No one needs to tell you that smoking is bad for you. We all know that. Sometimes, though, it’s good to take a step back and look at how smoking cigarettes affects our bodies. Smoking can harm just about every one of your organs and it is associated with nearly one in ten deaths in India each year. Let’s take a look at the dangers of smoking and its effect on your body.
When you smoke, the poisons from the tar in your cigarettes enter your blood. These poisons in your blood then:
• Make your blood thicker, and increase chances of clot formation
• Increase your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder than normal
• Narrow your arteries, reducing the amount of oxygen rich blood circulating to your organs.
Together, these changes to your body when you smoke increase the chance of your arteries narrowing and clots forming, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).
Carbon monoxide from the smoke and nicotine both put a strain on the heart by making it work faster. They also increase your risk of blood clots. Other chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the lining of your coronary arteries, leading to furring of the arteries.
In fact, smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack, and if you smoke you have twice the risk of dying from coronary heart disease than lifetime non-smokers.
The good news is that after only one year of not smoking, your risk is reduced by half. After stopping for 15 years, your risk is similar to that of someone who has never smoked.
Your lungs can be very badly affected by smoking. Coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma are just the start. Smoking can cause fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD, a progressive and debilitating disease, is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways and destruction of lung tissue. Typical symptoms of COPD include: increasing breathlessness when active, a persistent cough with phlegm and frequent chest infections.
Whilst the early signs of COPD can often be dismissed as a ‘smoker’s cough’, if people continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can greatly impact on their quality of life. You can slow down the progression of the disease and stopping smoking is the most effective way to do this.
Mouth and throat
Smoking causes unattractive problems such as bad breath and stained teeth, and can also cause gum disease and damage your sense of taste.
The most serious damage smoking causes in your mouth and throat is an increased risk of cancer in your lips, tongue, throat, voice box and gullet (oesophagus). More than 93% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancer in part of the throat) are caused by smoking.
The good news is that when you stop using tobacco, even after many years of use, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing head and neck cancer. Once you’ve been smokefree for 20 years, your risk of head and neck cancer is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
1. Make a Quit Plan
Having a plan can make your quit day easier. A quit plan gives you ways to stay focused, confident, and motivated to quit.
2. Stay Busy
Keeping busy is a great way to stay smokefree on your quit day. Being busy will help you keep your mind off smoking and distract you from cravings. Think about trying some of these activities:
• Get out of the house for a walk.
• Chew gum or hard candy.
• Keep your hands busy with a pen or toothpick, or play a game .
• Drink lots of water.
• Relax with deep breathing.
• Go to a movie.
• Spend time with non-smoking friends and family.
• Go to dinner at your favorite smokefree restaurant.
3. Avoid Smoking Triggers
Triggers are the people, places, things, and situations that set off your urge to smoke. On your quit day, try to avoid all your triggers. Here are some tips to help you outsmart some common smoking triggers:
• Throw away your cigarettes, lighters, and ash trays if you haven’t already.
• Avoid caffeine, which can make you feel jittery. Try drinking water instead.
• Spend time with non-smokers.
• Go to places where smoking isn’t allowed.
• Get plenty of rest and eat healthy. Being tired can trigger you to smoke.
• Change your routine to avoid the things you might associate with smoking.
4. Stay Positive
Quitting smoking is difficult. It happens one minute…one hour…one day at a time. Try not to think of quitting as forever. Pay attention to today and the time will add up. It helps to stay positive. Your quit day might not be perfect, but all that matters is that you don’t smoke—not even one puff. Reward yourself for being smokefree for 24 hours. You deserve it. And if you’re not feeling ready to quit today, set a quit date that makes sense for you. It’s OK if you need a few more days to prepare to quit smoking.
5. Ask for Help
You don’t need to rely on willpower alone to be smokefree. Tell your family and friends when your quit day is. Ask them for support on quit day and in the first few days and weeks after.