Check out a few easy steps here!
‘Smoking is injurious to health’, says the cigarette packet itself. It is quite clear to smokers that their habit is harmful but that is not enough for them to quit their habit. That is because most have started smoking or using tobacco in their teenage years and the younger you begin using tobacco, the more challenging it is to quit it.
If you need one more reason why you should quit smoking, listen to this – bidi or cigarette smokers die 6 to 10 years earlier than non-smokers. It is not just smoking that is harmful, chewing tobacco in the form of gutkha, paan masala, khaini, mawa, etc. are equally harmful. Smokeless tobacco kills over 230,000 Indians each year and is responsible for 90% of oral cancers in India.
Altogether, more than a quarter (27%) of all cancers in India are due to tobacco use. Yet, 29% of adults in India use tobacco making it the second leading consumer of tobacco in the world.
If you have thought about quitting tobacco consumption earlier but failed, don’t worry, we give you some tried and tested ways of quitting tobacco backed by evidence. With these measures, you can reliably quit tobacco.
Set a date
After you have decided to quit smoking or chewing tobacco, set a date for quitting. Make sure it is not too far in the future, it can be a special day like your birthday or that of your loved ones or any random day.
Prepare for the day by planning for the triggers for smoking or chewing tobacco–is it post-dinner? During tea-time? Find activities that you can do at those times to distract yourself.
Clear your cigarette or tobacco stash including lighters, ashtrays, etc. before the day comes. Clean your coats, your jackets that have lingering smells of tobacco. Keep substitutes handy like sugarless gums, hard candy, and cinnamon sticks that you can keep in your mouth when you feel like smoking. A squeeze ball can also keep your hand busy which is used to hold a cigarette.
Rather than gradually reducing the number of cigarettes, it has been found that quitting cold turkey is more effective in quitting smoking in various studies.
A study showed, those who quit abruptly had more success (49%) than those who quit smoking gradually (39.2%) after a month. Similarly at six months, those who quit abruptly (22%) had more chances of keeping away from smoking than those who quit gradually (15.5%).
This may not be true for all. It depends on your preference or your age also. In a French retrospective cohort study of more than 62,000 smokers in the national cessation services database, researchers found that older participants more than 45 years of age and heavy smokers (who smoked more than 21 cigarettes per day) were more likely to quit gradually than abruptly.
Ask for support
Make sure you tell your friends, family and colleagues that you have quit smoking or chewing tobacco so that you can rely on their support. Tell them to check up on you and distract you when you feel low. Also tell the friends who smoke, to not smoke around you or offer you a cigarette. It is also a good idea to quit smoking with a friend or a partner so that you can keep encouraging each other and keep each other accountable.
For those for whom willpower alone isn’t enough to quit smoking, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a good option. NRT is available as skin patches, chewing gum, nasal or oral sprays, inhalators, lozenges, or tablets. These are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms that come with stopping smoking by releasing nicotine in the bloodstream. There is now strong evidence that all forms of NRT improve the person’s attempt to quit smoking by 50-60%. NRT does not require prescription by doctors and is available off the counter in pharmacies.
For those whom NRT also doesn’t work, there are prescription drugs. There are certain drugs like bupropion and varenicline that work by targeting the nicotine receptors in the brain, reducing the pleasure you get from smoking. These drugs improve your chance of sticking to your resolution to quit smoking.
Benefits start immediately
It is never too late to quit tobacco even if you have been using it for a long time. In just 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette, your blood pressure and heart drop, and temperature of your hands and legs increases; in eight hours, your blood has more oxygen and less carbon monoxide; in just 24 hours, your risk for heart attack decreases, says Cleveland Clinic.
In the next couple of months of quitting smoking, your energy levels will increase, and you can tolerate more exercise. Soon, your sinuses will be clear, you can breathe easily and cough less. In a year, your risk for heart disease reduces by half as compared to those who haven’t quit smoking.
Don’t forget, as new research suggests, it may take smokers as many as 30 attempts before they successfully quit smoking so be kind to yourself and don’t give up.