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Smoking is injurious to health. It's a fact. But still more than 1.3 billion people in the world smoke. That's an astounding number of regular tobacco users. Many of the smokers aspire to quit smoking every day. But most of them fail to go through with it and end up smoking tobacco back in no time.

 

—File Photo

In the USA, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat, lung, esophagus, pancreas, cervix, kidney, stomach, colon, rectum, and liver and several other types of cancers. It's proven that tobacco contains numerous chemicals and it's a risk factor for many diseases other than cancers, which include heart diseases, strokes, chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis and other health problems.

 

 

WHO estimates tell us:

-Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
-Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year.
-More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Smoking is deadly, so quitting seems the only logical thing to do but the fact is that most people know the harmful effects of tobacco chemicals but still can't help their addiction. Quitting smoking is not a single event that happens on one day; it is a journey.

To quit smoking, you not only need to alter your behavior and cope with the withdrawal symptoms experienced from cutting out nicotine, but you also need to find other ways to manage your moods. So to give up the smoking habit, a strict step by step plan is crucial. Here is a plan that can help you quit smoking:

>> Make The Decision To Quit & Prepare For Quit Day

First, you've to decide to stop smoking and when you are ready, set a quit date. Pick a day that is not too far in the future (so that you don't change your mind), but which gives you enough time to prepare. You can either go cold turkey and quit abruptly or continue smoking right up until your quit date and then stop. You can also quit gradually, or reduce your cigarette intake slowly until your quit date and then stop. The choice is yours.

 

 

To help you prepare for your quit date, American Cancer Society recommends that :

Tell your friends, family, and co-workers about your quit date.
Throw away all cigarettes and ashtrays.
Decide whether you are going to go “cold turkey” or use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medicines.
Ask friends and family who smoke to not smoke around you.
If you plan to attend a stop-smoking group, sign up now.
Stock up on oral substitutes, such as hard candy, sugarless gum, carrot sticks, coffee stirrers, straws, and toothpicks.
Set up a support system, such as a family member that has successfully quit and is happy to help you.
If you have tried to quit before, think about what worked and what did not.
Daily activities – such as getting up in the morning, finishing a meal, and taking a coffee break – can often trigger your urge to smoke a cigarette. But breaking the association between the trigger and smoking is a good way to help you to fight the urge to smoke.

On your quit day, it's recommended that you :

Don't smoke at all.
Stay busy and keep your brain occupied.
Begin the use of your NRT if you have chosen to use one.
Attend a stop-smoking group or follow a self-help plan.
Drink more water and juice.
Drink less or no alcohol.
Avoid individuals who are smoking.
Avoid situations wherein you have a strong urge to smoke.
You will almost certainly feel the urge to smoke many times during your quit day, but it will pass.

 

 

The following actions may help you to battle the urge to smoke:

Delay until the craving passes. The urge to smoke often comes and goes within 3 to 5 minutes.
Deep breaths help a lot. Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of three and exhale through your mouth for a count of three. Visualize your lungs filling with fresh air.
Drink water sip by sip to beat the craving.
Do something else to distract yourself. Perhaps go for a walk.

>> Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRTs) To Conquer Your Addiction

Most people try to give up smoking abruptly. However, only around six percent of these attempts are successful. Research shows that using a medication to help you quit smoking can increase your chances of being successful.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 7 types of smoking cessation medications to safely and effectively help people quit smoking. Choosing which one to use is often a matter of personal choice and should be discussed with your pharmacist and health care provider.

Nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges are the three types of medications are available over-the-counter at most pharmacies and can help ease the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal when used as directed.

Remaining four types of medications which are available by prescription include:

Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays.
Zyban (bupropion) – an antidepressant to counter depression, ease the nerves, and to reduce cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Chantix (varenicline) – it interferes with the nicotine receptors in the brain, which results in reducing the pleasure that you get from tobacco use, and decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

 

 

NRTs can reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms you experience that may hinder your attempt to give up smoking. It's to be noted that these drugs do have side effects which include behavioral changes, depressed mood, aggression, nausea, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions.
In case you feel weakness, nausea or dizziness, etc. after using these drugs it's recommended that you contact your doctor.

>> Seek Behavioral Support As It's Crucial

The physical and mental dependence you have on smoking makes it challenging to stay away from nicotine after your quit day. To quit, you need to tackle this dependence. Trying counseling services, self-help materials, and support services can help you to get through this time.
Combining medication with behavioral support has been demonstrated to increase the chances of long-term smoking cessation significantly.

 

source: newhealthadvisor.com

Behavioral support can range from written information and advice to group therapy or individual counseling in person, by phone, or online. Self-help materials likely increase quit rates compared with no support at all, but overall, individual counseling is the most effective behavioral support method.

Researchers have learned this fact about quitting smoking that the person who smokes needs to keep trying. It may take numerous serious attempts before a person who smokes can quit forever. Rather than looking at a slip back to smoking as a failure, consider it an opportunity to learn from experience and be better prepared to quit the next time. If you are one of those who have failed previously at giving up this toxic habit, it's vital that you don't lose hope and next time give it your best try.

 

Photo: FILE