In my twenties I smoked 40-50 cigarettes a day. I gave it up and haven’t smoked for 40 years. I’m sure my health is much better for it. My bank balance certainly is. Many people want to give up smoking, but don’t know how to succeed.
Dr Charlie Kenward, a GP from Bristol says:
“Stopping smoking remains the single biggest thing people can do to improve their overall health,” . “It will improve heart and lung health as well as reducing the chances of developing cancer and even improve wound healing after surgery. There has never been a better time to quit.”
When I look back at all my attempts to give up, I can see that I didn’t have everything in place to make it work. Once I had that, it became much easier.
Maybe you need one last cigarette, as part of this process. When you smoke your last cigarette, concentrate on everything you hate about it. Commit the negative feelings and thoughts to your memory. Remind yourself of how you felt when you had your first cigarette. You probably didn’t like it. Visit those memories often in the following weeks or even months.
Take time to think about the fact that a lot of the pleasant feelings of smoking are because you are switching off the nicotine withdrawal. Terry Martin smoked for 26 years and is devoted to helping others find and maintain freedom from nicotine addiction. Take the time to read her powerful article in which she says:
“Smoking made the empty, anxious, tense feeling of nicotine withdrawal go away for a short while.”
Before you smoke your last cigarette make a list of everything you hate about smoking, and everything you’ll gain by giving up. Put copies all round your house and suitable places at work. List the smell, the health risks, the expense. Don’t just list them in generalities but list them in detail. Not just that you’ll save money, but exactly how much extra money you will have each week, each month, each year. Write down what you’ll do with it – finally have a saving pot, spend it on an amazing holiday, buy a new car. What will you do with the money and when will you be able to do it?
Before you smoke your last cigarette, create a vibrant image in your mind of how you will be when you stop smoking. Healthier, happier, more in control of your own life. Check out this blog post about what happens when you give up smoking. This health information shows how quickly you can benefit from giving up smoking. Your heart attack risk begins to drop 2-12 weeks after stopping smoking. Your lung function begins to improve too. Remind yourself that if you go on smoking, your face will look older than your years, even if it doesn’t already.
The US National Cancer Institute says:
“a study that followed a large group of people age 70 and older found that even smokers who quit smoking in their 60s had a lower risk of mortality during follow-up than smokers who continued smoking.”
Before you smoke your last cigarette, learn about e-cigarettes and see how they are not a safe option, no matter how tantalising they seem. Learn also that low tar cigarettes aren’t safe. There are no safe cigarettes.
Before you smoke your last cigarette, start to think about how you can change the routines associated with smoking, just for a while, until you’ve got this ‘giving-up-smoking’ thing under your belt. Avoid situations, if possible, where you know you will really want a cigarette.
Before that last cigarette, work out what help you are going to need. Research suggests that you are 4 times as likely to give up if you use formal support (such as NHS smokers’ clinics) as if you go it alone. Try and enlist the support of a friend or colleague who will distract and support you, not nag you.
Take some time before that last cigarette to read Allen Carr’s “Easy Way To Stop Smoking”. Lots of ex-smokers are full of praise for this book.
Before that last cigarette, learn about the slow death that cigarette smoking can cause. Smokers often imagine that if they go on smoking they will one day just drop dead. But many smokers die slow deaths from cancer or become severely debilitated because of a stroke or a heart attack.
Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses. Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. Some may be fatal, and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health. It certainly does not automatically mean a quick death.
According to dosomething.org:
- About 8.6 million people in the US have at least 1 serious illness that’s caused by smoking.
- Smoking is the cause of 1 in 5 deaths in the US annually. And tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death.
- About 1.69 billion pounds of butts end up as toxic trash each year, making cigarettes the most littered item on Earth.
The Australian Centre for Precision Health based at the University of South Australia led a study, which links heavier smoking (20 or more cigarettes a day) with 28 separate health conditions, revealing a 17-fold increase in emphysema, 8-fold increase in atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and a 6.5-fold higher incidence of lung cancer.
Researchers in Finland found a link between smoking and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a type of bleeding stroke, in a study of more than 16,000 pairs of twins over 42 years. The study found that bleeding in the brain can be explained to a greater degree by environmental risk factors, such as smoking, than by genetic influence.
Smoking is not just related to physical ill health. Researchers from the Academy of Finland found that smoking can affect mental health too.
“Smoking at least ten cigarettes a day is linked to a higher risk of psychoses compared to non-smoking young people. The risk is also raised if the smoking starts before the age of 13.”
Smoking can harm your unborn baby if you’re a woman and can cause erectile dysfunction if you are a man according to the US National Cancer Institute:
“Smoking makes it harder for a woman to get pregnant. A pregnant smoker is at higher risk of miscarriage, having an ectopic pregnancy, having her baby born too early and with an abnormally low birth weight, and having her baby born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. A woman who smokes during or after pregnancy increases her infant’s risk of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Men who smoke are at greater risk of erectile dysfunction.”
Before you smoke that last cigarette, start to eat more vegetables and fruit. Yes, that’s right. University of Buffalo public health researchers found that eating more fruits and vegetables may help you quit smoking and stay tobacco-free for longer.
One of the very best things you can do for yourself and for those who love you is to give up smoking. But remember you need to be prepared. Don’t use this preparation time as an excuse to go on smoking. It doesn’t have to take months. Make a plan, give yourself a date and then smoke that last cigarette.
And remember you will need to persist. You are breaking a long-standing habit and a long-standing dependency. The American Heart Association says:
“Research has shown that what you’ve done before is a strong indicator of what you’ll do next. Ths means established habits are hard to break. But the good news is, if you keep at it, your new behaviors will turn into habits, too.