Kicking the smoking habit can be very hard but it is not impossible and it is the best thing you can do for your health - ever!
Smokers live shorter lives than non-smokers and in addition, smoking is a risk factor for heart and cancer problems. The good news is that these risks reduce after quitting. So it is never too late to start on the road to health.
It is never too late to quit… but the earlier the better for your health and well being.
Why people don't quit
1. Possible weight gain… Although putting on unnecessary weight is not favourable for your health either, the risks from the extra weight gain far less than the risks of smoking. It is reported that the average weight gained is only 2.4kg (remember this is the average!) and of course, weight gain is easily controlled by exercise and a healthy diet.
2. Nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms are too much to bear… There is no getting around this one, many people may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms after they quit smoking. This is a problem that most quitters will have to face, but be rest assured, this is a temporary symptom and shows that your body is well on the way to repairing itself. Symptoms may include anxiety, impaired concentration, depression and insomnia. You may feel really bad for the first 2 - 3 days but many people find things have improved considerably after a week or two.
3. Smoking is many people's way of handling stress… Please remember, there are other more beneficial ways to cope with stress and to relax. If necessary talk to your pharmacist or doctor for advice or try stress management techniques. It is important to pinpoint and understand exactly what causes you stress in your life and to take steps to change these situations.
Effects of smoking
If you smoke, there is an increased risk of:-
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases such as asthma and emphysema
- High blood pressure
- Cancers - Many different types
- Health risks if you are taking the 'pill‘
- Wrinkles and skin problems
- Slower healing
- Lower fitness levels
Health Risks If you are pregnant:-
- Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies
- Your child could be 'still born'
- Premature birth
- Sudden infant death syndrome (cot death)
- Low birth weight
- Complications can increase
- Retarded growth
- Childhood asthma
- Other respiratory problems during childhood.
Do you know WHY you want to quit?
People who have quit say that it is important to be clear about the reasons for quitting. If you are not committed enough, you may not stay off cigarettes permanently. Some good reasons are:
- Smoking kills you
- Smoking will harm your unborn child
- Cigarettes are full of poisons
- Smoking causes disease
- Fitness levels
- To save money
- To help your appearance.
Staying off Cigarettes
Relapsing... It has been noted that the first 2 weeks after you quit will be the most challenging for you. During this period of time, it is important for you to be very careful and plan your days as well as the types of social occasions you attend. After this time you may feel a new found confidence in your ability to say no but you will need to be careful for a few months after quitting.
- Think of yourself as a ‘non-smoker’ from the moment you quit.
- Definitely don't believe that you can have 'just one cigarette' and try not to allow friends or family to encourage you to have just one - many relapses begin this way.
If slips occur, don't be too hard on yourself but it is important to look at why you slipped up and what situation you were in when you did. If you examine these factors, you may be able to cope better with them next time they arise. Then set a date to quit and try again. You can do it!
Remember - The worst is over.
Eventually, you won't feel that urge to smoke, even though it is hard to believe at first but you will reach a point where you will not even think about cigarettes. They may even disgust you after a while. So stick with it. But it is important to know the situations that may trigger the urge to smoke. You may need to be prepared for these in case that old urge comes back when you least expect it.
There is always something better than a cigarette.
Forever a non-smoker
When you feel the urge to smoke…
- Eventually you will know the events, moods and emotions that make you want to smoke. Such as stress, grief, anger, guilt, hunger. You will eventually find many new ways to deal with these events.
- Breathe deeply and slowly
- Relax your body and your mind
- Ask a friend for a neck and shoulder massage
- Make a change in your routine.
- Exercise to take your mind off cigarettes.
Change your routine....
- Start a total health plan - get up that little bit earlier and go for a walk, take your dog so it can get healthier too or try changing your breakfast routine.
- Change the layout of your home, the décor, rooms etc so you feel you have changed
- Eat some sugar-free popcorn or chewing gum while watching television or at those times when you normally smoke.
- Have a pen and paper by the phone so you can doodle, or move around while you are talking instead of lighting up a cigarette.
- Find a soft toy or rubber ball to play with or squeeze if you are feeling fidgety in the car
- Go off alcohol for a while and try a soft drink or natural juices instead.
Another Idea - The Nicotine Patch
For many smokers, the Nicotine Patch can make quitting more comfortable. The patch temporarily gives your body a steady supply of nicotine through the skin to help prevent withdrawal symptoms and cigarette cravings. A new patch is applied once daily to the skin and patches should be used for about 2 months.
The nicotine patch can double your chance of success. You are likely to benefit from the nicotine patch if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day or smoke your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking.
Nicotine gum can also be helpful for some smokers and is available from our Pharmacist without a prescription.
THE RISKS OF CONTINUING TO SMOKE ARE MANY:
- Heart attack
- Wrinkles and skin problems
- Children may suffer
- Teeth discolouration
- General health problems