Today is World No Tobacco Day—an annual event committed to raising awareness about the health risks associated with tobacco use. In addition, it’s a day dedicated to encouraging government organizations to implement effective policies to decrease smoking and other tobacco use.
Each year, tobacco use kills nearly 6 million people around the world, according to the American Cancer Society. Moreover, second-hand smoke causes nearly 600,000 premature deaths each year. The effects of smoking are not to be taken lightly. It can cause several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and many other health issues.
To help you stop smoking and start living, let’s chat and chew about why you should kick the habit, the health benefits of quitting, and methods for staying smoke-free.
QUIT WITH A PURPOSE
Although quitting smoking has obvious benefits—improves your health, saves money, and keeps loved ones out of harm’s way—the decision is not as black-and-white as it may seem. Finding your reason(s) for quitting may not come to you right away, but once they do, make a list and put it somewhere you know you’ll look every day.
Some of the reasons to become smoke-free include:
- Improve your personal appearance by eliminating such things as stained teeth and fingers, bad breath, coughing, and smoking odor on clothes. Quitting prevents wrinkles as well.
- Get your sense of taste and smell back, feel more energized and active, sleep better, and eliminate ‘smokers cough’ or wheezing.
- Smoking speeds up mental decline and leads to Alzheimer’s disease. The rate of mental decline is up to five times faster in smokers than in nonsmokers.
- Increase productivity—the amount of time you regain will quickly add up!
- Avoid cataracts and increased risk for eye problems. Exposure to cigarette smoke doubles your chances of developing macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
BENEFITS IN A BLINK
Within 20 minutes of your final cigarette, your body begins repairing the damage caused by smoking, according to the CDC. Furthermore, after three days, the nicotine leaves your body. It’s likely you’ll experience symptoms of withdrawal—see examples here—but this means your body is healing. See below for a chart that was published in our 2016 spring newsletter, Compass Connection, highlighting the benefits of quitting smoking.
QUIT ONCE AND FOR ALL
To help ensure you will maintain your new smoke-free lifestyle, try using one of the methods below to overcome cravings and possible relapses once you quit for good.
- Get rid of old cigarette packs, lighters, and ashtrays.
- Avoid caffeine—try drinking water instead.
- Hang out with non-smokers as often as possible.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking lowers your chance of success.
- Create a diet and exercise plan—staying active is a great way to avoid the temptation to light up.
- Get plenty of rest—try relaxation methods and regular exercise to overcome insomnia or sleep issues.
Breaking the habit of smoking is not easy—you can pretty much guarantee challenges along the way. To help dodge any obstacles on your road to recovery—whether emotional, physical, or psychological—frequently remind yourself of the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting. Remember: relapses and mistakes happen. Use these moments as learning experiences to help you develop better coping skills you can use in the future. Smoking is a choice. Don’t overthink it – be smart, don’t start.
As a friendly reminder to Compass Rose Health Plan members, you have access to a FREE Smoking Cessation Program included with your coverage. Learn more at www.compassrosebenefits.com/QuitSmoking.