Why should you quit smoking?
Smoking is a habit many are keen to quit. The reasons for giving up are numerous but they don’t make it an easier task.
Here are some reasons to quit smoking:
You will live longer and have a healthier life. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, a persistent cough, a suppressed immune system, erectile dysfunction, difficulty conceiving and tooth decay amongst others. Smokers who are able to quit add years to their lifespan. It’s thought half of all smokers will die due to a smoking-related disease.
Your loved ones
As well as destroying your own health smoking destroys the health of your family and friends. All of the above applies to those in contact with your second-hand smoke, particularly children who also experience a higher risk of pneumonia and infections.
Smoking ruins your looks. It breaks down collagen in your skin leading to aging wrinkles and suppresses your circulatory system so your skin and hair look grey, dull and brittle. Smoking also stains your teeth and causes gum disease meaning will lose your teeth early.
Smoking is expensive and the cost rises each year. Stop smoking tools such as nicotine replacement therapy and prescription medicines may seem expensive, but compared to the cost of smoking they are minimal. Compared to a lifetime of smoking the temporary costs of stop smoking aids amount to very little.
The best ways to stop smoking
There are many ways to stop smoking, but not all of them are easy. In fact, all stop smoking tools require some willpower. You must want to give up and take the process seriously.
If you have smoked for a long period of time it will be harder, but the benefits far outweigh the temporary difficulties of quitting.
Prescription treatments like Champix are clinically proven and highly effective supports. You take two tablets per day for 12 weeks and during this time Champix helps to lessen cravings and stops the feeling of reward you get from smoking. This makes it easier to quit for good.
Prescription medicine is available from your doctor or online, but it does not suit everyone. There may be side effects and you cannot take it if you are pregnant, under 18, or have certain medical conditions.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
NRT encompasses all quit smoking methods that supply an amount of nicotine. Quitters are advised to cut down slowly before quitting altogether.
NRT include nicotine patches, gums, inhalers and sprays. A prescription is not required and many people have success with these methods if they are commented to a gradual cutting down of the replacement therapy.
Hypnotherapy is an option if you want to quit smoking. It is not clinically proven or regulated but is a potential option for those unable to take medicines or NRTs.
Alongside your chosen method you must have support to be successful. It is not easy to quit smoking. You will need willpower, commitment and support from your friends and family. Your GP can offer support by monitoring your blood pressure and referring you to a stop smoking clinic. It is helpful to attend these sessions as they can boost your confidence and keep you on track. The Stop Smoking service offers a helpline you can call if you feel the need to smoke.
Medical professionals believe you are more likely to quit smoking for good if you seek the help of additional support services. Going ‘cold turkey’, which means quitting with no support in place, often leads to failure. This is disheartening and puts people off trying again. It thought only three out of 100 people who try cold turkey have managed to quit for good.
Whichever method you choose to help you quit, you will need to exercise willpower. None of these options will stop you from smoking overnight. Prescription medicines have the highest success rate, but not everyone is suited to them.
The Stop Smoking Timeline
The benefits you reap from quitting tobacco are immediate and far-reaching. Here is the stop smoking timeline, a list of benefits you can expect and when they occur.
- After twenty minutes: Your heart rate drops to a normal level
- After two hours: Your blood pressure will drop to normal levels and your circulation will improve. At this point, withdrawal symptoms will start up including anxiety, cravings and frustration.
- After 12 hours: Carbon monoxide in your body decreases to lower levels and in response the oxygen in your blood increases.
- After one day: Your risk of coronary artery disease begins to reduce – and your risk of having a heart attack.
- After two days: Nerve endings begin to regrow. Your taste and smell will begin to improve.
- After three days: Nicotine is out of your body. Withdrawal symptoms are at their highest level.
- After two-three weeks: Cravings begin to lessen. Physical exercise becomes easier as you are less out of breath.
- After one – nine months. Your lungs begin to repair themselves. They become able to push infection and mucus from your lungs.
- After one year. Happy Anniversary – your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.
- After five years: Your stroke risk is the same as a non-smoker’s.
- After ten years: The risk of dying from lung cancer is half the risk of a smoker’s. The risk of developing other cancers is reduced too.
- After 15 years your risk of heart disease has returned to that of a non-smoker.
When you give up smoking the benefits reach throughout your lengthened lifespan. It is never too late to cut down and quit smoking for good.
Second-hand smoke, also known as passive smoking, is when others breathe in your smoke.
Most of the smoke you inhale is exhaled back out into the environment, and whilst you are breathing out your cigarette is burning it’s toxins into the air. 80% of tobacco smoke is invisible and opening the window does not clear the room of its poisons, even after several hours smoke remains behind.
In the UK it is now illegal to smoke in a car with a child. This is due to evidence that second-hand smoke makes children seriously ill and can lead to premature death. Asthma and allergies are much more prevalent in smoking households.
It’s not possible to protect your family and friends from passive smoking. The only way to protect them is to quit for good.
Vaping and e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes are a nicotine replacement therapy. They come in the form of an inhaler with a cartridge that is heated to produce a nicotine vapour. This is why the action of using an electronic cigarette is called ‘vaping’. Those using e-cigarettes should cut down gradually until they are able to stop completely.
One benefit of e-cigarettes is that they contain addictive nicotine, but do not contain the tar that causes cancer. However, other additives in the liquid cartridge give some scientists cause for concern. Flavouring used to make the vapour taste pleasant may lead to breathing conditions such as popcorn lung.
There are few clinical studies to support or denounce vaping because the treatment is so new, but many doctors agree that it’s better than smoking traditional cigarettes and cigars.
Side effects of vaping include:
- Dry mouth
- E-cigarettes are designed to help you cut down on the amount of nicotine your body is dependent upon, but as with all nicotine replacement therapy, some quitters find it difficult to cut down and keep taking in the same amount of nicotine as a smoker.
Choosing the right treatment to help you quit smoking can be confusing. If you are serious about giving up visit your doctor or stop smoking service for advice. It is best not to try giving up without support, as it is difficult.
A doctor can prescribe Champix after a health check. Champix has the best success rate when coupled with additional support from the Stop Smoking service or family. However, it does not suit everyone. Your doctor can also advise you on hypnotherapy if you would like to try it. Bear in mind there are no regulations to manage hypnotherapy in the UK. Ask your doctor for advice.
Nicotine replacement therapy is available over-the-counter at pharmacies and online. It is very popular as a prescription is not required, but it does take commitment and the ability to self-monitor.
Herbal remedies offered in shops and online have no clinical evidence to back up their claims. At best they will provide a placebo effect; at worst they may damage your health.
Whatever you decide to use, quitting tobacco is for the best. Not only will your own health improve, but that of your loved ones, and your finances too. It’s never too late to quit smoking.