Sunday, October 11, 2009

Smokers and Quitters

Is quitting smoking your New Year’s resolution? If so, how are you doing?
The following facts and tips will encourage you each step of the way.

Scary Facts

You’ve heard them all, but here are some reminders:
1.    Smoking causes one in five adult deaths, not only from cancer, but also from heart and lung disease.
2.    How does smoking increase risk for heart disease? High levels of carbon monoxide raise cholesterol levels, white blood cells counts and other risk factors for heart disease. Carbon monoxide also decreases oxygen in the blood.
3.    Smoking is the main cause of early deaths.
4.    Cigarettes are the second most common poison source, after medications, for children under age one.
5.    One third of all cancers are due to cigarette smoking, with passive smoking (second hand smoke) also being harmful. Consider those around you before you light up.
6.    If you smoke, you could put your wife at risk for cancer. A recent study showed that women’s bodies absorbed cancer-causing compounds from the atmosphere through their lungs.
7.    If you smoke one packet of cigarettes a day and have one alcoholic drink a day, your risk for oral cancer is 400% more than an abstainer’s.
8.    If you find yourself with low self-esteem, smoking may be to blame. Studies have found that smokes who quit find themselves happier, healthier, and more confident.
9.    The greatest risk for bladder cancer is smoking. Smokers have twice the risk of non-smokers. Quit or help your loved ones quit.
10.    Cigarette smoking increases your homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Stop smoking now.
11.    Supplements cannot undo the negative effects of smoking. Two studies show that beta-carotene supplements actually increased cancer in smokers.
12.    Screwing up the face while smoking and pursing the lips to drag on a cigarette lead to early wrinkling. Quit now.
13.    Smoking makes your skin look older. But more than that, smoking triples the risk of developing one of the most common forms of skin cancer.

Encouraging Tips
Many of my clients want to stop smoking. Although I've never smoked, I encourage them with many tips:
• If you are planning to quit smoking, list all the benefits you will derive from your success. They far outweigh any benefits from smoking.
• If you find that smoking has negatively impacted your romantic relationships, it might be time to quit. It’s tough enough to get a decent date.
• Quit smoking now, and, according to a study, you will be showing improvements in heart disease risk factors within a few weeks (August, 2001 Nicotine & Tobacco Research).
• Don’t give up on your goal to quit smoking. Success rates are only 15 - 20% but you can be among the winners.
• Research shows that people who have successfully quit smoking after many tries learned something useful from each failed attempt to quit. Keep learning until you succeed.
•  Ask your friends how they quit smoking. Try their method yourself and ask them to support you. They’ll be delighted.
• When friends and family members nag you to quit smoking, don’t get angry. Try to remember that they have your best interest at heart and thank them for caring about you.

Stories from clients

Looking for Quick Fixes
    “Should I go on a macrobiotic diet to prevent cancer?” a friend asks me. (The macrobiotic diet is considered to be cancer quackery, as there is no evidence that it can cure cancer.) “You smoke.” I say. “Yes, but that’s my only vice.” he says. I explained to him that there is no advantage in trying various weird and wonderful diets if he intends to smoke. He says he feels guilty about smoking. He tries to stop but then, at a social gathering, someone offers him a cigarette and he starts again.

    I told him that feeling guilty is a miserable way to feel. How does he feel when he quits? He feels fabulous. How does he feel when he smokes? Rotten! So how many rotten days does he want to have in the next week? Four? Five? None? If you have a choice between fabulous and rotten days, how many would you choose? Decide now to feel fabulous every day. That’s quite a good deal!

 Teen Smoking – confessions from teenage girls
    “Please don’t tell my parents. The reason I started smoking at 15 was because of depression, after my ex-boyfriend and I broke up. I smoke a pack a day. My friends are worried because we sit in the coffee shop at night and I chain smoke for hours. I want to stop because I can’t breathe and it’s really expensive.”
“I can’t believe my parents don’t know. They smell it on me and I tell them it’s from my friends and they believe me. I don’t like lying but they’d be upset if they knew. I feel so ashamed that I have to lie.”
    “My mother noticed my yellow fingers, so I had to tell her that I have smoked a lot during the summer. With school starting again, I won’t have so much time. Maybe I’ll try to stop altogether. I think I’d find it easier to stop gradually. I’m really scared of gaining weight. I think it’s best to stop cold turkey. I know that’s the way I’ll stop. I think that works the best. You just have to handle it for three days then you’re okay. I smoke half a pack a day. I started at ten years when my older sister used to give me a cigarette. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke. It brings you down, physically. It has affected my sports, I can’t breathe. I would stop for health reasons, if my doctor told me I should.”

Are these real-life-reads not convincing enough?
Read the following advantages and check the ones that appeal to you:

Advantages to quitting

1. Better health: lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, stomach and duodenal ulcers
2. Ability to walk or climb stairs without losing your breath
3. Less aging
4. Less wrinkling of skin
5. More confidence
6. No more guilty feelings
7. Better use of time instead of taking smoke breaks
8. No fingernail discoloration
9. No more nasty smells
10. Better ways to spend your dollars
11. Feel welcome in restaurants, homes and offices
12. Won’t aggravate asthma of family members
13. Set a good example for your children
14. Essential if pregnant
15. Feel happier
16. Smile prettier

Now that you know why you should quit, here is how you can quit.

Steps to Quitting

Take definite steps now. If your family or friends smoke support them by keeping them busy with:
1.    Walks- When you feel the urge to pick up a cigarette, take a long walk instead.
2.    Any form of exercise- Do what you like! Take a bicycle ride, a hike, or play a sport.
3.    Healthy snacks- Sometimes you just need to satisfy the habit of having something in your mouth and in your hand, so snack on some carrot sticks instead of reaching for a cigarette.
4.    Fun activities- Engage in your favorite hobby to distract you from the urge to smoke.
5.    A new hobby- Try something you’ve never tried before!
6.    Meeting with successful quitters- Remember that you’re not alone. Learn from other successful quitters’ experiences.
7.    Get Help! - If you can quit on your own, that’s good. If you need help, see your physician. Speak to family and friends who have quit. Contact the Lung Association - volunteer time to do charity work for them. Get help from anyone - there are plenty of services out there. You need to have your new attitude focused on healthy goals rather than deprivation from your nasty habit.

When you quit smoking, look for help to prevent weight gain. Find a dietitian at for continuous motivation.

Remember, something enjoyable has to replace the act of smoking, and has to be so engrossing that the thought of lighting up goes away.

Good luck for much success!