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This section is devoted to information to help you in your decision to quit smoking. Everyone knows that smoking isn't good for your health, but, if that being the case, why don't more people quit smoking! The effects of smoking on your health are DOSE related meaning that the longer you have smoked, the number you smoke a day, and the amount of tar in the cigarette equals the amount of harm that you are doing to your body.

Your body has the amazing ability to heal itself and it is indeed a miracle that the healing process begins the moment you take that last puff of cigarette smoke!

If you have smoked for many years make sure that you take this quiz!
The results may shock you!


Hurting Yourself:

* Smoking is an addiction and a major hea;lth hazard. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, a drug that is addictive and can make it very hard, but not impossible, to quit. Some people claim that nicotine the drug is more powerful than heroine!

* More than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are caused from smoking-related illnesses. Smoking greatly increases your risk for lung cancer and many other cancers. There is no denying that smoking is not good for your health. The health effects caused by smoking are staggering!

Hurting Others:

* Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, coworkers, and others who breathe the smoker's cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke.

* Among infants to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year.

* Secondhand smoke from a parent's cigarette increases a child's chances for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, and worsens asthma conditions.

* If both parents smoke, a teenager is more than twice as likely to smoke than a young person whose parents are both nonsmokers. In households where only one parent smokes, young people are also more likely to start smoking.

* Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to deliver babies whose weights are too low for the babies' good health. If all women quit smoking during pregnancy, about 4,000 new babies would not die each year.

Did you know these interesting smoking facts?

  • In the USA, Canada, UK, and in most developed countries, smoking is the principal preventable cause of death and disease.

  • In the USA, 530,000 people die each year from diseases caused by smoking. This is equivalent to 1,325 crashes of a Boeing 747 (more than 3 crashes per day)! It is more than the TOTALITY of deaths due to road accidents, illegal drugs, AIDS, alcoholic cirrhosis, homicides and suicides. In the UK, smoking is responsible for 121,000 deaths per year.

  • One smoker out of 2 dies of a disease attributed to his or her smoking. On average, smokers die 8 years before nonsmokers. By stopping smoking, you add several years to your life expectancy and increase your chances of seeing your grandchildren grow up.

  • Tobacco-caused deaths are usually preceded by long and painful illnesses.

  • Smoking does not only kill old people. In the USA, 36% of deaths occurring in men aged 35 to 69 are due to smoking; and 31% for women of the same age. For the UK, the corresponding figures are 31% for men and 25% for women. (The mortality is lower for women because, in the past, women were less likely to smoke than men).

  • The risk of lung cancer is 18 times higher for smokers than for nonsmokers. The risk of having a heart attack before the age of 65 is 3 times higher. These risks drop significantly if you quit smoking.

  • Only 13% of the people who are diagnosed with lung cancer today will be alive in five years.

  • Smoking is the cause of many other health problems: cerebral attacks (strokes), osteoporosis (reduction in the density of the bones, causing pain and fractures), chronic bronchitis, stomach ulcers, deterioration of the gums, etc.

  • Smokers cause 33% of all fires (because of cigarettes thrown in the trash, etc).

  • Many accidents on the road are caused by smokers because of inattention while lighting a cigarette or while searching for a cigarette that has fallen on the floor.

Why Quit Smoking in the First Place?

* Quitting smoking makes a difference right away-you can taste and smell food better. Your breath smells better. Your cough goes away. This happens for men and women of all ages, even those who are older. It happens for healthy people as well as those who already have a disease or condition caused by smoking.

* Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, many other cancers, heart disease, stroke, other lung diseases, and other respiratory illnesses.

* Ex-smokers have better health than current smokers. Ex- smokers have fewer days of illness, fewer health complaints, and less bronchitis and pneumonia than current smokers.

* Quitting smoking saves money. A pack-a-day smoker, who pays $2 per pack, can expect to save more than $700 per year. It appears that the price of cigarettes will continue to rise in coming years, as will the financial rewards of quitting.

Some Excellent Quitting Tips

Getting Ready to Quit

* Set a date for quitting. If possible, have a friend quit smoking with you.

* Notice when and why you smoke. Try to find the things in your daily life that you often do while smoking (such as drinking your morning cup of coffee or driving a car).

* Change your smoking routines: Keep your cigarettes in a different place. Smoke with your other hand. Don't do anything else when smoking. Think about how you feel when you smoke.

* Smoke only in certain places, such as outdoors.

* When you want a cigarette, wait a few minutes. Try to think of something to do instead of smoking; you might chew gum or drink a glass of water.

* Buy one pack of cigarettes at a time. Switch to a brand of cigarettes you don't like.

On the Day You Quit

* Get rid of all your cigarettes. Put away your ashtrays.

* Change your morning routine. When you eat breakfast, don't sit in the same place at the kitchen table. Stay busy.

* When you get the urge to smoke, do something else instead.

* Carry other things to put in your mouth, such as gum, hard candy, or a toothpick.

* Reward yourself at the end of the day for not smoking. See a movie or go out and enjoy your favorite meal.

Staying Quit

* Don't worry if you are sleepier or more short-tempered than usual; these feelings will pass.

* Try to exercise-take walks or ride a bike.

* Consider the positive things about quitting, such as how much you like yourself as a non-smoker, health benefits for you and your family, and the example you set for others around you. A positive attitude will help you through the tough times.

* When you feel tense, try to keep busy, think about ways to solve the problem, tell yourself that smoking won't make it any better, and go do something else.

* Eat regular meals. Feeling hungry is sometimes mistaken for the desire to smoke.

* Start a money jar with the money you save by not buying cigarettes.

* Let others know that you have quit smoking-most people will support you. Many of your smoking friends may want to know how you quit. It's good to talk to others about your quitting.

* If you slip and smoke, don't be discouraged. Many former smokers tried to stop several times before they finally succeeded. Quit again.

If you need more help, see your doctor.

He or she may prescribe Zyban, nicotine gum or a nicotine patch to help you break your addiction to cigarettes.

Preparing to Reduce and Quit - Prepare for Success

The first step is the most important: Preparation.

  • Adequate preparation ensures a better chance for your success, and prevents or reduces problems with relapse while you attain your goal of reducing or quitting tobacco use.

  • Tobacco users who fail in their attempts to quit have often failed to adequately prepare.

  • The average tobacco user has made six to eight attempts before successfully changing or eliminating the tobacco habit.

  • Select a goal. Decide if you want to reduce or quit your tobacco use, and/or improve your health. Preparation time may take a few days or up to three months. Don't rush it.

  • Examine your past successful attempts to change your tobacco habit. When were you able to reduce or quit for a good amount of time? What helped you to succeed? There can be important clues in your past experiences that can help you in your ultimate success.

  • When adopting a new behavior (such as exercise or changing your diet), you need to perform that new behavior for at least 100 days (about three months) in order to create a new and healthy lifestyle habit.

  • Try to develop only one or two new habits at a time. Doing more is very stressful and may cause you to have cravings for tobacco. You may be setting yourself up to fail.

  • You will need multiple, strong, new habits to combat the strength of your old tobacco habit. Design a plan with at least six to 12 strategies to help you to relax, cope with stress, occupy your hands or deal with boredom.

  • Develop your new habits first, and then let go of the old tobacco habit. Changing your tobacco habit can be a very big lifestyle change, and many tobacco users report that the change consumes much energy and attention for a while. Having other healthy behaviors already integrated into your lifestyle will make this transition period easier.

  • Read Dr. Tom Ferguson's book, "The No-Nag, No-Guilt, Do-It-Your-Own-Way Guide to Quitting Smoking".

  • If you use more than the equivalent of 10 cigarettes a day, or if you believe that you are addicted to nicotine, explore the possibility of using a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) that can help you reduce withdrawal symptoms. If you believe that a NRT would be helpful, select which NRT you will use: gum, nasal spray, inhaler or patches.

  • Identify if you want to use an antidepressant to help you in the quitting process. You can choose from nutritional or herbal over-the-counter products, or prescription medications. Zyban (also sold as Wellbutrin) is the prescription antidepressant that is currently approved by the FDA for smoking cessation.

  • Create a meaningful, personal ritual to say "goodbye" to your favorite tobacco product or your old tobacco habits, and follow through with your plan.

Debora J. Orrick, M.A., LCDC, CTAC-ACP
Tom Ferguson, M.D.
Date Published: November, 1998
Date Reviewed: November, 1998

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