Yes smoking is bad for you - it’s something you know already. But just how does one go about quitting and what help is out there to make it easier? Risks associated with smoking:
- bad breath, stained teeth, risk of gum disease & oral cancer
- blocked arteries and veins increasing your risk of heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms.
- coughs, colds, wheezing, asthma, increased risk of bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer
- poor circulation
- increased risk of osteoporosis
- skin that ages quickly
- increased risk of most cancers
- increased risk of infertility, low-birth weight children and cot death.
- more chance your children will have asthma and other health problems
Why smoking is so bad
The reason smoking is so bad for you is because cigarettes contain over 4,000 toxic chemicals, of which around 70 cause cancer. Cancer Research UK says nearly a fifth of all cancer cases in this country are due to smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes can change your DNA. Cigarettes also contain carbon monoxide (the poisonous gas in car fumes). This gets into your bloodstream where oxygen should be, depriving your cells of their vital oxygen supply. The tar in cigarettes sticks in your lungs making the tubes narrower and less efficient. Little wonder smoking is linked to diseases like lung cancer, heart disease, strokes and respiratory illness to name but a few. It is the nicotine in cigarettes that makes them addictive.
How to quit
To quit, ask for a referral to a Stop Smoking Support Service where you’ll be put in touch with an advisor for information, advice and support.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), available from your pharmacy, may help you quit. These come in patches, gum, lozenges, microtabs, inhalators and sprays. They release low levels of nicotine into your bloodstream, without the other poisonous chemicals present in cigarettes. This helps curb cravings as your body is still getting a steady supply of nicotine.
Stop-smoking tablets - Champix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupriopion) - can also help. These are available on prescription and reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Electronic cigarettes (‘e-cigarettes’) produce a vapour that gives a nicotine hit but is thought to be less harmful than tobacco smoke. Clinical trials are underway to assess the effectiveness of e-cigarettes.
Alternative Remedies & Self-help
Many people use alternative methods in their bid to quit smoking - popular ones include acupuncture, hypnotherapy, relaxation techniques and self-help books. There is insufficient evidence to say how well these work.
The other option is going cold-turkey - which means using will-power alone to resist temptation and ignore withdrawal symptoms and cravings.