WAYS TO STOP SMOKING

It is very well said that, “The best time to quit smoking is the day you start and the second best time is today.”

The act of inhalation and exhalation of tobacco smoke is termed as smoking and it can be done via cigarettes, cigars, bidis, bongs, hookahs and pipes. It is believed that tobacco cultivation began in the regions of Central America in around 6000 B.C. Studies have shown that India has one of the highest tobacco users in the world. National Health and Family Welfare second round (NFHS II, 1998-99) data showed that the prevalence of tobacco use in India was estimated to be 37% among the population of 15 years and above. This raging tobacco use is associated with a high mortality burden. As per the WHO (World Health Organization), over 1.1 billion people worldwide smoked tobacco in 2015. WHO also stated nearly 6 million deaths occur every year due to tobacco use, which may escalate to 8 million deaths a year by 2030. Smoking is the prime cause of a large number of premature deaths in India. Smoking tobacco is highly addictive and associated with increased cancer risk. The recently conducted Global Youth Tobacco Survey estimated that the prevalence of current tobacco use increased from 13.7% in 2006 to 14.6% in 2009.

Why people smoke?

There is no particular reason why people begin smoking. Some of the reasons can be peer pressure, social acceptance, celebrity influence and weight loss. Some teens say that “they just wanted to try it” or think that it is “cool” to smoke. Many people also believe that it helps them in dealing with the effects of stress and anxiety. Regular use of tobacco leads to addiction. This is due to a naturally present drug in tobacco – nicotine, which is thought to be addictive. Nicotine and other chemicals present in tobacco are quickly absorbed into our blood through the lungs and then travel to other organs. Nicotine reaches our brain in approx. 10-15 seconds and activates acetylcholine receptor which triggers the release of dopamine hormone. This hormone is also fondly called as “feel-good hormone.” Smokers usually report that they feel less stressed when they smoke and, it also makes them alert and concentrate effectively. These recurrent reactions make smokers, use a cigarette as self-medication for relaxation gradually leading to addiction. The below-mentioned image clearly displays how quickly nicotine reaches our blood vessels in a short duration.

Source

Another important reason why people continue to smoke is withdrawal symptoms. Smokers usually experience a particular blood nicotine level and when this level drops, it makes them feel uneasy and spikes urge to smoke again. Here are some of the symptoms that smokers undergo.

SYMPTOM

DURATION

INCIDENCE (%)

Lightheadedness

< 48 hours

10

Sleep Disturbance

< 1 week

25

Poor Concentration

< 2 weeks

60

Craving for nicotine

< 2 weeks

70

Irritability or aggression

< 4 weeks

50

Depression

< 4 weeks

60

Restlessness

< 4 weeks

60

Increased appetite

< 10 weeks

70

Reasons to quit smoking

Let’s get to know how smoking can terribly affect our organs.

  1. Lungs – Smoking can result in fatal diseases like pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cancer across the world and tobacco smoking accounts for up to 90% of the cases. COPD is a progressive disease and includes a collection of lung diseases like bronchitis, frequent chest infections, wheezing, difficulty in breathing and cough with phlegm.
  2. Blood Circulation – Smoking can lead to thickening of blood due to the presence of poisonous tar in cigarettes. This further increase the chances of clotting, narrowing of arteries, obstruction of blood flow and stroke.
  3. Heart – Smoking damages our heart and leads to multiple diseases due to the presence of nicotine and carbon monoxide from the smoke. It also doubles the chances of getting a heart attack.
  4. Brain – Smoking alters the secretion of chemicals regulating our stress and moods. Studies have shown that it is different for smokers and non-smokers. Our brain gets used to of nicotine and its absence makes smokers feel anxious and irritated. 
  5. Mouth and Throat – Smoking also increases the chances of developing cancers of tongue, throat, lips, oesophagus and larynx. It can also damage our taste buds and senses.
  6. Skin – Smoking results in accumulation of toxins in our body which might result in premature ageing, wrinkling and yellow-grey skin colouration.
  7. Fertility – Smoking might also affect our reproductive system resulting in reduced fertility and impotency. It makes women more prone to cervix cancer, miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
  8. Eyes – Smokers have high tendency of poor vision, loss of vision, cataracts and macular degeneration.
  9. Smokers are at high risk of developing certain chronic degenerative diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels and blood cancer.

Ways to quit smoking

In order to prevent our body from the above listed and unlisted dangers of smoking, here are a few ways which might be helpful. Agree, they might be difficult but not impossible.

  1. Nicotine replacement therapies – Since a smoker becomes completely addicted so nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) might prove beneficial to quit smoking. This includes providing only nicotine in the form of inhalers, gums, sprays, patches and not harmful chemicals present in tobacco. With proper guidance and support, NRT has been shown to be effective to quit smoking.
  2. Getting occupied in a hobby or sport to distract. Else, a person can go for a walk, call a friend, watch TV, do exercise; in case he/she feels an urge to smoke.
  3. Always keep the detrimental health effects of smoking in mind. This helps one stay motivated.
  4. Consulting a physician for non-nicotine based medication. These medications assist in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Reading motivational books, articles and success stories to give up smoking.
  6. A person should never feel disheartened in case of slip-up. This might happen during initial stages.
  7. Keep stress at bay as it is the most prevalent provoking factor.
  8. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with a regular workout schedule.
  9. Chew some sugarless gums, mint gums, candies, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  10. Keep a check on the factors which triggers the cravings so that they can be avoided.

To conclude, we can say that there is no safe level of using tobacco. It lacks health benefits, instead pulls us gradually towards death. Nicotine consumption is not a solution but a root cause of many problems. Quit smoking not to please any one but for your own health.

REFERENCES

  • Singh, A., & Ladusingh, L. (2014). Prevalence and determinants of tobacco use in India: evidence from recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey data. PloS one, 9(12), e114073. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114073
  • Jarvis M. J. (2004). Why people smoke. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 328(7434), 277-9.
  • Furrukh M. (2013). Tobacco Smoking and Lung Cancer: Perception-changing facts. Sultan Qaboos University medical journal, 13(3), 345-58.
  • Tommola, M., Ilmarinen, P.,Tuomisto, L.E., Haanpää, J., Kankaanranta,T., Niemelä, O., & Kankaanranta, Hannu.(2016).European Respiratory Journal.48,1298-1306
  • Pavlovska, I., Orovcanec, N., Tausanova, B., Zafirova, B.(2012).European Respiratory Journal 40,4890
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