Smoking is an excellent example of how knowledge does not equal action. Everybody knows that smoking is bad for you yet so many people still choose to do it. The reasons behind smoking behaviours are far more complex than craving nicotine. Telling a smoker to stop smoking has the same effect as telling a depressed person to cheer up. How do I know? I am an ex-smoker.
Ask any smoker, and they would give anything to have never smoked that first cigarette. I was never a heavy smoker. I started when I was about 16 at school and smoked between 5-10 a day. I have never been proud of my smoking and I shamefully hid it for so long. Even when I became a dental nurse and then during my time studying as a hygienist, I would still smoke from time to time. The truth? I was addicted to nicotine.
There are no physical withdrawal pains or symptoms when nicotine leaves your body. You simply feel an empty feeling and something similar to being hungry but there is a little voice in your head telling you that you want and need to smoke and the only way to relive that is by lighting up. But after 15+ years of being a smoker, I was fed up with being unhealthy and embarrassed by my habit. I knew I had to do something to beat the addiction once and for all.
How I Quit
I tried nicotine patches, chew gum, lozenges, vaping and Champix (Varenincline), which is a prescription-only medicine. I really wanted to be a non-smoker and often managed to abstain from smoking for long periods of time. The whole time I wasn’t addressing the mental aspect of smoking and the question of ‘why did I still go back to smoking?’ Smokers see quitting as actually giving up something and that somehow life won’t quite be as enjoyable without cigarettes. I can tell you now it’s quite the opposite. In the end reading Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking worked for me. I gave up overnight and haven’t smoked since and never will again.
The Dangers of Smoking
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for nearly 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.
At the start of this year it was reported that around 350,000 people in the UK are expected to quit smoking in 2019, putting smoking rates at their lowest point ever. The study was carried out by the Oral Health Foundation and, out of the 500 smokers surveyed, 66% of those planning to quit are doing so to improve their overall health. The other major motivating factor was financial gain and according to the NHS’s Smokefree initiative, most smokers stand to save approximately £250 per month by quitting.
Smoking leads to a whole host of health issues including an increased risk of tooth loss through periodontal disease, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. All factors which are pushing more people to stub out cigarettes once and for all.
No Smoking Day
13th March 2019 is ‘No Smoking Day’ which is an annual health awareness day to help smokers who want to quit smoking. I share my story with the hopes that I can help others see how much better their lives will be without smoking. I embraced becoming a non-smoker as finally becoming free from the evil weed and celebrate my success with my patients. Ultimately when you truly take the plunge you don’t even need willpower. The bottom line is we will live longer, healthier lives without smoking.
Ready to Quit?
If you would like help quitting smoking, book an appointment with me and we can discuss the various options available.
If you’re ready to go it alone, here are some tips from WeQuit.co.uk to help you succeed:
Set your quit date: Without an official date to begin your new smoke-free life, you will constantly keep pushing it back. Try and choose a date when you will have two or more days off of work. The first 48 hours are critical, so you need to control your environment and eliminate any possible triggers or bad influences.
Have a support group: Quitting is not easy, so you need a support network of people who can encourage and empower you. Do not choose negative minded people. Choose people who are capable of making you feel good about your efforts and accomplishments.
Change your habits: Think about when you smoke the most and make plans to do things differently at those times of day. If you usually smoke on your drive to work, maybe take transit for a while. If you smoke right after dinner, then get up after your meal and go take a shower. Do things that you do not associate with smoking.
Hang out with non-smokers: It is extremely difficult to stop smoking completely if you are constantly around it. You don’t have to cut out your smoker friends completely, but during the first few weeks, try to spend more time with your non-smoker friends. Watch what they do instead of smoking and try to establish some of their habits.
Brush your teeth more: Bring a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste everywhere you go. When you feel the urge to light a cigarette, go brush your teeth instead of smoking. You should brush until the urge goes away. Typically the urge to smoke will be strong for about two minutes, and then it will begin to wane.
Change your diet: Most people who smoke will tell you that coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages all seem to make cigarettes taste better. While you are trying to quit smoking, increase the amount of water you drink and decrease the amount of beverages that you think make cigarettes taste better.
Work out: When you increase your activity you can decrease your desire to smoke. Add exercise into your daily routine by starting to walk, run or jog. With the Spring weather in the air, it’s the perfect time to nix your habit and get active!