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It is a well known fact that smoking is dangerous to health. Tobacco contains many hazardous substances, such as acetone, tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. When these are inhaled, they affect not only the lungs but the entire body system. Smoking harms almost every organ in the body, causing many illnesses and affecting the overall health of smokers.
Noxious effects of smoking
- Smoking affects the respiratory system, causing emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer.
- It has effects on the heart and blood vessels, such as increased blood pressure, weakening of blood vessels, blood clots, increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- It affects the digestive system with an increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus.
- Smoking increases the risk of other diseases such as diabetes, pneumonia, tuberculosis, osteoporosis, cataracts.
- Smoking affects the reproductive system. It decreases sexual performance in men and makes pregnancy difficult for women. It also increases the chance of miscarriage and birth defects in the fetus.
- It increases cholesterol and unhealthy fats that circulate in the blood, leading to the deposit in the walls of blood vessels.
- Smoking weakens the immune system, causes muscle degeneration, weakening of bone tissue and loss of bone density.
It is always a good time to stop smoking. Stopping smoking is a very important step in improving the quality of life and longevity of smokers. Although it is difficult to quit smoking, it is definitely possible.
Below, we describe different ways to stop smoking.
1. Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy comes in forms of nicotine gum, patch and inhaler.
Nicotine Inhaler: A nicotine inhaler is in the form of a cigarette. It contains a cartridge that contains nicotine. When you inhale, the nicotine vapor is absorbed through the mouth and throat. Nicotine is not absorbed by the lungs, unlike a cigarette. As a result, you do not get the same impact from nicotine as you do with the cigarette. A nicotine inhaler may be helpful if you have problems getting rid of smoking habits, such as taking a cigarette from the carton, lighting it, putting it in your mouth, and inhaling.
Nicotine patch: A nicotine patch is in the form of an oversized adhesive bandage. The outer part adheres to your skin and the inner part presses and releases nicotine slowly into the skin. Many stickers are sold in different sizes containing different dosages of nicotine. It is important to choose the correct adhesive strength and size to stop smoking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for help on choosing the right adhesive strength.
Nicotine gum: The gum contains nicotine and looks like a chewing gum. When you chew gum, nicotine is slowly released into your mouth. The cigarette passes the nicotine immediately into the blood through the lining of the lungs and reaches the brain within seconds. Nicotine in the gum takes several minutes to reach the brain. This leads to a quicker "hit" with the gum compared to a cigarette. The gum also provides much less nicotine to the body compared to a cigarette.
2. Prescribed Medications
Many medications can help you stop smoking. Medications are taken to reduce craving for nicotine. Your doctor can help you choose which medicine or combination of medicines will help you stop smoking.
Varenicline (Champix) is a drug that reduces the urge to smoke nicotine and blocks the effects of nicotine if you smoke while taking it, making smoking less enjoyable. It is available with a prescription. Another drug is bupropion (Zyban), which also reduces craving for nicotine. These medications are easy to use and double the chances of quitting smoking.
3. external help
In Canada, Smokers' Helpline is a free confidential hotline service for smokers. They offer exercises, tips and tools to help you quit smoking and have an online support group to share experiences.
In the United States, the SmokeFree site for access to free information and resources. You can also call the NCI LINE at 1-877-44U-QUIT for individualized counseling.
4. Changing Habits
Drink water: It is good to drink water with crushed ice to help quickly eliminate nicotine and other chemicals in the body. It also helps to satisfy the oral desire for some time. Try to use a straw with the same diameter as a cigarette.
Deep breath: Deep breathing is another useful tip. Take a deep breath, instead of a cigarette break. Try to delay the lighting of your first cigarette in an hour. After the first, if you again have the urge to smoke, try putting off for 15 minutes or half an hour. By doing this, you will be in control of when to say no to yourself.
Repetition: Every night, before bedtime, give yourself five reasons to quit smoking.
Eating habits: Try to change your eating habits to reduce smoking. Drinking milk is a good way as it is considered incompatible with smoking. Finish your meals or snacks with something that will not allow you to eat a cigarette.
Spending time in areas where smoking is prohibited: During the first days of quitting, try to spend as much time as possible in non-smoking areas such as libraries, museums, department stores, churches.
Written by Pratibha Duggal
- CDC – Information Sheet – Effects on the Health of Smoking – Use of Smoking and Smoking. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm.
- 26 health effects of smoking in your body. https://www.healthline.com/health/smoking/effects-on-body#1.
- Damage to smoking and health benefits of quitting. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet.
- Get help to stop smoking – Canadian Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.ca/en/support-and-services/support-services/quit-smoking/?region=on.
- Comparing medicines to stop smoking. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0794.