Tobacco kills more than half of its users; that is, over 7 million people global, each year. Out of the over 7 million deaths that occur annually, approximately 6 million are as a result of direct smoking, while over 600,000 others, are due to second hand smoking.
Tobacco use is not only through smoking; it can be chewed, sucked or even sniffed and whichever way a person uses tobacco, it affects their health in one way or the other.
Tobacco products are made partly or entirely of leaf tobacco as the raw material. Its use causes a number of health conditions including lung diseases such as lung cancer (the leading cause of cancer deaths) and cardiovascular diseases such as arrhythmia and coronary artery disease.
Several countries have put in place measures to discourage tobacco use, especially smoking, through:
- Banning tobacco advertising,
- Setting up smoking zones so that people do not smoke anywhere else, and
- Regulating the age at which a person is allowed to smoke.
Ways to quit smoking
Quitting smoking can be hard, the following are some of the ways that can help you stop smoking:
- Start a quit plan: It is easier said than done, but having a plan gives you focus towards your ultimate goal to stop smoking. In your quit plan, you should:
- Have your quit date (which should be within the next two weeks) to get you prepared,
- Have a clear reason(s) for quitting; whether it is to save money, be healthier or to have a better smell.
- Know the factors that trigger your smoking such as stress, anxiety or even seeing others smoke. That way you can try to avoid your triggers.
- Know how to fight your cravings.
- Get rid of smoking reminders (the things that make it hard for you to stop smoking) by cleaning your car and washing your clothes and most of all, getting rid of any cigarettes you have.
- Keep yourself occupied: Staying busy through exercising, chewing gum, watching a movie, or even doing house chores will help you get your mind off the cravings.
- Avoid your triggers: Some people are triggered by seeing others smoke, being stressed or feeling anxious. By avoiding your triggers, you will avoid any relapse that may be caused by such factors.
- Remain positive: Do not think much about the long-term quitting, just think about that particular moment and day that goes by without a puff because it all adds up in the end. Reward yourself for going a day without smoking as that will help you realize the achievement you have made, and you will feel motivated to go on with the journey towards ‘no more smoking’.
For people who are addicted and find it very difficult to stop, they can consider:
- Taking non-nicotine medications like bupropion and varenicline which reduce cravings and the symptoms brought about by nicotine withdrawal,
- Using NRTs which can be in form of chewing gum, skin patches, nasal sprays, lozenges or inhalers,
- Getting behavioural support from a counsellor, support groups or even self-help materials, or
- Trying alternative therapies like acupuncture, meditation and yoga.
What benefits do you get from quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking is helpful to:
- Reduce your risk of heart conditions,
- Stop lung damage,
- Lower your risk of several cancers including lung cancer and throat cancer, among others,
- Lower your risk of erectile dysfunction,
- Improve your vision and sense of taste and hearing, and
- Cleare up skin blemishes and protecting your skin from premature aging and wrinkling.
Quitting smoking is not an easy journey but it is possible and most of all, worthwhile. Stay smoke free for better health.