14 Ideas to Help Quit Smoking reviewed and edited by Ermal Selimaj, M.D. Dr. Selimaj is a general practicioner in a state hospital, with a work background in pneumology.
When I quit smoking, "my teeth began to once again gleam," "I had a surplus of insatiable energy", with more "energy, attention span and health to channel into my creative work" recalls Zara Barrie, health and wellness writer for Elite Daily on the benefits from quitting smoking.
Left: healthy lung Right: non-cancerous smoker's lung
Comparing a healthy lung with the lung of a smoker provides incentive to never start smoking, and to make earnest efforts to quit smoking.
Zara continues, I even "got my period again (which I know might sound like a negative, but after a year [without], it’s arrival [was welcomed]". She had become a compulsive chain smoker, whose life revolved around smoking. She also claims that her love life took a sharp turn for the better, as well, after quitting smoking.
Not everyone's experience with quitting smoking is so dramatic, but that you will accrue benefits from quitting is more of a fact than an opinion. Consider 10 benefits of quitting smoking in this article, as well as 14 ideas to help you to quit smoking for good!
The average smoker dies approximately 10 years earlier than a non-smoker.
Smoking affects numerous parts of the human body, the predominant areas of the body affected are the lungs and the cardiovascular system. Diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and chronic pulmonary diseases are caused and abetted by smoking.
Smoking is the number one cause of pulmonary cancer. It also may have an affect on the mind and an influence on mental health. To quit smoking, then, positively affects both the body and mind, as well as contributing to overall wellness.
WILLPOWER is one of the most important qualities to develop in order to quit smoking. You have to have confidence that you can beat the cravings for nicotine by engaging in other activities and by modifying behaviors. Anyone can quit smoking--you may not succeed the first attempt, but you may in future efforts with renewed motivation. Keep trying, and don't give up!
10 Benefits of Quitting Smoking
1. Longer Life. Quitting smoking results in a longer life with a lower risk of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cardiovascular problems. Each cigarette smoked results in an estimated eleven-minute reduction in lifespan (Shaw, M., Mitchell, R. 2000), or about 10 years of life vs. the lifespan of non-smokers (CDC. 2014).
2. Eliminate Cough, Sore Throat
. The persistent cough, sore throat, and secretions will be reduced and in the most of cases totally eliminated. Also, shortness of breath decreases when you quit.
3. Blood Circulation
. Improvement of blood circulation resulting in a lowering of blood pressure results from quitting smoking. Smoking causes stiffening of arteries, causing an increase in blood pressure. In about 15 years after you quit smoking your risk for cardiovascular diseases will have decreased to that of a non-smoker.
4. Get Into Shape
. The ability to exercise and "get back into shape" is enhanced by quitting smoking. Everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath (such as climbing stairs or light housework).
5. Cleaner Body
- Better breath and personal smell result from quitting smoking. Many non-smokers are repulsed by the smell of lingering cigarette smoke on the person of a smoker. Kissable breath and clothes that don't smell like stale cigarette smoke are benefits of giving up the smoking habit. Cleaner teeth and fingers are additional benefits of quitting--yellow teeth and stained fingers and fingernails get back to normal over time when you quit smoking.
6. Taste Food Better
. Quit smoking so as to be able to really taste
7. Social Acceptance
. The American Cancer Society states, "Smoking is less socially acceptable now than ever. This can cost you in terms of friends, money, and convenience." Pleasing your family and friends can be a benefit of quitting smoking (Quitting Smoking for Dummies).
8. Personal Economy
. Quitting smoking results in an improved personal economy. Near retirement age, Ana had smoked for over 20 years. When the price of a pack of cigarettes continued to climb, it finally gave her needed incentive to quit, and she remained smoke free for the rest of her life.
According to the American Lung Association, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is $5.51. At a pack a day, that translates to around $3,000 per year.
However, the American Lung Association puts the real cost to the overall economy in the U.S. at $18.05 per pack (in terms of health care expenses and losses in worker productivity).
9. Set an Example for Children and Others
. Gain satisfaction in setting a good example for others (including your children, who tend to follow the example of parents).
. One smoker who had recently quit said, "I hate the idea of cigarettes controlling me."
Being in control of your own choices and habits is another fantastic benefit of quitting smoking. You make the choice to smoke or not to smoke, and you are in control, not the cigarette.
Additional Sources: American Cancer Society, Quitting Smoking for Dummies, US Surgeon Generals Report
Prepare to Quit Smoking
Smoking, drugs and alcohol can affect mental health. You can quit smoking with determination, effort, practical methods, and commitment.
Addiction to smoking is not only a physical dependence, but it is also a mental dependence. Addiction develops because of the nicotine in tobacco; nicotine can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Nicotine reaches the brain about 10 seconds after inhalation (UCDAVIS Health System), improving the mood and often also reducing anger, stress, and appetite.
After you have smoked a cigarette the level of nicotine in your brain shortly decreases, causing withdrawal symptoms; the only way to counteract these cravings and withdrawal symptoms is by smoking another cigarette.
This is why smoking cessation is difficult--BUT it is not impossible!
14 Ideas to Help Quit Smoking
Motivation Through Awareness
1. Recognize the seriousness of smoking - so many life-threatening diseases (approximately 25) can result from smoking such as:
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
various other cancers (pharyngeal--throat cancer, bladder cancer, in females it is a risk factor for breast and ovarian cancer, etc).
2. Brain and mental health
. Understand how smoking can affect your brain and mental health. Smoking may contribute to some mental health disorders for some smokers. According to recent studies, researchers of Otago University in New Zealand and to the British Journal of Psychiatry note that there is a higher rate of depression in smokers. (University of Otago. 2010).
The researchers state that there is a "significant comorbidity between nicotine-dependence symptoms and depressive symptoms at ages 18, 21 and 25", noting a "direct cause and effect association between smoking and depression." (Boden, Fergusson, Horwood. 2010, May).
3. Child and fetal health
. Be aware that second hand smoke can affect your children's health. Smoking can affect the health of your unborn baby. Research at Durham University notes that smoking dramatically affects "the facial movements of mothers' unborn babies" (Durham University News. 2015, March 23).
4. Avoid Rationalizations about Smoking
Fetus of smoking mother top; fetus of non-smoking mother bottom. Fetus of smoking mother seems to be affected. Image: Durham University News. 2015
. The American Cancer Society encourages those quitting smoking to avoid rationalizations. The AMC states that a "rationalization is a mistaken thought that seems to make sense to you at the time, but the thought is not based on reality." This form of self-deception serves to justify continuation of smoking. It is a way of lying to yourself.
Some of these self-deceiving rationalizations can be:
"I'll just have one to get through this rough spot."
"Today is not a good day. I'll quit tomorrow."
"It's my only vice."
"How bad is smoking, really? Uncle Harry smoked all his life and he lived to be over 90."
This rationalization is used very frequently. Some say, my uncle or my father was a heavy smoker and he lived to be.... It can happen, but it is a scientific fact that smoking increases the risk for cancer by up to 25-times compared to a nonsmoker, and decreases lifespan by 10 years on average (maybe Uncle Harry would have lived to 100 without smoking!)
Main Source (4): American Cancer Society
5. Prepare yourself for withdrawal side effects of quitting smoking
such as, restlessness, irritability, anger, loss of self control, and depression. Realize that these withdrawal symptoms usually pass in a matter of days, weeks, or months.
The withdrawal symptoms don't last forever, you and your family can endure it. Keeping the long-term positive benefits of quitting smoking foremost will help you endure the withdrawal period.
6. Plan a Day to Quit Smoking and Stick with It
Prepare your mind to quit smoking. Pick a day to quit and stick with it.
Write the day on the calendar, not too far in the future, and throw out your cigarettes, matches, and anything associated with smoking on that day.
Tell your friends and family about your plan. Perhaps find a friend that wants to quit too. You will help each other and it can be a mutual challenge and support, which can be easier than quitting alone.
7. Plan activities for that day
(the day you plan to quit smoking) to keep yourself busy. Go someplace where you won't be tempted to smoke, preferably with a friend.
Before, during (the day of), and after the day you quit, exercise, and engage in exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, most days of the week. You may wish to maintain an exercise partner. Walking, biking, running, hiking, swimming, and working out at the gym are healthful activities for both your body and your mind.
Plan to keep up your exercise routine for a year, and then extend it indefinitely. You may need to make adjustments in your routine, but keep the positive benefits of exercise, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, and as an aid to permanently quitting smoking foremost in mind.
8. Give up drinking alcohol
. One struggling smoker said, "When I quit smoking, I avoided the bars". (Shaw, G.) If your main goal is to quit smoking, consider giving up drinking alcohol as well. Drinking alcohol can weaken your will to quit smoking, and vice-versa. Hanging out in bars is a sure way to backslide.
9. Prepare healthy, low-calorie snacks
such as carrot sticks or celery sticks to carry with you or keep at work during the day. If you ever feel like having a cigarette, pop a carrot stick in your mouth. If the time after meals and coffee is the time you want a cigarette the most, find a substitute, chew gum, pop sugar-free candies or mints, or even stick a toothpick in your mouth; these will keep your mouth busy and you help circumvent the desire to put a cigarette in your mouth.
Keep non-fattening and healthy snacks on hand, like carrot or celery sticks.
Some find chewing gum fills the cigarette gap; others may take up a less harmful addiction such as drinking tea often during the day (the British traditionally maintain a five times a day tea break). Keep an electric teapot at work and sip herb teas instead of smoking. Green teas have a little edge to them, while having positive health benefits. Green tea with jasmine, softens up the edge of some green teas, and provides extra flavor.
The diversity of tasty herb teas and green teas, in addition to typical caffeinated black teas, keeps the relatively (harmless) addiction of drinking tea interesting and helps calm your nerves, if that is one of the reasons for reaching for a cigarette.
. The Five Day Plan to Quit Smoking is described as "one of the oldest and most effective smoking cessation programs to date." It recommends regular exercise as an aid to quit smoking. Take a "short walk after each meal, plan 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day". The plan recommends "walking" as an "excellent" exercise to implement daily into your routine. (We are cautioned to visit our health care provider before starting any major changes in our exercise regimen).
11. Enlist Support of Family and Friends
. Involve your entire family and network of friends in your efforts to quit smoking. Enlist their support. Request that they remind you, and to ask how you are doing in your resolve to quit smoking. Knowing that someone is checking up on you is encouragement to keep on track. Be honest, don't lie to yourself or others about setbacks in smoking.
. Belief.net enlists prayer as one supportive aid in quitting smoking. Every time you feel tempted to buy cigarettes or smoke, pray for help. Catholic, Evangelical, Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist, and Muslim sources recommend prayer to help quit smoking.
Pray daily for help to quit smoking. Realize that it is important and that, for those with belief in a Creator, God is interested in your success--it is pleasing to Him that we maintain healthful habits associated with physical cleanliness. The expression goes, "cleanliness is next to godliness," and this is true of our internal bodies as well.
For those who don't believe in a personal God, living lives in harmony with the order of the universe, and maintaining environmental soundness, which includes clean internal physical bodies, is of spiritual value.
Additionally, work in harmony with your prayer: stay away from situations where you will be tempted to smoke. Rather than visiting local delis or corner grocery stores that sell cigarettes, shop for food at larger supermarkets, where there is less likelihood of an impetuous purchase of cigarettes.
13. Visit your doctor
and talk to him about your plans to quit. He may have some useful suggestions or give you needed support.
A 2013 campaign from The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage smokers to make an appointment with their doctors and talk to them about assistance to quit smoking.
These organizations hope that this will "empower patients to ask their doctors and other health care providers" for help in quitting. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals note that May 31 is "World No Tobacco Day".
. If you relapse, don't give up but try harder. We have all tried to change life-habits, and very few of us succeed 100% on the first attempt. If you regress, mount up your efforts, analyze where you went wrong, and try again with more determination.
If you weaken and buy a pack of cigarettes, throw out the pack of cigarettes and continue in your struggle. Don't keep the pack of cigarettes after you succumb. You stand to gain more economically in the long-run than the cost of the single pack of cigarettes, if you continue to endeavor to overcome the detrimental smoking habit.
Enlist the support of your friends and family. Sign an agreement with them, allowing your family and friends to throw out any cigarettes they might find in your belongings.
Don't give up, and keep at it. You can and will succeed. Believe in yourself and in that you will succeed if you are determined. This is true of alcohol or drug addiction as well. Millions have done it and you can also.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy products
Nicotine Replacement Therapy products such as nicotine gum and patches were evaluated in a study recently published by researchers of the Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard School of Public Health. They concluded that such were not effective, and that the relapse rate for smokers was the same with or without nicotine replacement therapy products. In fact, among the most addicted smokers, nicotine replacement products seem to increase risk of relapse rather than decrease relapse rate. (Alpert, Connolly, Biener. 2012.)
References and Resources for 14 Ideas to Help to Quit Smoking page
1. Alpert, H.R., Connolly, G. N., Biener, L. (2012, January 10). A prospective cohort study challenging the effectiveness of population-based medical intervention for smoking cessation
. Tobacco Control
2. Barrie, Z. (2015, June 19). How My Love Life, Career And Personality Changed When I Quit Smoking. Elite Daily. https://elitedaily.com/life/life-changed-quit-smoking/1077928/
3. Boden, J. M., Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, J. L. (2010, May). Cigarette smoking and depression
: tests of causal linkages using a longitudinal birth cohort. The British Journal of Psychiatry May 2010, 196 (6)
440-446; DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.109.065912 https://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/196/6/440
3. Brizer, D., M.D. (2003). Quitting Smoking for Dummies
. Hoboken: Wiley.
4. Cunningham, A. (2007, July 27). Prayers for Cigarette Smokers. Belief.net. https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/chatteringmind/2007/05/prayers-for-cigarette-smokers.html
5. DHH Encourages Smokers to "Talk With Your Doctor" for Help Quitting for Good; May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. (2013, May 30). QUIT WITH US, LA
6. The Five Day Plan to Quit Smoking. University Health Services - University of Wisconsin-Madison
. Retrieved July 5, 2015 from https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/health-topics/tobacco/documents/Five_Day_Plan.pdf
7. Guide to Quit Smoking
. (2014, February 6). American Cancer Society
8. High-definition scans suggest effects of smoking may be seen in unborn babies
. (2015, March 23). Durham University News
9. How to Quit. (2011, June 27). American Cancer Society
10. Immediate Rewards of Quitting Smoking. American Cancer Society.
11. Quit Tobacco Top 10 Facts
. UCDAVIS Health System - Health Management and Education
. Retrieved July 5, 2015 from https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/livinghealthy/smoking_cess_info/
12. Smoking increases risk of depression
. (2010, June). University of Otago
- New Zealand. https://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago009007.html
13. Shaw, G. Stopping Weight Gain While Quitting Smoking. WebMD
. Retrieved July 5, 2015 from https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/stopping-weight-gain-while-quitting-smoking
14. Shaw, M., Mitchell, R. (2000, January 1). Time for a smoke? One cigarette reduces your life by 11 minutes. BMJ 2000
;320. https://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7226.53. As cited at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1117323/
15. Stadmiller, M. (2012, Aug 7). I'm Not Supposed to Be Revealing This: But Here's How I Finally Quit Smoking. XOJane
16. Tobacco Related Mortality
. (2014, November 21). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
17. Why Quit Smoking? How You can Quit Smoking. (2000, March 22). Awake.
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