Smoking does not only harm the smoker, but also people around them. When you’re around someone else who is smoking, the smoke that you breathe in is called secondhand smoke or passive smoking.
People who breathe in second-hand smoke may carry the same risks as smokers as they too inhale the same toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Pregnant women exposed to second-hand smoke are more prone to miscarriage and will pass on harmful chemicals to their babies.
Anyone who starts smoking can become addicted to it. Studies show that smoking is most likely to become a habit during the teen years. The younger you start smoking, the more likely you are to become heavy smoker.
Why is cigarette smoking addictive?
Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. It causes a rush of adrenaline when it is inhaled. Nicotine also triggers an increase in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is commonly associated with the pleasure system of the brain, providing the feelings of enjoyment and motivates us to perform certain activities. Like any other drug, use of tobacco over time can cause a physical and psychological addiction.
How does nicotine affect your body?
Nicotine alters the balance of two chemicals, called dopamine and noradrenaline, in your brain. When nicotine changes the levels of these chemicals, your mood and concentration levels change. Many smokers find this enjoyable.
The changes happen very quickly. When you inhale the nicotine, it immediately travels to your brain, where it produces feelings of pleasure and reduces stress and anxiety. This is why many smokers enjoy the nicotine rush and become dependent on it.
The more you smoke, the more your brain becomes used to the nicotine. This means you have to smoke more to get the same effect.
What happens to your body when you quit smoking?
Quitting smoking may cause short-term problems, especially for those who have smoked heavily for many years. These temporary changes can result in withdrawal symptoms.
Common withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting include:
- Increased appetite
- Chest tightness
- Nicotine cravings
Studies have shown that about half of smokers report experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as anger, anxiety, or depression, when they quit. Some people have reported other symptoms, including dizziness, headaches, and insomnia.
How do I quit smoking?
Quitting is hard but it is not impossible. In fact, many people have succeeded in breaking the habit, and if you want to be one of them, here are 9 tips to help you kick the bad habits.
1. Make a plan
Having a plan can make your quit smoking effort become easier. Create a plan that works for you to help you reach your goal.
You should set a date to quit smoking and stick with it. It’s a great way to mentally prepare to stop smoking. If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you’re going to do, you’ve already lost. You have to be ready when those urges come.
2. Create a list of reasons to quit
Write down all the reasons that have made you decide to quit smoking – for the sake of your health, family, or to save money. Keep it with you keep all day in case you need reminding.
3. Know your triggers
Many people find that certain situations trigger the urge to smoke. For instance, you might want a cigarette when you’re having a hot tea, or you might want to smoke when you’re trying to solve a problem at work.
Identify places where it may be difficult not to smoke and have a plan of what you’ll do in those specific places. For example, you should have an automatic response for a cigarette offer: “No thanks, I will have another drink” or “No, I am trying to quit.”
4. Make a smoke-free environment
Make sure to remove anything that could trigger a desire to smoke from your home or workplace, such as cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, and lighters. If you can’t make your entire home smoke-free, limit your smoking to one room only.
5. Watch your diet
Certain foods can actually help suppress your appetite for cigarettes, while certain drinks can make the cravings even worse. Try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and try to avoid having a lot of coffee or alcoholic drinks as these can trigger the need for a cigarette.
Keep a food diary to keep a note of how different food and drink affects your cravings, and then try to tailor your food and drink around that.
If you have an urge, wait. Do the following things:
- Relax with deep breathing.
- Chew gum or hard candy.
- Keep your hands busy or play a game in your smartphone.
- Drink lots of water. This help flush the nicotine and other toxins out of your system.
7. Get support
Ask your family, friends, and partners to help you during this time. Let them know you are planning to quit. This is especially important if any of these people are smokers. Ask them not to smoke in the house or around you. Quitting with a friend can also be helpful. You can share your feelings and encourage each other.
8. Reward yourself
Reward yourself when you reach your goals — a day, a week, a month of being cigarette-free. Experts agree that having a reward system in place to celebrate your daily victories can enhance your chances of success.
Frequent rewards for quitting smoking also make each day a little happier. Rewards can be big or small, such as watch a movie, enjoy a big meal or buy a new gadget – whatever you can afford. Plan ahead for tomorrow’s rewards so you will have something to look forward to when a craving sets in.
9. Think positive
Positive thinking is a crucial part of any effort to quit smoking. You may have tried quitting before and failed but don’t let that put you off. Always tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. When things get rough, think positive! You can be a healthy and happy non-smoker.
If you fail, get up and try again. Fail doesn’t mean failures or you can never succeed. People usually make two, three or more tries before finally being able to quit. Learn from your mistakes and start again. Someday you will definitely be able to break the habit and lead a healthy life.