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It is a well-known fact that smoking is harmful to health. Tobacco contains many unsafe substances such as acetone, tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. When this is inhaled, they not only affect your lungs but your entire body system. Smoking endangers almost every organ in the body, causes many diseases and affects the general health of smokers.
Harmful effects of smoking
- Smoking affects the respiratory system by causing emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer.
- This has an effect on the heart and blood vessels such as increased blood pressure, weakening of blood vessels, blood clots, increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- This 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. This decreases sexual performance in men and makes it difficult for a woman to get pregnant. It also increases the likelihood of miscarriages and birth defects in unborn babies.
- This increases cholesterol and unhealthy fat that circulates in the blood which leads to their deposits in the walls of blood vessels.
- Smoking weakens the immune system, causes muscle degeneration, thinning of bone tissue, and loss of bone density.
It's always a good time to stop smoking. Quitting smoking is a very important step to improve the quality of life and longevity of smokers. Even though it's hard to stop smoking, it's definitely possible.
Below, we explain the different ways to stop smoking.
1. Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy comes in the form of nicotine gum, patches, and inhalers.
Nicotine Inhaler: The nicotine inhaler is a cigarette. It contains a cartridge that contains nicotine. When you inhale, nicotine vapor is absorbed into your mouth and throat. Nicotine is not absorbed into your lungs, unlike cigarettes. As a result, you are not exposed to nicotine just like smoking. Nicotine inhalers may be useful if you have a problem freeing yourself from smoking, such as pulling a cigarette out of a pack, turning it on, putting it in your mouth and inhaling.
Nicotine patch: Nicotine patch in the form of a large adhesive bandage. The outside attaches to your skin and the inside presses and slowly releases nicotine to the skin. Many fillings are sold in various sizes containing different nicotine strengths. It is important to choose the right strength and size of the patch to stop smoking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to get help in choosing the right patch strength.
Nicotine gum: Chewing gum contains nicotine and feels like gum. When you chew gum, nicotine is slowly released into your mouth. Cigarette smoking passes nicotine directly into the blood through the lining of the lungs, and reaches the brain in a few seconds. Nicotine in candy takes a few minutes to reach the brain. This causes a "blow" that is less fast with gum than cigarettes. Chewing gum also provides far less nicotine to the body than cigarettes.
2. Prescription drugs
Many drugs can help you stop smoking. Medications are taken to reduce the desire for nicotine. Your doctor can help you choose drugs or drug combinations that will help you stop smoking.
Varenicline (Champix) is a drug that reduces the desire to smoke nicotine and blocks the effects of nicotine if you smoke while drinking it, making smoking less enjoyable. This is available by prescription. Another remedy is Bupropion (Zyban) which also reduces the desire for nicotine. These drugs are easy to use and double the possibility of quitting smoking.
3. External assistance
In Canada, the Smokers website Helpline is a free secret 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 website for access to free information and resources. You can also contact the NCI channel at 1-877-44U-QUIT for individual counseling.
4. Change habits
Drink water: It is good to drink water with crushed ice, to help flush nicotine and other chemicals from your body quickly. It also helps to satisfy oral desires for some time. Try using a straw of the same diameter as a cigarette.
Breathe in: Deep breathing is another useful tip. Take a deep breath break, in the cigarette rest area. Try to delay turning on your first cigarette with one hour. After the first, if you have the desire to smoke again, try to delay 15 minutes or half an hour. That way, you will be able to control when to say no to yourself.
Repetition: Every night, before going to bed, give five reasons to stop smoking.
Eating habit: Try changing your eating habits to reduce smoking. Drinking milk is a good way because it is considered inappropriate for smoking. End your meal or snack with something that won't allow you to smoke.
Spend time in areas where smoking is prohibited: As long as the first few days stop, try to spend as much time as possible in areas where smoking is prohibited such as libraries, museums, department stores, churches.
Written by Pratibha Duggal
- CDC – Fact Sheet – Effects of Cigarette Health Smoking – Smoking & Tobacco Use. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm.
- 26 Health Effects of Smoking on Your Body. https://www.healthline.com/health/smoking/effects-on-body#1.
- Cigarette Smoking Losses and Health Benefits of Quitting. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet.
- Get help to quit 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.