Smoking is hazardous for our health in many ways. It causes many serious diseases like lung cancer, heart diseases, etc. The smoke also affects our environment which adversely affects our health. To help you get on the wagon, we’ve compiled a list of little known ways your life can go up in smoke if you don’t kick the habit.From an increased risk of blindness to a faster decline in mental function, here are 10 compelling and often surprising reasons to stick to your commitment of quitting smoking.
1. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by smoking
In the elderly years, the rate of mental decline is up to five times faster in smokers than in nonsmokers, according to a study of 9,200 men and women over age 65. Participants took standardized tests used to detect mental impairment when they entered the study and again two years later. Higher rates of mental decline were found in men and women — and in persons with or without a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers reported in the March issue of the journal Neurology. Smoking likely puts into effect a vicious cycle of artery damage, clotting and increased risk of stroke, causing mental decline
2. Smoking increases the chance of autoimmune diseases
Smoking cigarettes raises the risk of developing lupus, but quitting cuts that risk, an analysis of nine studies shows. Systemic lupus erythematosus — known as lupus — is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation, pain, and tissue damage throughout the body. Although some people with lupus have mild symptoms, it can become quite severe. For the analysis, Harvard researchers reviewed studies that examined the relationship between cigarette smoking and lupus. Among current smokers, there was “a small but significant increased risk” for the development of lupus, they report. Former smokers did not have this increased risk, according to the study, which appeared in the March issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
3. Smoking injurious during pregnancy
Smoking increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, a European analysis shows. The researchers compared 745 SIDS cases with more than 2,400 live babies for comparison and concluded that just under half of all deaths were attributable to infants sleeping on their stomachs or sides. Roughly 16% of SIDS deaths were linked to bed sharing, but for unknown reasons, bed sharing was particularly risky when the mother smoked. The risk was very small when mothers did not smoke during pregnancy, the researchers say.
Maternal smoking alone was associated with a doubling in SIDS risk. The risk was 17 times greater, however, for babies who bed shared and had mothers who smoked. The findings are reported in the Jan. 17 issue of The Lancet.
4. Smoking irritates babies
Exposure to tobacco smoke may increase babies’ risk of colic, according to a review of more than 30 studies on the topic. Colic often starts a few weeks after birth, peaking at about 5 to 8 weeks of age. It usually goes away by 4 months of age. Babies’ symptoms include irritability, inconsolable crying, red face, clenched fists, drawn-up legs, and screaming. Colic affects an estimated 5%-28% of babies born in Western countries. Its causes have been attributed to everything from exposure to cow’s milk proteins to feeding difficulties to maternal depression or anxiety Tobacco smoke appears to raise levels of a gut hormone called motilin in the blood and intestines. Motilin increases the contractions of the stomach and intestines, increasing the movement of food through the gut. “Higher-than-average motilin levels are linked to elevated risks of infantile colic,” the researchers write in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.
5. Smoking makes a person impotent
Guys concerned about their performance in the bedroom should stop lighting up, suggests a study that linked smoking to a man’s ability to get an erection. The study of nearly 5,000 Chinese men showed that men who smoked more than a pack a day were 60% more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction, compared with men who never smoked cigarettes.
6. Smoking causes blindness
Smoking Raises Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Smokers are four times more likely to become blind because of age-related macular degeneration than those who have never smoked. But quitting can lower that risk, other research shows. Age-related macular degeneration is a severe and progressive condition that results in loss of central vision. It results in blindness because of the inability to use the part of the retina that allows for ‘straight-ahead’ activities such as reading, sewing, and even driving a vehicle. While all the risk factors are not fully understood, research has pointed to smoking as one major and modifiable cause. More than a quarter of all cases of age-related macular degeneration with blindness or visual impairment are attributable to current or past exposure to smoking.
7. Smoking affects our bones
Recent studies show a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. Smoking is one of many factors—including weight, alcohol consumption, and activity level—that increase your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture. Significant bone loss has been found in older women and men who smoke. Quitting smoking appears to reduce the risk for low bone mass and fractures. However, it may take several years to lower a former smoker’s risk. In addition, smoking from an early age puts women at even higher risk for osteoporosis. Smoking lowers the level of the hormone estrogen in your body, which can cause you to go through menopause earlier, boosting your risk for osteoporosis.
8. Smoking affects lungs and breathing
Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing and scars your lungs. Smoking causes:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease that gets worse over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms
- Emphysema, a condition in which the walls between the air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back. Your lung tissue is destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
- Chronic bronchitis, which causes swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. When this happens, less air flows to and from your lungs.
People with asthma can suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke.
9. Smoking increases infections
You may know about the long-term health risks associated with smoking, but did you realize that smoking also makes you more susceptible to seasonal flu and colds? “People don’t realize how much more frequently smokers get viral, bacterial and other infections,” Fiore says. Tiny hairs called cilia that line the respiratory tract, including the trachea and bronchial tubes, are designed to protect us from infection. “Cilia are constantly waving in a way that grabs bacteria and viruses that get into the trachea and pushes them up and out so we cough them out and swallow them and destroy them with our stomach acids,” Fiore explains.
One of the toxic effects of cigarette smoke is that it paralyzes the cilia, thereby destroying this core protective mechanism. That’s why smokers have so many more infections. Within a month of quitting, however, your cilia start performing their protective role once again.
10. Impact of smoking on physical activities
Many smokers report a diminished ability over time to comfortably do things as simple as climbing a set of stairs or enjoying sports activities they once easily took part in such as volleyball or jogging. According to Schroeder, even young athletes in otherwise top physical condition don’t perform as well if they smoke because over time, smoking causes the lungs and heart to work harder.
Other aspects of smoking
Want to look, feel, and be healthier?
Here are some more reasons to consider.
- My chances of having cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and other diseases will go down.
- I will be less likely to catch colds or the flu, and will be able to recover quicker if I do get sick.
- I will breathe easier and cough less.
- blood pressure will go down.
- skin will look healthier and I will look more youthful.
- teeth and fingernails will not be stained.
Quitting will make you feel better and improve your health. But there are other reasons to quit that you might not have thought about.
Want a better lifestyle?
- I will have more money to spend.
- can spend more time with family, catch up on work, or dive into my favorite hobby.
- I won’t have to worry about when I can smoke next or where I can or can’t smoke.
- food will taste better.
- clothes will smell better.
- car‚ home‚ and kids won’t smell like smoke.
- I will be able to smell food, flowers, and other things better.
Want a better family life?
- I will set a great example for my kids; it takes a lot of strength to quit.
- My friends, family, co-workers, and other loved ones will be proud of me.
- I will protect my friends and family from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
- My children will be healthier.
- I will have more energy to do the things I love with friends and family.
- I will get healthy to make sure I am around to share in my family’s special moments.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to become smoke free. Keep the list in a place where you will see it often, like your car or where you used to keep your cigarettes. When you feel the urge to smoke, take a look at the list to remind yourself why you want to quit.
How to quit smoking?
We all know the health risks of smoking, but that doesn’t make it any easier to kick the habit. Whether you’re an occasional teen smoker or a lifetime pack-a-day smoker, quitting can be really tough. The nicotine in cigarettes offers a quick and reliable way to boost your outlook, relieve stress, and unwind. To successfully stop smoking, you’ll need to not only change your behavior and cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, but also find healthier ways to manage your moods. With the right game plan, though, you can break the addiction and join the millions of people who’ve kicked the habit for good.
Smoking tobacco is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine from cigarettes provides a temporary—and addictive—high. Eliminating that regular fix of nicotine causes your body to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain, many of us smoke as a way of coping with stress, depression, anxiety, or even boredom. Quitting means finding different, healthier ways to cope with those feelings.
Smoking is also ingrained as a daily ritual. It may be an automatic response for you to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, while taking a break at work or school, or on your commute home at the end of a hectic day. Or maybe your friends, family, or colleagues smoke, and it’s become part of the way you relate with them.
To successfully stop smoking, you’ll need to address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it. But it can be done. With the right support and quit plan, any smoker can kick the addiction—even if you’ve tried and failed multiple times before. Here are some ways in which you can quit smoking.
1. Listing the facts that you like about smoking
Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper and write them on one side; on the other side make a list of all the things you dislike, such as how it can interfere with your health, work, family, etc., suggests Daniel Z. Lieberman, M.D., director of the Clinical Psychiatric Research Center at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (Did you know smoking affects your appearance?) Think about the list over time, and make changes. If you are brave enough, get feedback from family and friends about things they don’t like about your use of cigarettes. When the negative side outweighs the positive side, you are ready to quit.
2. Make a list why quitting smoking is difficult
Be thorough, even if the list gets long and discouraging. Here’s the important part: Next to each entry, list one or more options for overcoming that challenge. For instance, one item might be: “Nicotine is an addictive drug.” Your option might be: “Try a nicotine replacement alternative.” Another reason might be: “Smoking helps me deal with stress.” Your option might be: “Take five-minute walks instead.” (Here are some other healthy ways to manage your stress.) The more you anticipate the challenges to quitting, and their solutions, the better your chance of success.
3. Prepare a list of how to substitute the cravings caused by smoking
Suggestions include: take a walk, drink a glass of water, kiss your partner or child, throw the ball for the dog, play a game, wash the car, clean out a cupboard or closet, have sex, chew a piece of gum, wash your face, brush your teeth, take a nap, get a cup of coffee or tea, practice your deep breathing, light a candle. Make copies of the list and keep one with you at all times so when the craving hits, you can whip out the list and quickly do something from it. (When you do quit, here are some things you can do to improve your health.)
4. Switch to decaf until you’ve been cigarette-free for two months
Caffeine makes you feel good and it is obviously a refreshing agent. But it causes difficulty breathing, chest pain, vomiting, confusion, muscle twitching, convulsions, or a sustained irregular or elevated heart rate. You need to switch on to some decaf when you have coffee jitters. It can help you manage your caffeine intake.
5. Re-think about all the difficulties you have overcome in the past
Keep a track of all the difficult situations you have been through in the past and how you had overcome from it. Make that same resolution for this too and try to overcome when you have the cravings.
6. Find a healthy snack food you can carry with you instead of cigarette
In place of smoking cigarettes, try sunflower seeds, sugar-free lollipops, or gum, or carrot or celery sticks if you’re concerned about weight gain. You can also switch your cigarette habit for a nut habit, and eat four nuts in their shell for every cigarette you want to smoke. This way, you’re using your hands and your mouth, getting the same physical and oral sensations you get from smoking.
7. Switch to a cup of herbal tea whenever you usually have a cigarette
The act of brewing the tea and slowing sipping it as it cools will provide the same stress relief as a hit of nicotine. Or carry cinnamon-flavored toothpicks and suck on one whenever a cigarette craving hits.
8. To minimize cigarette cravings, change your routine
Sit in a different chair at breakfast or take a different route to work. If you usually have a drink and cigarette after work, change that to a walk. If you’re used to a smoke with your morning coffee, switch to tea, or stop at Starbucks for a cup of java—the chain is smoke-free.
9. Make an appointment with an acupuncturist to quit smoking
There’s some evidence that auricular acupuncture (i.e., needles in the ears) curbs cigarette cravings quite successfully, says Ather Ali, N.D., a naturopathic physician completing a National Institutes of Health-sponsored postdoctoral research fellowship at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Connecticut. You can even do it yourself by taping “seeds” (small beads) onto the acupuncture points and squeezing them whenever cravings arise.
10. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms that many smokers say is their main reason for not quitting. It increases the rate of quitting by 50 to 70 percent (4)
Nicotine replacement therapy is not a substitute for coping strategies. It deals with the physical addiction to nicotine, but does not deal with the behavioral or psychological addiction to smoking. So some sort of smoking cessation program and strategy is still important.
IMPORTANT: What follows is general medical information, and is not tailored to the needs of a specific individual. Some people may not be able to use nicotine replacement therapy because of allergies or other conditions. You should always consult your physician when making decisions about your health.
How to Decide Which Nicotine Replacement Therapy?
There are three broad categories of nicotine replacement therapy: nicotine that is absorbed through the skin, mouth, and airways. Here are some important points to help you decide:
The nicotine patch is convenient because it provides long term relief from nicotine withdrawal, and you only have to think about it once a day.
The nicotine patch is the most studied type of nicotine replacement therapy, and significantly increases your chances of success by 50 to 70 percent
Nicotine Lozenges and Nicotine Gum
Nicotine lozenges and nicotine gum provide short term relief from nicotine withdrawal symptoms. They also help deal with oral cravings that a nicotine patch cannot.
The most effective smoking cessation combination is a nicotine patch for long term relief, and nicotine lozenges for breakthrough carvings.(5)
The nicotine in lozenges and gum is absorbed through the inner surface of your mouth rather than through your stomach. Food and drinks can affect how the nicotine is absorbed. Therefore you shouldn’t eat or drink for at least 15 minutes before using nicotine gum or lozenges, and you shouldn’t eat or drink while you are using them.
Most people find nicotine lozenges easier to use than nicotine gum. Nicotine gum can stick to dental work.
How do you use nicotine lozenges? Suck on a lozenge until it is fully dissolved, about 20 to 30 minutes. Do not bite or chew it like hard candy, and do not swallow it.
How do you use nicotine gum? Chew the gum slowly until you get a peppery taste or tingle in your mouth. Then hold it inside your cheek (park it) until the taste fades. Then chew it again to get the tingle back, and park it again.
Nicotine Inhalers and Nicotine Nasal Spray
Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays are the most fast acting of all nicotine replacement methods. But because they work so quickly they have a higher risk of becoming addictive.
Nicotine inhalers mimic the use of cigarettes, which can make them even more addictive.
Both nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays require a doctor’s prescription.
How Long Should You Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy?
The US Food and Drug Administration suggests the following. “Users of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products should still use the product for the length of time indicated in the label – for example, 8, 10 or 12 weeks. However, if they feel they need to continue using the product for longer in order to quit, it is safe to do so in most cases.”(6)
The American Cancer Society notes that “The FDA has approved using the patch for a total of 3 to 5 months.”(7)
In other words, follow the instructions, but it is reasonable to use the patch for up to 5 months, if you have the approval of your health care professional.
In my experience, most people relapse when they taper down too quickly from the full strength 21 mg patch to the 14 mg patch.
12. If you relapse, start again
You need to understand that quitting something which is your addiction is very difficult. It might not always succeed in it. You haven’t failed. Some people have to quit as many as eight times before they are successful. You just always need to motivate yourself for a being a better individual.