Best reasons to stop smoking

Each year, smoking-related diseases cause the most number of deaths in the Philippines. What is worse is that smokers actually hurt the non-smokers around them by letting them inhale its toxic fumes. A study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute shows that 47 percent of Filipino males and 16 percent of females are smokers: one of the highest worldwide. Moreover, 33 percent of Filipino minors are smokers already by age 14.

Reasons to stop smoking
1. You will live longer. Based on data, smoking 10 sticks or more a day will reduce your life span by an average of four to six years. Those who are exposed to cigarette smoke (called passive smoking) suffer a one year reduction in life span.
2. You’ll be healthier and reduce your chances of getting a heart attack, stroke and cancer. You will also reduce your risk of having emphysema, bronchitis, impotence, fertility problems, cataracts, blindness and wrinkles.
3. People around you, especially young kids, may develop asthma, lung problems and even heart problems because of your smoking.
4. Kids who see their parents smoke or drink are also more likely to smoke and drink themselves. Quit smoking and save your children from smoking-related illnesses.
5. The money you save can be spent on your family.
6. Pregnant women who smoke place two lives at risk because of the possibility of having an abnormal baby.
7. For those who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, quitting can reduce your risk of getting a second attack.
8. For those with cancer, quitting can reduce your risk of getting a second cancer.

What makes smoking addictive?

Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is the substance responsible for the addiction. Once nicotine reaches the brain, it will release chemicals called norepinephrine and dopamine, both of which make us feel good. However, this nicotine high does not last very long. You will soon get a tolerance to nicotine, which means you will have to smoke more cigarettes to get the same pleasurable feeling.

Just like any other addiction, the problem is that once you stop the supply of nicotine, you will feel weak and down. This will stimulate you to get your next puff. Hence, your brain is now addicted to cigarettes. Certain situations can serve as a “trigger” and give you the urge to smoke. For example, it could be seeing someone smoking, a cigarette carton, the smell of an ashtray, after eating a good meal, or feeling sad or happy. It is as if your body is just looking for an excuse to get a cigarette. If you really want to quit smoking, you must identify the situations that trigger your smoking habit, and do your best to avoid them.

How hard will it be to quit?

Some people can quit smoking completely and suffer no side effects. However, for others, it can be a difficult process, and they will need a lot of medical and social support. Three factors are responsible for the difficulty in quitting: 1) how many cigarettes you smoke per day, 2) the people around you who also smoke, and 3) the real reason why you smoke. It could be due to stress, peer pressure or for weight control. Knowing these factors will help you prepare yourself for the quitting process.

Timeline benefits of quitting

To help smokers quit, the American Lung Association has come up with the actual benefits to be gained if you decide to stop smoking. According to the American Lung Association, the health benefits of quitting will begin just 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Your blood pressure and heart rate will decrease, and the oxygen content of your body will increase.
After the first day of quitting, your risk of suffering a heart attack will be reduced.

On the second day, your nerve endings will start to heal and your ability to smell and taste will improve. Between two weeks and three months after quitting, your blood circulation will improve. Your smoker’s cough will be lessened and walking will become easier.

From one to nine months, you will breathe easier and your lungs will continue to get better. In one year, you will have reduced your risk of getting heart disease and a heart attack by 50 percent, when compared to a smoker. Between five and 15 years after stopping, your risk for a stroke will be similar to a non-smoker.

Because of the bad effects of smoking, it will take 10 years of quitting before your risk of getting lung cancer drops. In 10 years, your risk of getting other cancers (mouth, throat, pancreas, kidney and bladder) will also decrease. By the time you reach 15 years of not touching a cigarette, your risk of dying will be the same as a non-smoker.

This just goes to show that the ill effects of smoking are serious and deadly. Have a quit smoking plan when you feel you are ready to face the challenges of quitting.