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Ask any smoker why they haven’t quit yet, and chances are you’ll hear one of these replies: it’s too difficult, they’re so used to smoking that they can’t quit, quitting smoking takes a lot of work and stress, they’ve cut down on the number of cigarettes per day but quitting will be impossible, or they’ve tried before and failed so they’re sure they can’t quit. Two of the biggest myths that are associated with quitting smoking are: the damage is done if a person has smoked or many years and quitting won’t help; or that once a person is hooked to smoking, quitting is impossible. Both of these are untrue.
No matter how long a person has been smoking, and how many cigarettes he has been smoking a day, quitting can have enormous health benefits. The nicotine levels in the bloodstream decrease by over 90 per cent in eight hours; and in a few hours more, carbon monoxide levels come down. In two days, the body starts mending the damaged nerve endings. Over a period of weeks, the craving goes down, blood circulation improves, stress, anger, insomnia and restlessness have gone down, risk of heart attack drops drastically and the lungs perform better. Over the next few years, the person’s risks of stroke and heart attack go down, as does the risk of developing lung cancer. Regardless of how old the smoker is and how long he has been smoking, quitting increases life expectancy1.
In reality, to quit smoking could be easier than you expect. The first step towards kicking the habit is to decide that you are going to do it and that you will stick to your decision. There are those who quit cold turkey, and those who decide to cut down until they stop smoking altogether. To help you focus on quitting, write down all the reasons: whether it is health, saving money or your family. If you’re cutting down before you quit for good, then you could buy fewer cigarettes to reduce the temptation. Set a date by when you wish to quit completely, and get rid of everything that reminds you of the habit – including your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and any other paraphernalia. Speak to those who have quit the habit, and remind yourself that you have achieved more difficult things in the past to keep yourself motivated.
There are several aids that can help you quit smoking. Wearing a nicotine patch in the first few days or weeks can help you handle the cravings that you are worried about. If you are undergoing treatment or have any health-related problems, it would be better to consult a doctor before you use the patch. A new high-tech solution to quitting is the Nicorette app2, which helps not only physically but also psychologically. The app features tips to help you quit, helps you keep track of your progress and even has some games and activities to keep you occupied when the craving hits3.
1 Michelle Castillo. 2012. Quitting smoking, even after 60, may boost longevity - HealthPop - CBS News [online]. [Accessed 10th July 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57450622-10391704/quitting-smoking-even-after-60-may-boost-longevity/)
2The NICORETTE® ACTIVESTOP® app to help you successfully quit smoking | Nicorette. 2012. [online]. [Accessed 10th July 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.nicorette.co.uk/active-stop/iphone-app)
3Nicorette. 2012. [online]. [Accessed 10th July 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.nicorette.co.uk/)