Have you decided to quit smoking? Is it time for your last cigarette? Great! You have then 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 really hard 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
Not many people are able to quit smoking without the help of techniques and aids. There are many methods and aids that can be helpful – both in terms of keeping your motivation up and in managing withdrawal symptoms.
You might, for example:
- Try different stop smoking aids to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.
- Plan! Set a date for your last cigarette and plan how to cut down.
- Exercise – working out 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. Lucky that there is more than one way to quit smoking. Putting together a customised toolbox means you boost your chances to succeed significantly.
Benefits of quitting smoking
There are hardly any former smokers who regret their decision. Most people who have quit smoking can’t even understand why they started smoking to begin with.
Most significant among the benefits is obviously your health. Smoking shortens your life and quitting smoking boosts your chances of avoiding suffering and 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 the list continues.
And the arguments for continuing to smoke?
Side effects of smoking
The stimulation from nicotine is what the smoker wants to access. But there are heaps of 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 smoking causes harm both inside and outside your body. Beside cardiovascular diseases, COPD and cancer, smoking also negatively impacts the health of your skin, hair and teeth.
Smoking increases the risk of:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Lung diseases (including COPD and lung cancer)
- A large number of cancers
- Tooth decay and oral diseases
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
- Sleep deprivation
- Irritability, moodiness
- Increased appetite
As withdrawal symptoms can be very hard, even painful, it’s not uncommon that they make people relapse into smoking and using snus. Being motivated and having access to good aids are thus 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 is going to react when there is a sudden stop to this regular dose. There are, as a matter of fact, side effects of quitting smoking. From a holistic perspective, it’s obviously only positive to give up cigarettes and snus, and in the long-term your body will be both healthier and more energetic.
Therefore, even with difficult withdrawal syndromes, one should keep the positive effects of being a non-smoker in mind. 👍
Early effects (within a day from the last cigarette)
- Blood pressure and pulse will drop to normal levels after 20 minutes
- The carbon monoxide content in your blood drops to normal levels after 8 hours
- Even the risk of heart attack drops after 24 hours
- Both lungs and blood circulation improves noticeably (within 2-12 weeks). You will, for example, notice that walks and other everyday activities become easier.
- Healthier skin with more natural tones
- Your immune system will have recovered a year after having quit smoking, meaning you are less prone to colds, allergies and other infections.
- Significantly reduced risk of heart attack.
The longer you stay smoke-free, the more positive the effects. 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 so-called nicotine receptors and when they no longer get stimulated, this will impact on the brain – the stable, secure feeling you previously have enjoyed via the nicotine is now not there, which in turn leads to significant withdrawal symptoms. You feel unhappy, angry, irritated and even sad. This is obviously very difficult, but persevere! These painful emotions will ease eventually. 😃
Motivation-boosting techniques, workouts, exercises and quit smoking aids can make this difficult period manageable.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
If you are pregnant, you should avoid tobacco and nicotine altogether. The baby in the tummy is adversely impacted if the mother smokes. 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 your baby. Nicotine is quickly absorbed in the milk and transported onward to the baby. As a consequence, the baby may suffer nicotine poisoning. 👶
Consult your doctor, pharmacy staff or nurses if you are using nicotine when you get pregnant or are breastfeeding.
How to manage smoking withdrawal symptoms?
The withdrawal symptoms differ depending on how heavy your smoking habits are. Still, most people find it really hard to manage the symptoms.
- Keep in mind that many of the symptoms you experience will pass rather quickly: cravings, fatigue, frustrations, restlessness – all these challenging emotions will fade off in a fairly short period of time.
- Quit smoking aids – including lozenges, portion pouches, patches, nicotine gums, nicotine spray – help you fight the withdrawal symptoms in an effective, safe and well-tested way. 👩⚕️
- Exercise and workouts are also important elements to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. By exercising, you ease the cravings during the time you exercise, and also for about 50 minutes after finishing exercising. 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 a big blow to motivation for many. Some people may not even consider quitting smoking because they are afraid they will gain weight.
Why do we gain weight when we quit smoking? The most common reasons are:
- increased appetite
- sweet cravings replace smoke cravings
- food tastes better after quitting smoking as the taste and smell senses recover
- the habit of having something in the mouth – food becomes a natural substitute for cigarettes
Regular exercise and working out when you are quitting smoking will help you control your weight and waist measure, while also keeping smoke cravings at bay and energy and perseverance up.
Which stop smoking aids are available?
Today, there is a wide range of nicotine supplement products available to help you manage withdrawal symptoms and to control smoke 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 within close proximity can experience negative health effects, through so-called passive, or secondhand, smoking. For example, a non-smoker who lives with a smoker has a 30% higher risk of contracting lung cancer.
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 one can make for one’s health. But it is still a very hard decision. For many, the withdrawal symptoms that arise are almost completely unbearable, which often means they fail with their attempts to quit smoking. This is completely understandable – it’s really draining.
For others, those who perhaps are heavy smokers, quitting smoking may mean that a large part of their lifestyle disappears. Sometimes it’s not only the physical addiction that is difficult to beat, but it can be as hard to tackle the social rituals and the mental side associated with smoking.
To succeed and persevere during this challenging time, there are some smart tricks to make use of:
- 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 work out what they are and avoid them until you feel confident as a non-smoker.
- Clean your home of nicotine! Get rid of all cigarettes and lighters and other accessories. With no tobacco nearby, the risk of relapsing is lower.
- Have some good alternatives to cigarettes around! When smoke craving shows its ugly face, it’s a good idea to have something that replaces the cigarette. Perhaps some chewing gum or an apple? Various quit smoking aids may also be of great help to keep cravings at bay.
- Be proud! Every cigarette you don’t smoke is evidence of your strength and your courage. Be happy, proud and pleased each time you have fought back the cravings. Reward yourself! You’re a hero and you deserve a reward for your achievement!
Lost the fight against cigarettes? Don’t give up!
Did you not succeed to quit smoking? Easy to understand and nothing to feel ashamed of. Smokers suffer from a chronic addictive illness, simply meaning that the nicotine receptors in the brain are permanent. If you have tried and failed, just remember that the world is full of former smokers – it’s not impossible to quit once and for all. 😉 It’s important to find a strategy, method and an aid that suits your particular journey.
How can I help my partner quit smoking?
If you are living with a partner who wants to quit smoking, then there are a few things you can do to help them:
- Be supportive without preaching. Emphasise that you really want to live a long life with them and point out the practical benefits of them quitting. For example, an analysis of the money that could be saved from quitting.
- Help your partner find a nicotine replacement that suits them. You can assist by ensuring they always have a smoking cessation aid close by.
- Suggest participating in activities that divert your partner’s thoughts away from smoking.
Why do people smoke?
Considering everything we know about cigarette smoking today and its adverse health effects, it may seem strange that people still smoke. Many start already in their teenage years, when peer pressure is hard to withstand, or they may feel cool and grown up with a cigarette in their hand. Some people are more receptive to nicotine and become more addicted. Young people can’t really visualise the long-term problems of smoking that occur later in life.
Research also shows that children and youth who get exposed to smoking – for example if a parent or family friend smokes – are at greater risk of starting smoking themselves.
If you never start smoking, you are less likely to suffer from:
- Lung cancer
- Throat cancer
- Heart attack
- Cancer of the bladder
- Aortic valve calcification
- Tooth decay
- Erection problems