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How To Quit Smoking - Information And Advice On How To Quit Smoking.

Quit Smoking

Quitting Smoking

Why Smokers should Quit

For those of us that smoke, quitting is as pleasant to contemplate as a root canal without novocaine. But, let's face it; there are several good reasons for quitting smoking. Everyone knows that cigarettes and cigars lead to lung cancer, but what is not as well known is that smoking is a leading factor for heart attacks and strokes, especially in diabetics. Also, studies have shown (pay attention fellas!) that men who smoke are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). Smoking diminishes blood flow to the penis, and also lowers sperm count. Smoking is becoming socially unacceptable. Having to go outside on a cold day in sub-zero weather to smoke is not anyone's idea of a fun winter sport. And too, smoking is an expensive habit; in the state of Michigan, for example, cigarettes cost an average of $3.50 per pack. Do the math; 3.50 x 365 = $1,277.50. That is a lot of money to suck into your lungs.

Why people keep smoking

Most smokers hate being lectured on how bad smoking is for you, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. So we are not going to belabor those particular points. What we are going to talk about is why you smoke and what to do about it. Most people start smoking quite young, early to mid-teens. There are myriad reasons for doing so; peer pressure (everyone's doing it), family influence (mom, dad, Uncle Bob-who-is-so-much-fun, smokes), low self-esteem and media/marketing. It is unknown exactly how many teens are influenced by the Virginia Slims woman, Joe Camel, and the good guys and gals in the movies and on TV that smoke tobacco. But it is quite rare for someone to begin smoking as an adult. So the problem is that once a person starts smoking, they are addicted.

Smoking is not just a bad habit; it is an addiction. Smokers become physically addicted to nicotine and the other chemicals in cigarettes. Nicotine is so physically addictive for some people that some studies have shown that stopping smoking can be as psychologically and physically unpleasant as heroin withdrawal. The first step in quitting smoking, then is realizing that it is an addiction, not merely a bad habit.

Be determined to quit

Ok, so we have established that we have an addiction. So, what do we do about it? For one thing, you really have to want to quit. Smoking is pleasureable, relieves stress, and controls the appetite. On the other hand, if we don't quit smoking we won't be around to eat, stress out, or have some pleasure. Some studies have shown that smokers are less likely to have Alzheimer's disease. In this writer's opinion, there is a good reason...they don't live long enough. Aside from living longer, ex-smokers feel and smell better and have a little more money. Ex-smokers have better smelling houses and cars, and happier families.

How to Quit

Now we need to establish how to quit. One of the first steps is to modify behavior that causes you to smoke. Psychological reasons aside, there is a pattern with most of us where in certain situations you are more inclined to smoke than others. Some people reach for a cigarette when they are on the phone, with that first cup of coffee in the morning, after a meal, etc. Since quitting is so hard, here are a few tips that can help.

  • Set a quit date. This may be the first day of the year, your birthday, your spouse's birthday, etc. This date should be at least two weeks from the day you make up your mind to quit (i.e., if you decide on the first that you definitely want to quit, circle on your calendar the 14th.) This gives your mind a chance to adjust to the fact that you will become smoke-free.
  • Try a process called nicotine fading. This is going from your regular brand to a brand lower in nicotine. For example, if your regular brand is Benson & Hedges regular menthol, go to Benson & Hedges Lights the first week, then Benson & Hedges Ultra Lights the second week. This gives your body a chance to adjust to less nicotine. The third week is your week to quit.
  • Stack up on good, healthy snacks. Fruits and veggies of course, but also pretzels, and low-fat hard candies will give your mouth the physical sensation of doing something. However, if you are feeling really sorry for yourself ( easy to do!), indulge in a piece of chocolate, or maybe some low-fat ice cream or sherbet. Chances are good that you will gain a few pounds-most former smokers do. The reason why is that nicotine is not speeding up your metabolism, and since your taste buds no longer are exposed to tobacco, food tastes better. It is better to gain a few pounds than to keep smoking.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially when you get an urge to smoke. Low calorie soft drinks also can help ward off cravings.
  • When you are feeling stressed out, exercise. If you work at a desk, get up and stretch, and walk around for a few minutes. If your employer has an on-site athletic facility, take advantage of it. If not, invest (remember, you are going to have more money) in some exercise equipment for your home. Start off slowly, however, especially if you have not been exercising regularly. Also, exercise will help keep off those unwanted pounds.
  • Start a hobby that involves using your hands. This can include woodworking, crocheting, knitting, etc. One of the hardest parts of quitting smoking is finding something to do with your hands.
  • Some smokers have had success quitting through accupuncture or hypnosis. Doctors often can direct their patients to one of these practitioners.
  • You might want the assistance of one of several over the counter products that can be used for nicotine replacement. Nicotine Patches applied to the skin release nicotine into the body, thus reducing the craving for tobacco. Also, Nicotine Gum, a drug in gum form, releases nicotine in the body through the mucous membranes in the mouth. These products have been proven to be highly successful for people that are determined to quit. One very important factor to remember when using these products is that you absolutely cannot smoke when using these nicotine replacements.

If you find that you cannot quit without help, consult your physician. There are prescription drugs specifically for quitting smoking.

Good News about Quitting

Quitting smoking is not impossible, but it is very difficult. Even for "social" smokers, totally eliminating cigarettes is not easy. And, despite what cigarette manufacturers advertise regarding low tar, etc. there is absolutely no such thing as a safe cigarette. For women who are considering having children, it is best to quit before you get pregnant. (An interesting bit of history here - in the early to mid-part of this century, pregnant women were sometimes advised to smoke during their pregnancy to avoid excessive weight gain. It seems incredible, but then most of their doctors were smokers too!). The best thing about quitting smoking is that your body starts to repair itself instantly. After five years of not smoking, former smokers have approximately the same risk of heart attacks and strokes as persons who never smoked. In addition to the health benefits, just think what you could do with the extra money. Many former smokers find as an incentive for staying tobacco free is to take the money they would have spent on cigarettes and put it in a jar or piggy bank, then after a year taking the money and treating themselves to something that they want. Now, isn't that good news?