altogether.

All NRT treatments work differently and there are many types available to help you stop smoking.

Since all smokers have different habits or behaviours when smoking, they will need to check out all of the different products that are available, in order to chose one particular treatment that would best suit their needs and would help them manage the changes needed to accomplish their main goal: STOP SMOKING!

These are the types of different NRT treatments available:

Nicotine patches:
Nicotine patches provide the body with a constant supply of nicotine.
This helps reduce the withdrawal effects caused by high peaks and rapid intakes of nicotine, that a person suffers from when smoking.
They are convenient and easy to use and can be a very discrete way of giving up smoking.
These are normally recommended for smokers that have a regular smoking pattern and would not miss the physical action of lighting and smoking cigarettes.
They come in different strengths and each smoker will have to decide which one they will need depending on the amount of cigarettes they smoke in a day.

There are two different types:

- 24-hour patches, which are worn throughout the day and night and give a sustained release of nicotine during that period of time.
The only down side to this particular patch, is that it can cause sleeping disturbances but they are normally great for those people who crave a cigarette first thing in the morning, when they wake up.
- 16-hour patches, which are worn only during the day so they are applied first thing in the morning and removed before going to bed.
These also provide a sustained release of nicotine and unlike the 24-hour patches, they will not cause any sleeping disturbances.

Nicotine chewing gum:
Nicotine chewing gums, come in either low (2mg ) or high (4mg) strengths.
You can find them in a different variety of flavours and each individual smoker will have to decide which one will suite them best depending on how many cigarettes they smoke in a day.
They also allow each individual person, specially those who have a more irregular pattern of smoking, to control their intake of nicotine rather than receiving a continual dose from a patch.
Nicotine chewing gums must be used correctly in order for them to work properly.

This is how they must be used:

1) One piece of gum must be chewed slowly until the taste is strong in the mouth.
2) The gum should be then rested between the cheek and gum inside the mouth until the taste starts to disappear. This allows the lining of the mouth to absorb the nicotine contained in each piece of gum.
3) Once the taste is gone, the gum should be slowly chewed again until the taste returns.
4) The process must be repeated until the taste of the gum is totally gone. Each gum usually lasts for about 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, nicotine chewing gums have a few disadvantages since some people do not like chewing gums.

Also some people have to use dentures so they find it difficult to deal with this type of NRT.

Nicotine chewing gums tend to cause indigestion and headaches if they are chewed too quickly and the release of the nicotine is quite slow compared to the quick fix of a cigarette.

Nicotine inhalators:
Nicotine inhalators consists of a plastic mouth-piece containing a plug impregnated with nicotine.
These are best suited for people who would miss the “hand-to-mouth” action of smoking a cigarette.
The nicotine contained in these inhalators is inhaled by either shallow puffing or deep inhaling, and it is absorbed by the mouth and not the lungs.
They have a mild menthol flavour and allow each individual smoker to control their intake of nicotine in the same way they would with the chewing gums, only it acts quicker than gum or patches do.
Unfortunately inhalators also have some disadvantages since not everyone will enjoy sucking from a plastic tube and its use will be obvious to other members of the public.

Nicotine sublingual tablets or Microtabs:
Nicotine sublingual tablets are used orally by placing one small tablet under the tongue and allowing it to slowly dissolve, in this way the nicotine gets absorbed via the mouth.
This particular treatment suits individuals that have an irregular pattern of smoking and those who want to use something that is more discrete and less noticeable when in public.

Nicotine lozenges:
Nicotine lozenges are placed on the tongue inside the mouth and sucked until the taste becomes strong.
Once the taste becomes strong, they are placed between the gum and cheek until the taste fades, at which time the lozenge will be sucked again.
This process is repeated until the lozenge totally dissolves, which makes them very similar in use to nicotine chewing gums.
This particular treatment is also for smokers with an irregular smoking pattern and is discreet to use.

Nicotine nasal spray:
Nicotine nasal sprays are the fastest acting NRT treatments.
The nicotine solution it provides, is sprayed into the nasal passages, where it is absorbed.

This is the perfect treatment for heavy smokers or those who are highly dependent on nicotine and experience strong craving that require rapid relief.

Unfortunately, they can be unpleasant and unsightly to use, so they are not the best ones to use if you are trying to be discrete when trying to stop smoking. 

Here are some advice points that hopefully will be of some help to you if you decide to give up smoking for good:

- When deciding what type of treatment will suit you best, remember that your smoking habits are much more relevant than anything else when choosing the treatment.

- Whenever you decide you want to quit smoking, take your time to try and understand when and why you started smoking in the first place.

- Once you decide that you want to quit smoking, set yourself a “Quit Day”. Display it somewhere where you can see it every day and when the time comes, stop completely.

- Motivate yourself by writing down all the ways in which you will feel better once you quit smoking and if you need to, read them out every time you need a boost of willpower and encouragement.

- Make sure to throw away all cigarette, matches, lighters and ashtrays before committing to giving up smoking; also identify all of your weak spots and things that could hinder your success to give up smoking so that you will know exactly what and how to avoid them.

- Get support. This is very important and sometimes it is much easier to quit if you do it together with a friend or colleague.

- Have a pot for saving up all the money that you would have normally spent on cigarettes.

- Get active. Taking some sort of sport or even gentle exercise will help you to relax and control weight gain; it will even improve your health.

Exercise helps release endorphins to help you feel good.
Exercise can help you stop smoking because it is a natural antidote to lethargy and depression, and promotes a sense of well-being.

- Improve your diet. Focus on boosting your vitamins and minerals by having lots of fresh and dried fruit and pure-juices, raw vegetables, grilled fish and poultry; steamed green vegetables, fresh salads and plenty of water to flush away toxins.
This will all help you soothe your cravings and stay healthy.

- Almost everybody that tries to quit smoking for the first time, do not get it right on their first try. So DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED!

- If you do not wish to use NRT treatments, you can try a nicotine free approach by using hypnosis or acupuncture to try stop smoking instead.

I hope all this information comes of some use to you and that if you are trying to stop smoking that you can successfully achieve your goal.

Good luck!

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