While smoking seen as a relaxing habit for many & something donned by cultural icons through film & song, smoking does more harm to the body than good. With COVID-19 dominating the news & many of its ill effects associated directly to poor respiratory health, it becomes even more important to quit smoking.
Read what our expert has to say about the damage caused by smoking & the benefits of quitting this habit once & for all.
So, why is smoking NOT cool?
Smoking is a fatally dangerous habit that not only affects the smoker, but also the lives of his or her family through second-hand & third-hand smoking. According to Tobacco Atlas, every year 2900 people in the UAE are killed by tobacco-caused disease due to smoking.
Second-hand smoking is the smoke others in the vicinity are exposed to when a smoker smokes. Third hand smoking on the other hand is residual nicotine & other products that remain behind in a room when a smoker leaves the room, resulting in exposure to smoke to whoever enters the room next.
A smoker may feel that ‘’kick’’ after a quick puff, but the smoker may not know that apart from this short-term euphoric sensation, smoking can also cause cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), etc. Smoking can also increase the risk of tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis & certain eye diseases.
Children too can be affected by exposure to smoke resulting in an increased risk of severe asthma, slowed lung growth, respiratory infections & even sudden death syndrome.
Is there a link between COVID-19 & Smoking? In what way?
Tobacco smoking may make an individual more vulnerable to COVID-19, as the act of smoking involves contact of fingers & contaminated cigarettes with the lips, increasing the chances of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. Smoking a shisha or hookah, involves sharing of pipes or mouthpieces, which too increases the possibility of spreading this disease. Experts have also pointed out through various observational studies that, smokers constituted a large percentage of adults hospitalized due to COVID-19.
The Benefits of QUITTING Smoking Are Many, Here Are Some of Them…
The day you decide to stub the butt & continue doing so, you set yourself & your body on the path to recovery, which may take time. Yet, the benefits are plenty. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of cancers linked to the stomach, pancreas, liver, cervix, colon, rectum, etc.
Kicking this bad habit also lowers your risk of diabetes, helps your heart & lungs & ensures that your blood vessels are working properly.
Quitting smoking earlier i.e. before the age of 40 means that the chances of an individual being affected with health issues associated with tobacco become significantly lower. Yet quitting smoking at any age only adds years to your life, which smoking would otherwise have taken away!
Some of the benefits of quitting smoking are almost instantaneous you will begin to realise that food tastes better, your sense of smell has normalised, your mouth, hair & clothes do not reek, teeth & fingernails stop yellowing, doing ordinary housework does not leave one breathless & in women menstrual cycles become more regular. Most importantly you will ensure that that the lives of your loved ones are safe & healthy in the years to come, by just giving up this one bad habit.
So, what are the steps to QUITTING smoking & living smoke-free once again?
Quitting smoking is hard & especially if you have been doing so for years. It might have been your new year’s resolution which you stopped midway, but then again it is never too late to re-start. With the benefits giving up smoking has on your life, here are some steps you can take to quit this habit for good.
Many smokers have found success in quitting smoking by simply going cold turkey, however many have adopted a personal quitting smoking plan. Firstly, speak to your doctor & together determine what kind of smoker you are. Are you a social or heavy smoker? Are there certain people, places, or activities you associate with smoking such as friends, bars & restaurants or after a tough meeting? Do you smoke only when stressed or when having an alcoholic drink?
Once you identify your triggers, set a start date to plan to quit. Once this is done, work your way to get rid of the triggers such as consuming a fruit, healthy dessert, stick of gum or some chocolate instead of a cigarette after a meal, avoid places or individuals who remind you of the habit as much as possible, switch to non-alcoholic drinks if alcohol is a trigger, etc. Stress causing you to smoke? Try meditating, exercising or simple breathing exercises instead.
How do I deal with Nicotine Withdrawal or Help a Loved One Cope?
You will notice that once you or your loved one quits smoking, nicotine withdrawal is common such as cigarette cravings, anxiety, headaches, increased appetites, fatigue, depression, etc. Remember that, as irritable as these symptoms might be, they are only temporary. Seek support from your friends & family, tell them about you quitting smoking & help them understand that you will not be your usual self.
If you know a loved one planning to quit provide all the encouragement & support they may need during this revival phase.
Here are some handy tips to remember while battling nicotine withdrawal – distract yourself, remind yourself why you quit, get out of a tempting situation & reward yourself every time you overcome a craving to smoke!
Speaking to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine medicine could also help in your journey to stay healthy. Listen to uplifting music or podcasts, eat healthily & mindfully, add in some antioxidant supplements to counteract the effect of free radicals in your body due to smoking, drink water, going for a walk or with your pet, etc. can also help combat weight-gain that may arise due to giving up smoking.
Dr. Sandeep Pargi,
Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai & Aster Hospital, Mankhool