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13 Things To Know Before You Quit Smoking

To Know Before You Quit Smoking

Gagan Dhillon  

 


1. If you are one of the 100 million adult smokers in India and are planning to quit, consider professional help. "Medical supervision has a success rate of up to 60-65 per cent," says Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, clinical director, Max Healthcare, Gurugram. You may avoid becoming part of this Indian statistic: the 1 million deaths per year associated with smoking.

 

2. It is never too late to quit: After the first 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. In 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood normalize. A year later, the risk of heart disease is half of those who smoke. In five years, the risk of mouth and throat cancer is similarly reduced. If you quit before the age of 40, the risk of dying from a smoking-related disease reduces by 90 per cent.

 

3. The treatment is a mix of nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). "Starting with a nicotine dependence evaluation, we fix dosage for nicotine patches, gums or lozenges (coming soon to India)," says Budhiraja.

 

4. The first two months are crucial. Experts say the worst withdrawal symptoms appear in the first two weeks when relapses are high. "The right kind of support makes it easier to sail past weeks four and six," says Budhiraja.

 

5. Identify your triggers and change your environment -- take a walk or chew gum -- to stay clean. A quitting buddy helps strengthen your resolve. CBT can also help you and your family with coping skills.

 

6. Of the 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes, nicotine is the most addictive. Its withdrawal influences your mood, well-being, appetite, concentration and even memory.

 

7. Medication under the non-nicotine treatment stimulates the part of the brain that gets activated when you smoke, helping with withdrawals while also blocking receptors so that the pleasure of smoking is reduced.

 

8. In India, 55 per cent women smoke their first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up. The percentage of daily smokers who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day is higher among women than men in India.

 

9. Studies show that the consequences of smoking are greater for women than men. The risk of dying from lung cancer for women is 17.8 times, whereas for men it is 14.6 times.

 

10. Smoking at home when children are not around is just as harmful, as tobacco sticks to surfaces. A study found traces of nicotine on the hands of children who came in contact with surfaces contaminated with tobacco smoke. It linked significant levels of nicotine on children's hands to equal levels of cotinine (a tobacco metabolite) in their saliva, indicating passive smoking.

 

11. E-cigarettes may not help. The odds of quitting were 28 per cent lower among smokers who switched to e-cigarettes. Moreover, flavoured e-cigarettes contain diacetyl, a chemical that damages tiny airways in the lungs permanently.

 

12. Ensure you eat healthy, stay hydrated and exercise. This will keep your energy levels balanced, preventing a dip in your blood sugar levels -- a common trigger.

 

13. Seek out support groups on Whyquit.com or nhp.gov.in/quit-tobacco, or apps like Butt Out, Craving to Quit or Livestrong. Some of them offer a personalized plan, others provide motivation by tracking the money saved.

 

Sources: BMJ Global Health (1998 to 2015); American Cancer Society (2016); Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2008-2013); New England Journal of Medicine (2013); BMJ Tobacco Control (2017); Lancet (2016); Stat/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2015); Environmental Health Perspective (2016).

 

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