Step 1: Are You Ready To Quit?
Most smokers say they want to quit. So how do you move from wanting to quit to actually quitting? First, you must decide the motivation behind your reasons for wanting to quit. You cannot quit because someone else wants you to – you have to do it for yourself. Think of the reasons why you would be better off without a cigarette in your hand.
Step 1: Are You Ready To Quit?
Each year, exposure to second-hand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in U.S. infants and children younger than 18 months of age. These infections result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations every year. Chronic cough, wheezing, and phlegm are more frequent in children whose parents smoke. Children exposed to second-hand smoke at home are more likely to have middle-ear disease and reduced lung function. Second-hand smoke increases the number of asthma attacks and the severity of asthma in children who already have the disease. Even worse, second-hand smoke can cause healthy children to develop asthma. A recent study found that infants are three times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) if their mothers smoke during and after pregnancy. Infants are twice as likely to die from SIDS if their mothers stop smoking during pregnancy and then resume smoking following birth.
For a Few Days:
You may notice slight dizziness or light-headedness, a cough, or a runny nose. These symptoms are the first to pass.
For a Week or Two After Quitting:
This is when you can expect physical withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness or trouble sleeping, increased phlegm, increased hunger, or digestive changes.
For a Month or Two After Quitting:
Psychological cravings or urges to smoke usually last for a month or more, until the habit of smoking starts to fade. You will develop your own defenses against these urges.
You will probably also feel increased stress and emotional pressure. Feelings of irritability and trouble concentrating are common. But if you are prepared, they won’t overwhelm you. And remember, there are plenty of positive emotions associated with quitting! It’s not an easy task, and you should be proud of yourself for having the courage to take it on.
Knowing all the facts will help you make an informed decision about whether or not you’re ready to quit. So we’ve filled the following section with facts about the effects of smoking on your health and the health of those around you. You’re probably familiar with a lot of the facts that are presented here, but you may find something new that will help motivate you to quit — for good. Remember, you have to want to quit!
Diseases Caused By Tobacco
- Gum Disease
- Tooth Loss
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Cancers Caused By Tobacco
- Pancreas Breast
You might be surprised — cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemical substances, many of which are poisonous and are known to cause cancer in humans. Tobacco companies don’t have to list the ingredients of their cigarettes. But if they did, it might look like this:
- Acetic Acid
- Carbon Monoxide
- Hydrogen Cyanide
- Stearic Acid
Nicotine: This is a powerful poison. When you inhale nicotine in cigarette smoke, it narrows your blood vessels and puts a strain on your whole system. Nicotine is also highly addictive.
Tar: This is what is left after you burn a cigarette. It gets through even the best filters and coats your lungs with soot, which contains the most harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. Tar is the major cause of lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers.
Carbon Monoxide: This is the same gas that comes out of your car’s exhaust pipe. When your blood is loaded with carbon monoxide, it cannot carry enough oxygen to the organs that need it. It is a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
If you are like most smokers, you know all of the reasons for quitting. You’ve heard them over and over, you probably even agree that they all make sense. However, for every reason to quit you have most likely justified a reason for not quitting — reasons like these:
“I don’t need to quit — I’ll just switch to light cigarettes, or smoke less.”
This may seem like a good idea. Unfortunately, many people change the way they smoke when they move to a lighter cigarette. For instance, they may take bigger or more frequent puffs to get the amount of nicotine they need. These changes often affect the amount of tar they get from a cigarette and cancel out the benefit of smoking the lighter cigarette.
“I feel sick when I don’t smoke.”
You aren’t sick. These physical withdrawal symptoms you feel during the healing process will pass within a week or two (more about withdrawal symptoms will follow). They can be very uncomfortable, but the worst of them usually pass within a couple of days and they certainly won’t kill you.
“If I quit now it will probably be too late.”
It’s never too late! Your body has a great capacity to fix itself. Within a year, your risk of smoking related heart disease will be cut in half. There is increasing evidence that no matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting reduces your risk of developing coronary heart disease, getting lung cancer, or having a stroke.
“If I quit I will gain weight — so I will just be trading one health problem for another.”
People who quit gain less than 10 pounds on average, if they gain at all. However, being a few pounds heavier for a while has nowhere near the risk to your health as continuing smoking! You will find some suggestions for controlling your weight later.
“Quitting is just too hard.”
Quitting is hard. However, 40 million Americans have done it, including 13 million heavy smokers! You can too!
“I have tried to quit, and could not.”
Some people quit on their first try, but many do not. Most ex-smokers had to try more than once to quit.
Why Do You Smoke?
Can you agree with any of these statements:
- I smoke out of habit, or to have something to do with my hands.
- I smoke when I am sad, depressed, angry,bored, or frustrated.
- I smoke when I am happy, or feel like celebrating.
- I like the taste.
- Smoking calms me down.
- Smoking wakes me up, helps me concentrate.
- Smoking helps me control my weight.
- Smoking helps me organize my day.
- Smoking is an important part of my life.
Answer this question:
- I smoke because......
Most people are troubled by the effect smoking has on their health or the health of those they love.
Do any of these that apply to you:
- I am worried about the increased risk of cancer.
- I am worried about the increased risk of lung problems like emphysema.
- I am worried about the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- I feel that smoking is interfering with my level of fitness.
- I am worried that secondhand smoke is hurting the people I love.
- I feel that smoking is increasing the number of colds and respiratory infections I have.
Do any of these that apply to you:
- Cigarettes are expensive.
- Most people I know do not smoke: I feel out of place when I light up.
- Family members are worried by my smoking.
- I want to be a good role model for my children.
- I do not like the feeling that cigarettes are controlling my life.
- I do not want those that I love to breathe secondhand smoke or copy my habit.
- Wanting frequent smoke breaks is interfering with my work.