What was once a fun activity you used to do while out with your friends has now become a dangerous vice that you struggle to butt out. Approximately 30% to 50% of smokers try to quit smoking each year, according to new studies. Unfortunately, the success rate is as low as 7%! But don’t let this discourage you because, although the task can be challenging, the benefits of quitting smoking are certainly worth it. In this article, we give you all the motivation, methods and tips for finally putting out your last cigarette.
Reasons to Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is the most important step a smoker can take to enhance the quality and length of their life, as the harmful effects of smoking have been well documented. After all, there are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, from butane to formaldehyde; smoking is quite literally poisoning your body and increasing your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and along with a plethora other illnesses.
The good news: quitting smoking can make a world of difference. The moment you quit smoking, your body starts repairing the damage caused and your risk of dying from lung cancer can decrease by up to 50%. Overtime, your risk of heart attacks and stroke will be the same as that of a non-smoker. And that’s only grazing the surface of the health benefits, which we dive into in just a moment. So, regardless of your age or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting can significantly improve your health.
Smoking cigarettes doesn’t just put your own health at risk either. By quitting smoking, you can also protect the health of your family members, coworkers, friends, and even strangers, as they will no longer be breathing in secondhand smoke whenever you’re around. Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to serious health problems, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, as well as premature death.
Additionally, women who are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy have an increased risk of having a baby with a low birth weight, which can result in long-term health problems.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking
As mentioned, the body starts to repair itself as soon as you quit smoking and the benefits begin shortly thereafter. For example, here is a general timeline of what happens in the body overtime:
- 20 minutes: your blood pressure drops to pre-cigarette levels
- 8 hours: your carbon monoxide levels in blood drop to normal
- 24 hours: your risk of heart attack begins to decrease
- 2 weeks to 3 months: your airways in lungs relax, making breathing easier
- 1 to 9 months: you experience less coughing, improved lung function
- 1 year: the risk of coronary heart disease is 50% less than that of a smoker
- 5 years: your risk of a stroke is the same as someone who never smoked
- 10 years: you have a much lower risk of dying from cancer
- 15 years: your risk of coronary heart disease is similar to a non-smoker
- 20 years: your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and voice box drops to that of a non-smoker
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Giving up smoking is one of the most important steps a smoker can take towards a healthier life, regardless of your age or how many years you have been puffing away. While it can be a challenging journey, the benefits are definitely worth it! Not only will quitting smoking improve your overall health, but it’ll also save you an abundance of money, give you better breath and teeth, and finally get rid of that gross cigarette smell that lingers on everything. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of quitting smoking to get you motivated to finally put it out.
- Protect your loved ones, friends and even strangers from secondhand smoke
- Lower the chance of your children becoming sick (children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get respiratory and ear infections)
- Increase life expectancy
- Reduce your risk of diseases, such as lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, reflux, erectile and sexual dysfunction, and kidney disease
- Decrease respiratory and anesthesia complications during surgery
- Reduce the risk of infection or re-admission after an operation
- Feel healthier (you’ll be coughing less, have fewer sore throats, less stuffy noses, increased energy levels, etc.)
- Enhance your sense of taste and smell
- Improve sexual health (smoking causes erectile dysfunction and sexual dysfunction)
- Enhance your physical appearance (smoking causes wrinkles, stained teeth, and dull skin)
- Save thousands of dollars each year (a 1 pack-per-day habit that costs around $20 costs around $7,000/year)
- Improve your sleep (non-smokers are four times more likely to wake up feeling rested than smokers)
- Better breath and oral health
How to Quit Smoking
When it comes to quitting smoking, there’s no “one-size-fits-all”. Quitting smoking is a highly personal and individual journey, and everyone has their own unique smoking patterns, habits, levels of addiction, and preferences. What works for one person may not work for you and vice versa. As such, it’s important to explore the different options available to find the best method for you. Some effective ways to quit smoking include:
The Cold-Turkey Method: Trying to quit smoking cold turkey means quitting without the use of any quitting aids or medications.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): This method involves using products, such as gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays, that contain nicotine but not the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. They are designed to gradually reduce your addiction to nicotine by providing controlled amounts of nicotine that decrease over time. This helps you adjust to lower levels of nicotine before quitting completely and can be helpful for overcoming your nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral Therapy: This treatment involves working with a counselor to develop strategies for quitting smoking. This method focuses on identifying triggers that make you want to smoke and developing a plan to cope with cravings.
Prescription Medication: Medications, such as Chantix and Bupropion (an antidepressant), can be used to help you quit smoking by changes the way the brain responds to nicotine, so that it’s less enjoyable and desirable. These are only available with a prescription and may have side effects.
Hypnosis: This method involves entering a trance-like state and having a trained hypnotherapist makes suggestions to help you eliminate the urge to smoke. You can do in-person sessions or try at-home hypnosis audio tapes.
Acupuncture: This alternative method to quit smoking involves a practitioner stimulating pressure points on the body using thin metal needles to increase brain chemicals that reduce the desire to smoke. Several sessions may be required.
Laser Therapy: Laser therapy is a similar approach to acupuncture, but instead of using needles, it involves using low-level lasers on the skin.
Your personal treatment plan may involve one of these methods or a combination of them. It’s also important to remember that quitting smoking is a process, and it may take several attempts before finding the right method for success.
Tips and Natural Remedies That Can Help You Quit Smoking
When the craving for tobacco hits you, remember that it won’t last forever. Within just a few minutes, the urge will likely fade away, whether or not you give in and light up a cigarette. There are also plenty of tips to help you get through those difficult moments and to increase your changes of successfully quitting.
- Learn new ways to cope with stress: If you typically light up when you’re stressed out, it’s important to find another way to deal with difficult times such as going for a walk, doing some deep breathing, meditating, journaling, reading a book or listening to music
- Avoid your triggers: Identify your triggers and create a plan to manage them without turning to tobacco. For example, if you used to smoke while on the phone, keep a pen and paper nearby so you can doodle and stay busy.
- Try the delay: If you find yourself struggling with a strong urge to use tobacco, challenge yourself to wait an additional 10 minutes before giving in. During this time, find an activity that will distract you and take your mind off of the craving.
- Chew on something: To resist a craving for tobacco, occupy your mouth with something else. Chew on some sugar-free gum or hard candy, crunch on some ice or munch on raw vegetables, nuts, or sunflower seeds.
- Never have just one: Never fall into the temptation of having just one. It never ends with just one.
There’s no denying that quitting smoking is challenging but the proven benefits that follow are certainly worth it. But remember: each time you successfully resist a tobacco craving, you’re one step closer to breaking free from the addiction for good. So, whether you choose to go cold turkey, try therapy or medication, or even give hypnosis or laser therapy a shot, the most important thing is to find what works best for you and stick with it. And when the going gets tough, just remember: you’ve got this, and a world of health advantages are coming your way.