The 8th March 2017 was National No Smoking Day, you may have just missed it, but that doesn’t mean that right now isn’t a good time to quit.
So Why Should I Stop?
We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but did you know that more than 50% of smokers will eventually die because of their smoking addiction?
Smoking regularly increases the risk of developing several life-threatening diseases. It is known to increase the risk of at least fourteen different cancers, including lung cancer, mouth cancer, cancer of the oesophagus (windpipe), larynx (voice box) and pharynx. Smoking can also increase your risk of developing stomach cancer, bowel cancer, and cancer of the pancreas, bladder, kidney, and liver. For women, it also increases the risks of cervical cancer and ovarian cancer and may enhance the risk of some types of breast cancer. Smoking even increases the risks of some types of leukaemia.
Of those people who contract cancer of the upper respiratory tract, 60% of these cancers are directly linked to smoking. As if the increase in the risk of developing cancer wasn’t enough, smoking also increases your risk of developing heart disease, including coronary heart disease and strokes.
Even those who are only occasional or light smokers are at a higher risk of these diseases. Studies have shown that those who smoke four or fewer cigarettes a day are still 50% more likely to suffer premature death than non-smokers.
Never Too Late to Quit Your Smoking Addiction
Cutting down on what you smoke can help a little, but stopping altogether is still the best choice. If you are finding it difficult to stop completely, then gradually cutting down may help you to stop in the future, but the full benefits will not be felt until you are smoke-free.
So what benefits will you gain from stopping? Well, you can start to benefit in as little as 20 minutes, and your lungs will be working better after just three days. Medical professionals have given the following timeline for health improvements after stopping smoking:
After 20 minutes: Your pulse rate will drop to a normal level.
After 8 hours: The levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your blood will have dropped by half, and the levels of oxygen in your blood will become normal.
After 48 hours: There will be no carbon monoxide left in your blood. Your lungs will start to clear themselves of mucus and other residues of smoking (you might find you develop a cough at this stage as your lungs work to clean themselves). All the nicotine has now left your body. Your sense of smell and taste will start to improve.
After 72 hours: You will find it easier to breathe. The tubes in your lungs start to relax again, and your energy levels will increase.
After 2-12 weeks: Your circulation will improve.
After 3-9 months: Your lung function will increase by up to 10%.
After 1 year: Your risk of heart disease will be 50% of that of someone still smoking.
After 10 years: Your risk of lung cancer will drop to 50% of that of someone still smoking.
After 15 years: Your risk of suffering a heart attack will be the same as that of someone who has never smoked.
So, even a few hours after you stop, you will be starting to feel the benefits, and there are other long-term benefits too. As well as being able to breathe more easily, living longer and having more energy, contrary to what most smokers believe, stopping will lower your stress levels. Stopping will also improve your sense of taste and smell, your skin will age more slowly, you will have much more pleasant breath and whiter teeth. Perhaps most importantly, you will no longer be harming your family or pets due to passive smoking.
But What About the Cravings?
Cutting down gradually will certainly help to reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal, and there are many products available to help you to overcome both the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. From nicotine replacement patches, lozenges, and gum, to the much newer e-cigs and vaping machines. Or if you would rather not put alternative chemicals into your body, you could opt for hypnosis, cognitive behavioural therapy, or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to help you change your habits. For those really struggling, there are even prescription drugs available to help you stop.
In terms of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, the first few days are the worst, and most people find these only last for two weeks. So if you can last the first two weeks, then it will get easier after that.
It is very much the case that people who have support to help them stop are far more successful at stopping smoking permanently. Give us a call at Addiction Helper; we can provide you with all the information and support to help you choose the right treatments to help you give up smoking. For good.