Smoking is harmful to EVERYONE. It is estimated that over 37,000 Canadians die each year from smoking-related illness (e.g. cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease) (The Lung Association of Ontario). This isn’t limited to just the smoker, it affects non-smokers too through second-hand smoke, and even unborn babies. However, all of this is PREVENTABLE.
I’d like to highlight some of the benefits of quitting and many can be seen within just 1 week of your last cigarette.
Within 8 hours: the CO (carbon monoxide) levels, a deadly gas, in your body begins to drop and your oxygen levels begin to get back to normal.
Within 48 hours: your sense of smell and taste improves and your chances of having a heart attack lowers.
Within 72 hours: your breathing improves.
Within 2 weeks: the nicotine is gone from your body.
(Government of Canada - Benefits of Quitting Smoking)
And the benefits just continue to come the longer you are smoke free.
Aside from the health benefits, the financial benefits of quitting begin right away. Every dollar you spent on a pack of cigarettes can now be used for something else, that new car, that dream vacation, your child’s education.
Now, let’s begin talking about the steps you can take to begin quitting today. First, let’s focus on the whys.
Why do you smoke? People smoke for many different reasons. I like to break down each cigarette into 2 categories, the cravings (and the beneficial feelings you get from smoking) and the ones out of habit or activities. The cigarettes of habit. Make a journal and note every cigarette you smoked for a week. Do you notice that you smoke after having a meal? After a drink? Every time you go out with a certain friend? The cigarettes associated with a habit or an activity requires a change in activity to quit. If you're smoking after having meal, go for a walk instead after you eat. If you smoke after you have a drink, pick a different drink. If you smoke when with a certain friend, talk to them, and choose a place where you’re not allowed to smoke, encourage them to quit smoking with you, or maybe you just have to get a new friend. Whatever the activity or habit, look to make a change.
The cigarettes of craving. The cravings occur when your body feels that it needs a cigarette. This could be due to withdrawal symptoms (e.g. irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, etc.) or a fear of quitting due to other negative effects perceived from quitting (e.g. weight gain, loss of stress coping mechanism). These can be tackled with will power, pharmacological (i.e. nicotine replacement or other prescription drug), or a combination of both. It is best to work with your healthcare professionals (pharmacist, doctor, nutritionist, and others) to pick an option or options and to develop a plan that will work for you.
The other important why is why do you want to quit? Maybe it’s for the health benefits, maybe it’s become too costly to continue to smoke, maybe it’s to be able to spend more time with your loved ones (e.g. children, grand children). Whatever the reason, make it a point of focus. Make it a big note that you look at everyday, set it as an alarm that reminds you everyday, tell the people around you and have them remind you everyday. Willpower and having strong supports around you a big contributor to helping you quit and making sure you stay smoke free.
It may take a team to be successful, but you’re not in this alone and remember, that YOU are the most important part of the team. Take charge of your health and make the change.
I hope that after reading this blog you will be more knowledgeable about the reasons to quit and that you’ve realized your own reasons and want to begin your own journey to being smoke free. I offer a smoking cessation program where I will be your guide in developing a plan and help connect you with resources to help your journey. I will also list a few resources below that you may find helpful.
I leave you with this question: Why do you want to quit smoking?
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As always, optimize your health, feel great
On the road to quitting: Guide to becoming a non–smoker
A self-help guide to help smokers in their quitting process.
CAMH STOP Program
Providing smoking cessation treatment and counselling support to people across the province
Service provided by trained counsellors to assist people in smoking cessation