Okay, I really am not going to write all 1,000 reasons why I think you should quit smoking. I think there are way more than 1,000 reasons to quit but probably do not have enough time or space to write them all.
Everyone knows why smoking is bad for you. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States–but 43.8 million Americans are still cigarette smokers. That’s almost 1 in every 5 adults in the U.S.–a number that, in my opinion, is way too high!
Today is The Great American Smokeout, a day sponsored by the American Cancer Society that aims to empower smokers to kick the habit for good. Whether you’re actively trying to quit or are thinking about quitting, today is a great day to make a plan to quit or a great day to actually quit.
The Toll of Addiction
Research shows that most people start smoking when they are a teenager. Many may think they look cool (attention teenagers–you don’t look cool when you smoke FYI), some are bored and others are just curious. Teens with friends or parents who smoke are also more likely to smoke compared to those who don’t–another great reason for parents to quit. Once a person begins smoking and becomes addicted it can be extremely difficult to quit. Nicotine is an addictive drug–no different than drugs like heroin and cocaine.
So why is nicotine so addictive?
- Nicotine creates a feeling of pleasure, it makes the body crave more. Nicotine goes directly to the reward center in the brain and increases the amount of dopamine in the brain creating a feeling of pleasure and happiness.
- Nicotine reaches the brain extremely quickly and starts to wear off quickly too which results in cravings.
- Because nicotine wears off quickly a smoker will crave the nicotine and the feelings of euphoria associated with the nicotine until they smoke again. This process repeats itself over and over and a person becomes addicted to cigarettes. A smoker might develop withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, trouble sleeping and headaches.
Is smoking really that bad?
- In short, yes! Chemicals found in tobacco smoke include methanol, acetylene, ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene and cyanide. Sound appetizing?
- Smoking can cause cancer, emphysema, heart disease and a host of other conditions.
It’s no secret that smoking is flat out horrible for your health. It’s also horrible for the environment and horrible for those around you. Those facts are nothing new to a smoker or a non-smoker and many of those facts are why smokers want to quit. According to the CDC, a staggeringÂ 69% of smokers actuallyÂ want to quit smoking but are unable to because of their addiction.
So whether you’ve tried quitting before and have been unsuccessful or are thinking about quitting, today is the perfect day to come up with your plan for quitting.
Very few people are able to quit smoking cold turkey due to the powerful nicotine addiction. Here are some tips to help you be successful.
- Set a quit date. Pick a day you are going to quit smoking and stick with it. Having an actual date in place holds you accountable.
- Tell family, friends and co-workers that you are quitting. They can be a great support system to help you get through cravings and can also help with accountability.
- Anticipate the challenges that come with quitting. Prepare yourself as much as you can for the inevitable nicotine cravings. Arm yourself with natural smoking cessation aids and products.
- Remove cigarettes and all other tobacco products from your car, house and work. Having all of your cigarettes, lighters, and matches gone is the best way to go–no emergency pack allowed! You can also shampoo your car and carpet and clean anything that smells like smoke (once your sense of smell comes back).
- Talk to your physician about getting help to quit. In addition to the common nicotine patch and lozenges there are many natural options you can try too!
Nicotine Relief SupremeÂ is one great option from Gaia Herbs. This formula is made of natural herbs and can help support quitting. It contains Lobelia which can help reduce anxiety that occurs with smoking withdrawal symptoms.
Smoke Take CareÂ from New Chapter is another natural option. This product also contains herbs and has antioxidants that can help promote cell protection.
The benefits of quitting smoking are almost instantaneous. Check out this graphic from the American Cancer Society on the benefits of quitting.
Â After 15 years of not smoking your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s. Pretty incredible!
Since I titled this post “1000 Reasons You Should Quit Smoking” I figure I better at least list a few of the many, many reasons to quit.
- Smoking harms virtually every organ of the body.
- Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease.
- Smoking can increase your risk of the following
- Heart disease
- Aortic aneurysm
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic bronchitis
- Hip fractures
- Smokers have a higher risk of developing pneumonia and other lung/airway infections
- Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, cancer of the mouth, nose, sinuses, lip, voice box, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, ovary, cervix, stomach, colon, rectum and acute myeloid leukemia
- Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as non-smokers
- Smoking increases the risk for peripheral vascular disease
- Smoking increases the risk of macular degeneration which can lead to blindness
- Smoking makes your hair, teeth and fingernails yellow (and smell bad)
- The average male loses 13.2 years of life if he smokes
- The average female loses 14.5 years of life if she smokes
- Women who smoke (and are on birth control) have an even higher risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots
- Women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to miscarry or have a baby with a low birth weight–dangerous for the baby
- Inhaling secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmoking adults
- Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of heart disease by 25-30% in those inhaling it
- Children exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of SIDS, ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis and severe asthma
- Cigarettes create a tremendous amount of garbage and litter
Save Your Money, Save Your Life
Enough reasons? Let me throw one more at you. I am not a smoker but according to www.theawl.com, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in Wisconsin is $8.11 (the average cost in New York is $14.50). Let’s say a person smokes a pack a day at $8.11 per pack–that’s $2,960.15 that could be saved by NOT smoking! That’s a trip to Disney World with your kids, a trip to Hawaii with your significant other, a new bedroom set, or a good chunk of change to add to your savings account.
So make today, November 21, 2013 the day YOU decide to kick the habit for good. Your body and your wallet will thank you!
If you’ve been successful at quitting, recently or in the past please share your tips below!
Laura – I love your tips and key points about why it is so important to quit smoking. I was able to successfully quit 4 years ago with the help of nicotine gum. Thankfully there are a lot of new resources out there now, like the e-cigarette, to help people quit in a way that works best for them. Quitting is not easy but I can tell you that it gets easier over time.
My only other tip for avoiding temptation in moments of craving is to remember WHY you quit. Was it for health? Money? Kids? If it was reason enough to quit… keep telling yourself these reasons to prevent you from going back down that unhealthy road. You can do it!
Thanks, Mara. You offer some great tips. Congratulations on being smoke free!
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