Have you decided to quit smoking? Is it time for your last cigarette? Great! You have taken the first step along the journey that actually can save your life.
Quitting smoking is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones. It may seem impossible at first – as it can indeed be very difficult to become a non-smoker – but the rewards are more than worth it. Better health, better quality of life, better fitness. These are just a few of the positive effects of quitting smoking.
- Smart tips on how to become a non-smoker
- Benefits of quitting smoking
- Side effects of smoking
- Are there any side effects of quitting smoking?
- What happens in the body when you quit smoking?
- Quitting smoking and mood swings
- Methods to quit smoking
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- How to manage smoking withdrawal symptoms?
- Weight gain and quitting smoking
- Which stop smoking aids are available?
- Passive smoking
- Prior to quitting – plan your smoking cessation
- Lost the fight against cigarettes? Don’t give up!
- How can I help my partner quit smoking?
- Why do people smoke?
- Is coronavirus COVID-19 more dangerous for smokers?
Smart tips on how to become a non-smoker
Few people are able to quit smoking without help. There are many methods and products that can be helpful – both in terms of keeping your motivation up and in managing withdrawal symptoms.
You might, for example:
- Plan! Set a date for your last cigarette and plan how to cut down.
- Try different stop smoking products until you find the one that works best for you
- Exercise – beining active helps you keep focused, reduce cravings and avoid gaining weight.
Keep in mind, however, that everyone is different. What works for some people might not work for you. Luckily, there is more than one way to quit smoking. Creating a personalized plan will significantly increase your chances to succeed.
Benefits of quitting smoking
There are very few former smokers who regret their decision. Most people who have quit smoking don’t understand why they started smoking to begin with.
Improving your health is obviously the most significantbenefit.. Smoking shortens your life and quitting smoking boosts your chances of avoiding many serious, fatal diseases.
Quitting smoking can realistically give you:
- An improved sense of smell and taste
- More energy
- Lower blood pressure
- Healthier lungs
- Reduced risk of getting cancer
... and that is just a partial list.
And the arguments for continuing to smoke?
None that make it worth it.
Side effects of smoking
The stimulation from nicotine is what the smoker craves. But there are many other effects of smoking, and they are far from positive.
When smoking, thousands of substances enter your lungs. These substances are terribly bad for your health and appearance. Beside cardiovascular diseases, COPD and cancer, smoking also negatively impacts your skin, hair and teeth.
Smoking increases the risk of:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Lung diseases (including COPD and cancer)
- A large number of other cancers
- Tooth decay and oral disease
Are there any side effects of quitting smoking?
A few things happen in the body when you stop supplying it with nicotine and tobacco. The first thing you’ll notice is a significant craving to smoke and associated withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be different for different people, but common symptoms are:
- Difficulties concentrating
- Feeling depressed
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability, moodiness
- Increased appetite
As withdrawal symptoms can be very hard, even painful, it’s not uncommon that they make people relapse into smoking. Maintaining motivation and having access to helpful stop smoking products are important elements of persevering and staying away from tobacco.
What happens in the body when you quit smoking?
A body used to a regular intake of tobacco and nicotine will react when once you stop smoking. There are, side effects of quitting smoking. However, giving up cigarettes, will make you healthier and more energetic.
To help deal with the difficult withdrawal symptoms, you should focus on the positive benefits of being a non-smoker. 👍
Early benefits (within one day from the last cigarette)
- Blood pressure and pulse will drop to normal levels, after 20 minutes
- Carbon monoxide content in your blood drops to normal levels, after 8 hours
- Risk of heart attack drops, at 24 hours
- Lungs and blood circulation improves noticeably, You may notice that walks and other everyday activities become easier.
- Healthier skin with more natural tones
- Immune system will recover, meaning you will be less prone to colds, allergies and other infections.
- Significantly reduced risk of heart attack.
The longer you stay smoke-free, the more positive the benefits. The risk of cancer is halved after five years, which is also when your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke will be at the same level as for someone who has never smoked.
Quitting smoking and mood swings
Many people who stop using tobacco will experience mood swings. 😒 This is due to the chemistry of the brain. As a nicotine user, your brain is stimulated to release substances that make you feel good and content. The brain develops nicotine receptors and when these receptors no longer receive nicotine, it impacts the brain.
The stable, secure feeling you previously enjoyed while smoking is now not there – it has been replaced by nicotine withdrawal symptoms. You may feel anxious, stressed,, angry, irritated or even sad. These feelings can be difficult to deal with, but persevere! They are temporary. 😃
Motivation-boosting techniques, workouts, exercises and quit smoking products can make this difficult period more manageable.
Methods to quit smoking
There are many different techniques and methods available for when you want to quit smoking:
- Support groups and group therapy with others in the same situation have been proven effective. You can either find other smokers and set up your own group or contact a healthcare service. Many healthcare clinics have support groups set up for smokers wanting to quit.
- Improving your diet can also be effective. Simple, quick, low-calorie snacks will help control cravings and stimulate the mouth:
– Vegetable sticks
– Wholegrain bread
– Fruit slices
– Sugar-free gum/lozenges
As the appetite and craving for something sweet can increase when you quit smoking, it’s important to eat a balanced diet and exercise, to avoid weight gain.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
If you are pregnant, you should avoid tobacco and nicotine altogether because your unborn baby can be negatively impacted. The baby risks having lower birth weight, abnormalities, birth complications and the risk of sudden infant death is also higher.
You should also completely refrain from tobacco and nicotine products if you are breastfeeding. Nicotine is quickly absorbed in the milk and delivered to the baby. 👶 As a consequence, the baby may suffer nicotine poisoning, with symptoms such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Grey skin tones
- Loose stools
Consult your doctor, pharmacy staff or nurse if you use nicotine when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How to manage smoking withdrawal symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms differ, depending on how heavy your smoking habits were.
- Many of the symptoms you experience will weaken or pass completely after a few days: cravings, fatigue, frustrations, restlessness, anxiety – all these challenging emotions will fade..
- Quit smoking products (nicotine replacement) – including oral pouches, lozenges, , patches, gums, and sprays – help you fight withdrawal symptoms in a safe and efficacious way. 👩⚕️
- Exercise and workouts are also important elements to control withdrawal symptoms. You ease the cravings during the time you exercise, and for up to 50 minutes after finishing. Working out also builds both physical and mental strength to keep your motivation up. It also helps prevent weight gain, which is not uncommon when people quit smoking.
Weight gain and quitting smoking
It’s not uncommon for people to gain weight when they quit smoking. This can obviously be demotivating for many. Some people may not even consider quitting smoking because they are afraid they will gain weight.
Why do some people gain weight when they quit smoking? The most common reasons are:
- Increased appetite
- Sweet cravings replace nicotine cravings
- Food tastes better after quitting smoking as the taste and smell senses recover
- Habit of having something in the mouth or hands – food becomes a natural substitute for cigarettes
Regular exercise when you are quitting smoking will help you control your weight, while also controlling smoking cravings, increasing energy and maintaining perseverance.
Which stop smoking aids are available?
Today, there is a wide range of nicotine replacement products available to help you manage withdrawal symptoms and to control smoking cravings. Common products with proven effects are:
- Nicotine spray
- Nicotine pouches
- Nicotine lozenges
- Nicotine gums
- Nicotine patches
Not only smokers suffer from the hazardous substances in cigarettes. Even people who live or work in close proximity can experience negative health effects, through passive, or second-hand, smoking. For example, a non-smoker who lives with a smoker has a 30% higher risk of contracting lung cancer than a non-smoker who lives with another non-smoker.
Based on research, close to 5% of heart attacks in developed European countries are caused by passive smoking. Quitting smoking is thus not only of benefit to yourself, but also to your loved ones.
Prior to quitting – plan your smoking cessation
Deciding to quit smoking is probably the best decision you can make for health. But it is still a very hard decision. For many, the withdrawal symptoms that arise are extremely difficult to deal with, which often results in a return to smoking. This is completely understandable – the process can be really draining.
For others, those who perhaps are heavy or social smokers, quitting smoking may mean that a large part of their lifestyle disappears. It’s not only the physical addiction that is difficult to beat, it can be just as hard to tackle the social rituals and the behavioral side of smoking.
To succeed and persevere during this challenging time, there are some smart strategies:
- Set a date for when you will quit smoking! That allows you time to get prepared
- Avoid triggers! Certain places and situations can boost your cravings for a cigarette. Try to determine what they are and avoid them as best you can until you feel confident as a non-smoker.
- Clean your home of nicotine! Get rid of all cigarettes,lighters and other accessories. With no tobacco nearby, the risk of relapsing is lower.
- Have some good alternatives to cigarettes around! When a nicotine craving shows its ugly face, it’s a good idea to have something that replaces the cigarette. Perhaps some sugar-free chewing gum or an apple? Quit smoking products may also be of great help to control your cravings.
- Be proud! Every cigarette you don’t smoke is evidence of your strength and your courage. Quitting is very hard. Be happy, proud and pleased each time you defeat a craving. Reward yourself! You’re a hero and you deserve a reward for your achievement!
Lost the fight against cigarettes? Don’t give up!
Was you quit attempt unsuccessful? It’s easy to understand and nothing to feel ashamed of. Nicotine addiction is a difficult illness because the nicotine receptors in the brain that create the cravings are permanent.
Just remember that the world is full of former smokers – it’s not impossible to quitWhen you’re ready for another quit attempt, it’s important to find a strategy (new routines, new stop-smoking products), that suit your particular quit journey. Do not give up!
How can I help my partner quit smoking?
If you are living with a partner who wants to quit smoking, there are things you can do to help them:
- Be supportive without preaching or creating more stress. Be patient and empathetic – recognizing that they may not ‘be themselves’ for a while. Emphasize that you really want to live a long life with them and point out the practical benefits of them quitting. Reinforce their reasons for quitting (health, saving money, etc…)
- Help your partner find a nicotine replacement product that suits them. You can assist by ensuring they always have options close by.
- Suggest participating in activities that divert your partner’s thoughts away from smoking.
Why do people smoke?
Considering everything we know about the adverse health effects of cigarette smoking today , it may seem strange that people still smoke. Many started as teenagers, due to peer pressure or a desire to feel ‘grown up’, with a cigarette in their hand. Young people can’t really visualise the long-term problems of smoking that occur later in life and they probably didn’t expect to become addicted.
Research also shows that children who get exposed to smoking – for example if a parent or family friend smokes – are at greater risk of starting smoking themselves.
Other people smoke for the social connection or for the pleasure it brings them – which is why quitting can be so difficult.
The best way to quit is to not start… If you never start smoking, you are less likely to suffer from:
- Various cancer, including lung and throat
- Heart attack
- Tooth decay
- Erection problems