How to quit smoking

How To Quit Smoking For Good

11 ways your body will thank you

Published: February 2, 2018

If you’re a smoker, or have a loved one that you want to help to quit smoking, then it’s important to embrace the benefits of being smoke-free. Instead of only focusing on how bad smoking is for you.

What you need is motivation and inspiration in the form of positive and practical advice. In this article, we’ll be discussing the benefits of quitting, busting the most common smoking myths and sharing the best way you can stop smoking for good.

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Health benefits of quitting smoking

Nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco-derived products. After just 12 hours without it the levels of carbon monoxide in your blood will have dropped drastically, and your body will take in and use oxygen more efficiently.

Two days into your journey, your sense of taste and smell will improve and continue to normalise. After two weeks, blood vessels will begin to repair themselves and your body will start to heal.

Quit smoking and smell nice

What happens when you quit smoking?

  • Better vision: Your overall vision will improve, including your night vision.
  • Clearer skin: Blemishes will start to clear up and your skin will become rosier, losing the greyish tint prevalent with smokers.
  • Decrease risk of heart disease and stroke: With your blood circulation improving your blood pressure will start to normalise and your risk of a heart attack, as well the chances of developing dangerous blood clots, will reduce.
  • Improves lung functioning: After 72 hours your bronchial tubes will start to relax and inflammation in the airways will decrease.
  • Better sex: Quitting lowers erectile dysfunction and you’ll smell a lot nicer, making intimacy more pleasurable for both of you.
  • Less belly fat: Your belly fat and risk of diabetes will decrease.
  • Cheaper life insurance: Being smoke-free for 12 months makes you eligible for standard rate life insurance rates.
  • More money: By spending less money on smoking, you’ll be able to save more towards something important, like education for your children, a family holiday, emergency funds, or whatever you choose.
  • Longer, healthier life: Quitting protects your DNA from further damage and will even start to repair the damage already done, so your risk of getting cancer will also decrease.
  • Protecting your family: You’ll protect your family from harmful second-hand smoke, as well as the possibility of your premature death.
  • More energy: Physical activity will be easier, making going to the gym or playing sports a lot more enjoyable.

Top 5 smoking myths busted

If you stop smoking you’ll gain weight

It’s not smoking that’s making you put on weight, it’s what you’re doing instead of smoking. According to ICanQuit the average weight gain for most people quitting smoking is about 4kg, because people tend to replace food with smoking as a form of relaxation and comfort.

Nicotine withdrawals are similar to hunger pangs so people who would normally have skipped a meal to rather enjoy a cigarette no longer do, they have a sandwich or muffin instead.

If you’re not coping with the withdrawal and cravings find a healthy replacement to help you cope, for example go for a walk, message a friend or update your Instagram.

Smoking does not keep you skinny

Nicotine burns calories

Smoking does not burn calories! What it does is inhibit insulin, which means that sugar stays in your bloodstream for longer, creating a hyperglycaemic condition that’s normally associated with diabetics. You might feel fuller for longer, but it doesn’t burn calories.

Smoking reduces stress

Nicotine actually acts as a stimulant. Each initial drag gives you a kick, which makes you feel more awake and alert. A rush of adrenaline floods your body, causing your heart rate and blood pressure to increase.

Without cigarettes, you’ll have less energy

In contrast to myth 3, nicotine also has a sedative effect. The more you smoke, the less ‘kick’ you’ll get. Over time your body builds up a tolerance to this so you have to smoke more to get the same result. But the more you smoke the more lethargic you'll feel as the carbon monoxide in your bloodstream increases, and breathing becomes more laborious.   

Quitting is too expensive

Nicotine patches and stop-smoking meds are far less expensive than the long-term costs of smoking, like paying almost triple for life insurance.

Is smoking really that bad?

Yes, smoking really IS that bad for you. Due to the chemicals in cigarettes, every puff damages your body a little bit more. The chemicals found in cigarettes include:

  • Benzene: A carcinogen that’s linked to leukaemia and used to produce gasoline.
  • Ammonia: Used in household cleaning, added to boost the effects of nicotine.
  • Arsenic: A carcinogen that can cause coronary damage.
  • Formaldehyde: Used to preserve dead bodies and known to cause cancer.
  • Cyanide and DDT: One is a deadly poison and the other a banned insecticide.
chemicals found in cigarettes

How smoking affects your body

What smoking does to your looks

  • Bags under the eyes due to lack of proper sleep. You will toss and turn during your sleeping hours because your body goes through possible nicotine withdrawal.
  • You risk getting psoriasis, an autoimmune-related skin condition that results in thick, itchy patches on your body.
  • Tar starts coating the enamel of your teeth, discolouring them.
  • Premature ageing: Long-term smoking can lead to premature ageing and wrinkles as the chemicals impede the blood supply needed to keep your skin tissue supple and healthy.
  • Nicotine stains your fingers and nails, causing them to become yellowed and brown.

What smoking does to your lungs

  • Dirty lungs: The self-cleaning system in your lungs starts failing as the cilia (broom-like hairs in your lungs), which clean your lungs, slow down and die.
  • Coughing: Cells which produce mucus in your lungs and airways grow in size and number, so thicker mucus is produced more often. The mucus isn’t effectively cleaned due to compromised cilia, causing you to cough. This persistent mucus also leads to infections.
  • Less O2: Lung tissue is destroyed and the number of air spaces and blood vessels in the lungs decreases, causing less oxygen to be carried around your body.
  • Defences are down: Your lungs and airways become narrow which reduces air flow, and because your natural defences are suppressed the lungs get irritated and inflamed, and are more prone to infection.
  • Cancer: Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can make normal cells change into cancer cells.

What smoking does to your brain

  • Reduces IQ: A reduction in mental capacity from the reduced oxygen supply to the brain and increased carbon monoxide in the haemoglobin.
  • Lack of concentration: Reduced oxygen supply to the brain also causes fatigue and you’re more likely to suffer from a lack focus due to impure and under-oxygenated blood to your grey matter.
  • Low libido: In addition to general fatigue in the body due to nicotine, the receptors in the area of your brain responsible for sexual stimulation are impacted by nicotine addiction, reducing your desire.
  • No more feel-good: Smoking hinders the natural feel-good receptors in your brain, leading to depressive moods.
  • Stroke: Your brain depends on the arteries connecting it to the heart for a steady supply of oxygenated blood. When these arteries lose elasticity or get blocked due to excess plaque deposits it results in a stroke.
  • Brain shrinkage: Some multiple sclerosis patients have an increased chance of brain shrinkage and lesions when they are smokers.

What smoking does to your heart

  • Peripheral artery disease: A condition in which the arteries responsible for carrying blood to the head, organs, and limbs end up with a build-up of plaque. This puts you at risk for a number of diseases, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis: A disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries, hardening and narrowing them and limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body.
  • Coronary heart disease: If plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries, this can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia, and even death.

What is the best way to quit smoking?

Every smoker is different, however, the two most common ways to quit smoking are to either gradually reduce the amount you smoke until you’re down to zero, or to quit cold turkey. The way you choose to stop smoking depends on your specific circumstances and your support system, for example, you might choose to see a therapist or ask your family to keep you accountable.

The possibility of relapsing is highest during the first few weeks and months of quitting, so choose an option that you know you’re more likely to stick with.

Best way to quit smoking

Quit smoking tips to start applying today

Before you quit

Keep a smoking diary to determine your triggers for wanting to smoke, for example after having a coffee or when at a bar etc. This will help you find better ways of coping to combat those cravings. For instance, if you regularly have a cigarette after a business meeting as a way to relax, you could replace smoking with a quick candy crush game or have a good stretch.

Make a plan

Chuck away anything that reminds you of smoking, including matches, ashtrays, cigarette holders, etc. Decide on a quitting date and mark it on your calendar. Next, write down all your reasons for quitting and review that list every time a craving strikes.

plan to stop smoking

Be proactive

Prepare a list of things to do to help you ride out the cravings, like talking to your friends, taking the dog for a walk, having a cup of tea, finishing chores around the house, brushing your teeth etc.

You might also want to incentivise yourself for success, for example, every time you would usually buy a pack of cigarettes, put that money in a jar and treat yourself with a new outfit or a massage during a particularly low moment.

Soon, you will feel clean and clear. The smell of a cigarette will trigger disgust rather than delight and desire. Keep in mind that everyone’s journey is different, but so long as you hang in there, it will get better and there will come a day when the cravings are but a distant memory.

If you’ve stopped smoking for a full 12 months, then now is the time to review your life insurance policy and compare, because you will now be classified as a non-smoker and generally pay considerably less in premiums for your cover.

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