When someone picks up a cigarette for the first time, it’s often a result of curiosity or succumbing to peer pressure. If people realize the effects that smoking can cause to their health, they will think twice before starting. There’s no getting away from the fact that smoking cigarettes is injurious to health and the sooner you realize this, the better health you will have.
Did you know?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that India comprises 12% of the smokers in the world. An estimate by the organization also reported that 70% the Indian male population smokes, while the number for women is at 14%. Each year, more than 10 million people in India die due to complications of smoking or tobacco use, which is why it is essential to understand its harmful nature and the need to quit.
Before delving into the ways to quit smoking, let’s first understand how smoking affects the body and its various functions.
- Effects of smoking on body: Smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer cases, while it also increases the risk of respiratory and heart diseases.
- Effects on the cardiovascular system:It greatly damages the cardiovascular system and leads to the constriction of blood vessels. As a result, the blood flow throughout the body gets restricted, which leads to high blood pressure. The continual damage to the blood vessels can cause peripheral arterial disease, weakening of the vessel walls, risk of blood clots etc.
- Effects on the respiratory system: Smoking means exposing your lungs to over 7,000 harmful chemicals, out of which 69 are closely linked with lung cancer. Smoking can cause emphysema, which is the slow destruction of the air sacs in the lungs. It can also lead to chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Effects on reproductive health: It can cause reproductive issues in both men and women. The issues of infertility can be both, long-term and short-term in nature. Smoking also increases the chances of erectile dysfunction in men, and can also have effects on the sperm count and motility. It’s particularly damaging for pregnant women, as tobacco smoke increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death.
- Effects on skin and hair: A number of studies have shown that smoking can change the structure of the skin and lead to skin cancer. Smoking can also cause fungal infections. Furthermore, it can lead to balding and greying of hair.
- Effects on mood: Smoking alters the mood of the person. Once it reaches the brain, it helps people feel more energized. However, once the effects wear off, people feel irritable. It is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis.
Smoking is as addictive as other drugs, which makes it challenging for people to quit or change their ways. They come up with every possible reason to avoid quitting. Despite witnessing others struggle with this habit, many people choose to give in. However, it is absolutely possible to refrain from smoking; even entirely quit, if determined to do so.
Following are a few methods no or low-cost strategies to try if you want to go clean :-
- Plan a new morning ritual: If smoking is a part of how you start your day, replace it with new positive habits. Make a healthy breakfast from scratch or start going for a walk every morning. Ideally,this activity should last an hour or more and keep your mind distracted.
- Plan activities: Schedule activities that you enjoy (sans smoking) to stay occupied and avoid feelings of boredom or frustration. Step out to meet friends, cook, play an instrument, listen to music or read books. This will keep you occupied.
- Lean on others for support: Ask friends and family to help motivate you. Reach out to support groups available both, online and in person. Don't be afraid to contact them as people who have undergone similar experiences can be of great help. Build a network of cheerleaders who will help you stay on track.
- Keep your mouth busy: Try chewing sugar free gum or hard candy whenever you feel like smoking. Keep fruits or other healthy snacks with you at all times, in order to munch on them and curb your cravings to smoke.
- Create a plan to manage triggers: Plan your day in a way where you don’t have the chance to face any trigger situations. If the trigger is unavoidable, drink a glass of water or juice and sip on coffee. Divert your mind from any thought related to smoking.
- Counseling: A method that many people find extremely helpful in quitting smoking is taking counseling or therapy sessions. Doctors and other medical professionals can meet with you to discuss your options and help you in your journey. Therapists can also come up with a plan, recognize your triggers and help you in resisting the urge to smoke.
It is advisable to take charge of your life right away, without waiting for the right time. Reach out to people and seek help. There is no shame in asking for guidance. Start taking tiny steps towards bringing about this positive change. It is essential to stay focused and consistent.Do whatever it takes; even if it means having to ask people to not smoke around you. Gradually, a change is sure to come and you will be thanking yourself, years from now! It is always good to make healthier life choices and inspire others to do the same.
It’s never too late for you to adopt a smoke-free life. Quit smoking for a better future!
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