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Addiction - Tobacco

Smoking - how to stop

Why Tobacco is a Habit Forming Drug

If you or anyone close to you smokes cigarettes, you are probably well aware that smoking is a habit, and one that takes some effort to break. Through inhalation the chemical components of cigarettes are injected into your lungs, your bloodstream and then your brain. Learning some of the facts about tobacco may encourage you to break the habit so that you can lead a healthier life.

Nicotine Is Habit Forming

Nicotine, one of the main chemical components of tobacco, is a habit-forming drug that draws the smoker into both a physical and a psychological partnership with cigarettes. Once he or she has learned the mechanics of smoking - and it definitely is an acquired technique taking conscious effort on the part of the novice smoker the smoker may begin to rely on cigarettes for what he believes to be stimulation, relaxation or stress relief. The body becomes chemically addicted to nicotine and the more one smokes, the more difficult it is to quit.

More Chemicals

The average cigarette generally contains about 8.4 milligrams of nicotine and 15 milligrams of tar. Tobacco smoke also contains as many as 4,000 other naturally occurring gases, particles, and compounds including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, traces of arsenic and carcinogens.

Other Sources of Nicotine

Cigarettes are considered the most harmful form of tobacco use because cigarette smokers usually inhale deeply. But pipes and cigars hold risks of nicotine addiction as well. Chewing tobacco and snuff can also cause cancer, gum disease and erosion of the teeth.

Physical Effects

When inhaled, nicotine stimulates the central nervous system. All of the chemicals in a cigarette move through the bloodstream to the brain in eight seconds, causing a sharp rise in blood pressure and heart rate, constricting the blood vessels, and reducing sensitivity to pain and stress.

Chronic smokers often have impaired senses of taste and smell, less physical stamina, and a poorer execution of motor tasks. Smoking is among the major causes of heart disease and lung cancer and is the primary cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

A smoker's skin ages and wrinkles prematurely and female smokers have a higher incidence of unsuccessful pregnancies, stillbirths and lower weight babies. Smoking reduces the sperm count in men and because of the effects on circulation can affect erections.

The facts on how smoking can affect health are well known and recently a lot of concern has been expressed on the effects of passive smoking; that is the breathing in of tobacco smoke by non-smokers. To give you some idea of the effects of smoking here is some information for you to consider:

Companion Habits

As you become more physically addicted to tobacco, you will develop other habits that reinforce the role of cigarettes in your daily routine. You may not even realise this is happening. A cup of coffee may trigger a move towards a cigarette.

You may light up before you begin a phone conversation or before starting your car. These become similar to conditioned reflexes and show that the physical and psychological go hand in hand in promoting and furthering addiction.

Many people are already aware of these facts but the problem remains - How do I give up?

Giving up smoking

Early in the year thoughts often go towards making New Year Resolutions. Many smokers go through the annual ritual of giving up smoking, only to start again as soon as the bills start popping through the letterbox.

Tips for giving up smoking

1. Prepare yourself
Think about when and where you usually have a cigarette. Once you have stopped smoking, these times and places are going to be the danger spots, so work out now how you are going to deal with them.

Plan to change your routine, or to keep yourself busy, so that you avoid the situations where you are most likely to smoke. You will not have to change your routine for ever -just for a few weeks until you find it easier to cope with the urge to smoke.

2. Pick a day
Set a target day for giving up. Make it a day when you will not be under too much stress. It is not always easy to find a good time, but make it soon.

3. Stop
Give up. On your 'Give up day' just stop. Do not smoke any cigarettes.

4. Stay stopped
Take one day at a time. Every day without a cigarette is another success. Replace your cigarettes with a treat for yourself with the money you have saved. What if I have tried to give up before and failed? Here it is important for you to look at:

Think carefully about what you can do this time to avoid the situations which made it hard to give up before.

Remember - every day without a cigarette is another triumph.

Places to get help

Quit - 0800 002200 (counselling support) www.quitnet.com (information and support)
Ash - 020 77395902 (information and research) www.ash.org (smoking and health)
BBC - Health - www.bbc.co.uk/health

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© Accor Services, 2005

April 2005