Reasons to stop smoking:
Smoking damages the arteries to the heart and brain, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Cigarette smoking harms the body by raising cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
One cigarette can impair circulation for up to 45 minutes by constricting the small blood vessels. (The narrow vessels in the feet are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects)
Smokers who quit or even just cut down on cigarettes can begin to reap the health benefits within a few months, new study findings suggest.
In the study, individuals who gradually quit smoking saw improvements in risk factors for heart disease, including lower cholesterol and carbon monoxide levels. The findings may encourage some of the millions of smokers worldwide to cut back on tobacco, which will cause an estimated 10 million deaths a year by 2030.
I think one of the main reasons it’s so hard to quit smoking is because all the benefits of quitting and all the dangers of continuing seem very far away. Well, here’s a little timeline about some of the more immediate effects of quitting smoking and how that will affect your body RIGHT NOW.
In 20 minutes, your blood pressure will drop back down to normal.
In 8 hours, the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your blood stream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal.
In 48 hours, your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
In 72 hours, your bronchial tubes will relax, and your energy levels will increase.
In 2 weeks, your circulation will increase, and it will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks.
In three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
In 1 year, your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.
In 5 years, your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
In 10 years, your risk of lung cancer will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
In 15 years, your risk of heart attack will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
How to Stop:
Don’t carry a lighter, matches or cigarettes. Keep all of these smoking reminders out of sight.
Don’t focus on what you are missing. Think about the healthier way of life you are gaining.
When you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds and release it slowly. Repeat this several times until the urge to smoke is gone.
Keep your hands busy. Doodle, play with a pencil or straw, or write in a journal
Change activities that were connected to smoking. Take a walk or read a book instead of taking a cigarette break.
When you can, avoid places, people and situations associated with smoking. Hang out with non-smokers or go to places that don’t allow smoking, such as the movies, museums, shops or libraries.
Don’t substitute food or sugar-based products for cigarettes. Eat low-calorie, healthful foods (such as carrot or celery sticks, sugar-free hard candies) or chew gum when the urge to smoke strikes so you can avoid weight gain.
Drink plenty of fluids, but limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They can trigger urges to smoke.
Exercise. Exercising will help you relax.
Get support for quitting. Tell others about your milestones with pride.
Work with your doctor to develop a plan using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine-replacement aids.
There’s no one way to quit smoking that works for everyone. To quit, you must be ready both emotionally and mentally. You must also want to quit smoking for yourself, and not to please your friends or family. It helps to plan ahead. This guide may help get your started.
The first thing to do is to pick a date to stop smoking and then stick to it.
Next, write down your reasons for quitting. Read over the list every day, before and after you quit.
Write down when you smoke, why you smoke and what you are doing when you smoke. You will learn what triggers you to smoke.
Stop smoking in certain situations (such as during your work break or after dinner) before actually quitting.
Make a list of activities you can do instead of smoking. Be ready to do something else when you want to smoke.
Ask your doctor about using nicotine gum, lozenge, patches. Some people find these aids helpful.
Join a smoking cessation support group or program. Call your local chapter of the American Lung Association.
How Will I Feel When I Quit?
You may crave cigarettes, be irritable, feel very hungry, cough often, get headaches or have difficulty concentrating. These symptoms of withdrawal occur because your body is used to nicotine, the active addicting agent within cigarettes.
When withdrawal symptoms occur within the first two weeks after quitting, stay in control. Think about your reasons for quitting. Remind yourself that these are signs that your body is healing and getting used to being without cigarettes.
The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when you first quit but will usually go away within 10 to 14 days. Remember that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat than the major diseases that smoking can cause.
You may still have the desire to smoke, since there are many strong associations with smoking. People may associate smoking with specific situations, with a variety of emotions or with certain people in their lives. The best way to overcome these associations is to experience them without smoking. If you relapse do not lose hope. Seventy-five percent of those who quit smoke again. Most smokers quit three times before they are successful. If you relapse, don’t give up! Plan ahead and think about what you will do next time you get the urge to smoke.
The good news is your risk of heart disease is cut in half after quitting tobacco for one year. After 15 smoke free years, your risk is similar to that of a person who has never smoked.
American Heart Association
American Cancer Society