Today is the Great American Smokeout. Congratulations ff you are one of the brave and determined souls who put down your cigarettes today. If you are still smoking, it isn’t too late to quit, at least for one day.
Perhaps you are reluctant to quit because you have some preconceived notions about quitting. However, there are some myths about smoking cessation, so be sure you know the facts. Here are some common misconceptions about quitting:
“People gain weight when they quit smoking.”
This is true, but not the whole truth. The majority of those who quit smoking do gain weight, usually less than 10 pounds. However, not everyone does gain weight. Being more physically active can prevent weight gain. The use of medications and/or nicotine replacement (such as nicotine gum) also helps. More importantly, the benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the health risk of weight gain. Besides, you can build on your success. If you can quit smoking, you can lose weight later.
“If I gain weight I will be less attractive.”
Think about this for a moment. First, nonsmokers often find smokers unattractive. Second, premature aging, yellow teeth and cigarette odor are not attractive. Third, do the benefits of being thin outweigh the risks of lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases?
“Smoking is relaxing.”
Nicotine is a stimulant. The relaxation response is usually because smoking temporarily calms down nicotine withdrawal effects – effects that feel like anxiety. There are effective stress reduction techniques that can help withdrawal symptoms and help you manage stress.
“I can’t quit. I have tried too many times to quit.”
The average smoker has 5 to 7 attempts before permanently quitting. It takes as long as it takes. Keep trying until you find a way to quit for good.
“I am too old to quit.”
Older smokers are 50% more likely than any other age group to quit smoking successfully. Wisdom accompanies age and that can be a powerful tool to help you quit.
“I can’t afford to use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).”
Your medical insurance may pay for NRT. The money saved by not buying cigarettes is likely to cover the cost of NRT.
“I enjoy smoking.”
Ask yourself how true this statement is. Do you enjoy every cigarette you smoke or just the ones that are associated with certain rituals, such as after a meal or with a glass of alcohol? Is the enjoyment worth the risk to your health? Look ahead and ask yourself if you think you will still enjoy smoking if you have lung or heart disease.
“It’s too late. I have already damaged my body.”
Your body starts to reverse the damage in as little as 12 hours. Everyone can get some benefit from quitting. Even the elderly who have smoked many years gain some health improvement from quitting.
“Quitting smoking is uncomfortable.”
This is true. However, it is short-term discomfort that improves over time. Lung cancer and breathing problems are much more uncomfortable.
“My grandmother smoked until she died at 95 and she was never sick a day in her life.”
Your grandmother was very lucky, but she was an exception to the rule. Is this really a chance you want to take?
Perhaps a few more facts will help you see the value in quitting.
- Nearly half a million people die annually in the U.S. because of smoking.
- Smokers who continue to smoke have a fifty-fifty chance of dying a smoking-related death.
- In the U.S., one in five people dies a smoking related death .
- More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined..
- Children who breathe secondhand smoke are at risk for asthma and other health problems.
- Smoking is the number one cause of fires and accidental deaths from fire. Contrary to popular belief, this is not due to falling asleep and smoking, but rather from improper disposal of smoking materials.
- There are roughly 4,800 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Some of these are in wood varnish, insect and rat poison. If you are a smoker reluctant to undergo HCV treatment because you do not want to “put chemicals into your body,” you are already doing this with each cigarette you smoke.
- Each cigarette smoked shaves 7 minutes from smokers’ lives. Nearly one day of life is traded for each carton of cigarettes that is smoked.
One half of all people who have ever smoked have quit. Perhaps you will be one of them?