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Making the Decision
This section provides information
about smoking and helps you understand your own smoking habit. Even if youre
not thinking about quitting right now, it can be helpful to understand the reasons
that you smoke and the effects that smoking has on you and your family.
There are state-of-the-art self-assessment questionnaires on QuitNet that you
can use to better understand your own personal smoking experience.
Health Risks of Smoking
Cigarettes are one of the few consumer
products that aren't regulated.
So, in order to determine the chemical makeup of cigarettes, we rely on the
Federal Trade Commissions studies of tobacco smoke.
More than 40 of the chemicals the FTC found in cigarette smoke cause cancer
in humans. The most dangerous components of tobacco are described below.
Nicotine is a drug produced naturally
in tobacco leaves. Its nicotine that hooks you to cigarettes.
Studies have shown that nicotine can have as much power over your brain as
heroin and cocaine. Nicotine gives your brain a quick sensation of pleasure
and when it starts to wear off (usually within minutes after finishing a smoke)
your brain starts wanting or craving more. Nicotine increases heart rate and
blood pressure, and decreases circulation by constricting blood vessels- this
makes nicotine a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Nicotine
promotes peptic ulcers; releases hormones that affect the central nervous
system; interferes with nerve-muscle communication; and is directly responsible
for a host of other health risks related to sexual functioning, fertility,
fetal development, miscarriages and neonatal deaths, and brain functioning.
Thats why some Quitsters call it the Nicodemon.
Cigarettes produce carbon monoxide,
the same deadly odorless, colorless gas that comes out the tailpipe of your
car or a faulty gas heater. In high enough concentrations it is deadly;
in lower doses it causes shortness of breath and increased heart rate.
Fortunately, the body is able to eliminate most of the carbon monoxide fairly
quickly once you quit smoking. Most people who quit feel more energetic
and less short of breath within just a few days of quitting.
Arsenic, and Other Nasty Stuff:
like Formaldehyde, Benzene,
Radon, and the radioisotope Polonium 210. The Environmental Protection Agency
could arrest you for putting these poisons into the ground, yet tobacco advertising
urges you to breathe them! When you smoke, small amounts of these awful
chemicals are spread around and stored in every tissue and cell in your body
where they can speed up the growth of cancer cells and degenerative
Tar comes from the burning of cigarettes
and is one of the main components of cigarette smoke. In a solid form, tar
is a sticky brown substance that causes yellow-brown stains on fingers, teeth,
clothes, and furniture. If you smoke in your car, try cleaning the inside
windshield sometime. Imagine what all that tar must look like in your
for smokeless tobacco users:
Chewing smokeless tobacco puts many
of the same chemicals and poisons into your body. Thats why people who
chew tobacco for many years are 50 times more likely to get oral cancer, gum
disease and lose their teeth than people who do not chew. The risk of other
cancers, heart disease, and ulcerative colitis is 50-70% higher among chewers.
Cigarette smoke hurts many more
people than just the smoker. Children under the age of one whose parents smoke
are more than 2 times as likely than children of nonsmokers to suffer asthma,
bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory tract illnesses.
A childs lung tissue is especially vulnerable to damage, even when the
concentration of secondhand smoke is relatively low.
This means that smoking in a car, even with the windows open, is still dangerous
to a child. The younger the child, the more vulnerable the lung tissue.
and Sexual Potency:
Cigarette ads try to make smoking
sexy, but the opposite is true. The fertility rates of smoking women are at
least 30% lower than those of non-smokers, and these women are up to 3 times
as likely to miscarry when they do become pregnant. The children of smoking
mothers are at significantly higher risk of premature birth, stillbirth, low
birth weight, birth defects, and the development of childhood allergies and
learning disabilities. The risk of impotence among smoking men is at least
twice that of nonsmokers.
Smoking also reduces sperm density and motility, which can increase the risk
The models in the ads probably dont
smoke because many smokers in their 40s have facial wrinkles similar to those
of nonsmokers in their 60s.,,
Smokers are almost 5 times more likely to develop more, and deeper, wrinkles
than are nonsmokers.
The Big Three Health
Benefits Of Quitting
reduced risk of premature death:
Quitting lowers your risk of dying
early by 50% within 5 years of quitting. After 15 years the risk is
the same as if you had never smoked.
risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis:
Your risk of lung cancer drops by 30%-50% after 10 years of
being smoke-free. The longer you stay quit, the lower the risk.
If youve begun to develop emphysema and or chronic bronchitis, quitting
will essentially stop the progression of the disease and allow your respiratory
system to compensate for damaged tissue.
risk of coronary heart disease:
The potential for smoking-related
heart disease is cut in half one year after quitting. Within 15 years
the risk is the same as that of someone who never smoked.
Almost every smoker both likes and
dislikes certain aspects of smoking. Once you begin to identify the things
you dislike about smoking, and the reasons you want to quit, it gets easier
to set a quit date and develop a plan you can stick to. Listed below
are a few of the most common reasons why QuitNet users have decided to quit.
Take some time to really think about why you want to quit. Make your
own list. Let us know if there are reasons we should add to our list.
Reasons for Quitting
- Freedom from nicotine urges
- Reduced risk of lung cancer,
heart disease, emphysema, stroke, and lots of other
- Fewer colds and missed days
of school for my kids
- Fewer stomach problems
- Being a good role model
for my children
- Fewer sore throats
- No more thick phlegm
- Improved sense of taste
- Sleeping better
- Not needing as much sleep
- Saving money
- No more smokers
- No more smokers cough
- Having more energy
- Not having to worry about
offending or bothering others with smoke
- No more stains on my fingers
- Being able to walk farther
and breathe more easily
- No more complaining from
my friends and family about my smoking
- Being able to exercise harder
- Being able to breathe more
- Longer and healthier life
- Feeling proud
- Feeling good about myself!
- FILL IN YOUR REASONS FOR
Stress, Weight Gain and
Quitting is hard enough by itself.
But when you add things like stress, depression, weight gain, and alcohol to
the equation, it makes quitting even tougher. The good news is that there
are things you can do to overcome each of these barriers and quit successfully!
When youre stressed out,
whats the first thing you do? If you reach for a cigarette,
youre not alone. Most smokers say that cigarettes help them cope with
stress, and that having too much stress makes it hard to quit. Lots of people
said they started smoking more after September 11. Learning other ways of
coping with stress and tension may make quitting easier
or at least
make your life seem a little more manageable.
There is also a strong link between depression and smoking. People
who suffer from depression are more than 3 times as likely to be dependent
on nicotine as people who are not depressed. Smokers who are more
depressed have a harder time quitting too.,
Researchers are not exactly sure why there is such a strong connection between
except that some of the same brain chemicals are probably
If you have ever been diagnosed with depression, even if you are not currently
depressed, you should consider taking Zyban when you decide to quit.
Zyban is a medicine that helps with symptoms of depression and decreases
the urge to smoke for many people.
about weight gain:
Many smokers are concerned about
gaining weight. This concern is a common reason why many smokers dont
even want to think about quitting. Actual weight gain is also a main
reason why many people go back to smoking after they have quit.
There is a special forum on QuitNet where many members help each other with
this issue. The reality is that some weight gain while quitting is
normal, usually about 5 to 8 pounds. However
you would have
to gain at least 75 pounds to in order for it to be as dangerous as smoking.
The keys to controlling your weight as an ex-smoker are no different than
everyone elses: exercise and healthy, low fat meals which include
fruits and vegetables.
As many smokers know, the connection
between cigarettes and alcohol can be quite strong. In fact, many
research studies have shown that cigarettes and alcohol stimulate the same
areas of the brain. Maybe thats why taverns and nightclubs fight
smoking bans so much. Did you know that
You may find that being around other
people who are drinking and smoking makes you want to drink and smoke more.
If you decide to quit, you might find it helpful to cut back on drinking while
you are trying to quit smoking, or at least avoid drinking in smoky environments.
Many QuitNet members attend the online discussions in the QuitNet forums to
support each other.
- per person, smokers drink
about twice as much alcohol as non-smokers?
- people who drink heavily are
more likely to smoke heavily too?
- reducing drinking helps people
- quitting smoking helps with
sobriety among alcoholics?
- relapse to drinking may cause
Alan S. Peters, CTTS-M
differences in smoking
Not surprisingly, research shows that the smoking patterns and quitting experiences
of men and women are often quite different. Women smoke fewer cigarettes
per day, usually smoke lower nicotine cigarettes, and do not inhale as deeply
as men. Men are
more likely to attempt a cold-turkey quit. Nicotine replacement products like
the patch or gum do not appear to reduce craving as effectively for women
as for men, and withdrawal may be more intense for women.
Weight gain is also more of an issue for women. Some interesting studies
have shown that husbands may provide less effective support to women who are
trying to quit than wives give to husbands.
Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a pregnant woman can do
to ensure a healthy baby. Women who smoke are 3x more likely to have
difficulty getting pregnant,
and are more likely to lose their baby to spontaneous abortion and stillbirth.
Smoking has been estimated to cause as many as 140,000 miscarriages each year.
Smoking during pregnancy also causes premature labor and delivery, cleft palate
and cleft lip, low birth weight, and numerous childhood cancers. Smoke
inhaled by young children of mothers who smoke is associated with an increased
risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, pneumonia and other respiratory
illnesses, and ear infections.
Quitting early in the pregnancy provides the greatest benefit to the fetus.
This is the time when the most important developments are taking place
the heart and lungs are forming and the brain is beginning to develop.
However, a woman and her baby will still benefit greatly even if she quits
late in pregnancy.
Table of Contents
Making the Decision | Getting Ready
Hell Week & Beyond |Staying Quit
Ann Wendling, MD, MPH, April 2013
|Large cigars typically contain between 5 and 17 grams of tobacco. It is not unusual for some premium cigars to contain the tobacco equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes.|
When you finally get ready to quit, go for it and NEVER look back. It's tough at first, but you will be glad you did it!
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