Smoking Cessation Time Line

I was surfing the web recently and came across the image below from the BeTobaccoFree.Gov website that shows how much time it takes to get healthier if you give up smoking and the improvement in your health over the following years.

What I found interesting was the immediate and mid-term improvements.  For example :-

20 Minutes

Your heart rate and blood pressure start to return to normal. You will feel more sensations in your hands and your legs. Your body will slowly start to clean itself from the nicotine, which can make you crave for another cigarette, but try and be persistent.

12 Hours

You inhale carbon monoxide when tobacco is burning and that bonds with your blood cells.  This in turn prevents oxygen bonding to your blood cells and can cause dangerous cardiovascular diseases.

You can cut that level of carbon monoxide in your blood back to normal by not smoking for 12 hours. Your oxygen levels will start to return to normal.

3 Months

Your respiratory system will start to get back to normal and you will start breathing more easily again. After three months of not smoking taking larger, deeper breaths becomes easier.

Microscopic hairs, called cilia, are found along your air passages and move in a sweeping motion to keep the air passages clean. But if harmful substances, such as cigarette smoke, are inhaled, the cilia stop functioning properly, causing health problems like bronchitis.  These cilia will repair and start to function normally again.

Within 9 Months

Your cough will start to drastically reduce, although when and by how much depends on how long you’ve been smoking as the lungs slowly continue to clean themselves and get rid of toxins.  As a result, you can be more physically active and you can start to do some cardio exercises without getting short of breath.

1 Year

Your risk of coronary heart disease is cut by a massive 50% !

As you can see from the infographic, some of the benefits of stopping smoking can be felt very quickly while other can take much longer – so the sooner you give up smoking the sooner you will be on the road to a healthier life.  What’s stopping you making the initial step on that path?

The Effects of Smoking

Smoking has many serious effects for your health and is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the world. In the UK, over 80,000 people die from smoking-related problems every year. If you smoke or are thinking of smoking, you should take the time to consider what smoking does to your body.

Cancer
In addition to the addictive nicotine, cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals. So far, around 70 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Lung cancer is the most common kind of cancer to develop from smoking, but smoking can also lead to cancer in the mouth, throat, nose, stomach, colon, and many other parts of the body.

Respiratory System
In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause many other problems for your respiratory system. In a very short time, smoking can lead to frequent coughing, colds, wheezing, and asthma. It can also lead to more serious conditions such as emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic bronchitis. In addition, smoking greatly increases your risk for potentially fatal diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Heart and Circulation
The toxins entering your body from smoking damage both your heart and your blood cells. Smoking will make your blood thicker, increasing the risk of clots. It also increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure, and shrinks your arteries. These effects greatly increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers.

Bones
Smoking has been shown to lead to decreased bone density over time. This is a significant factor in leading to bone loss, in addition to weaker bones that are more likely to fracture and break. Women who smoke are at a much higher risk of getting osteoporosis.

Fertility
For men, smoking can lead to a lower sperm count. It can also cause damage to the blood vessels that carry blood to the penis, leading to impotence. In women, smoking has been shown to cause irregular menstrual cycles and lower fertility. On average, couples in which at least one partner smokes take significantly longer to conceive a child than couples who do not smoke.

These are only some of the harmful effects of smoking. Other side effects include gum disease, premature aging, wrinkles, increased risk of ulcers, weakened immune system, higher risk of diabetes, and cataracts.

How to Quit Smoking

Advice to help you break the smoking habit and stay on track

You already know that smoking has many negative effects on your health. Quitting, however, can be extremely difficult. Whether you’ve started smoking recently or have been smoking for decades, cigarettes have likely become both a physical addition and a psychological, social habit.

This makes quitting difficult on multiple levels. With good planning and perseverance, however, quitting is possible. The right quitting plan is different for everyone, and your doctor is the best person to advise you on the best individualized treatment. These tips are meant as a general guide to help you quit successfully.

Step 1: Make a Plan

Planning ahead can help to make your efforts to quit more effective. First, pick date as your “quit date.” Ideally, choose something 1-3 weeks in the future: enough to give you time to prepare without losing your motivation. In the intervening time, try to taper down your cigarette use.

This will make the symptoms of withdrawal easier to deal with. You should also use this time to assess the nature of your addiction. Think about what factors are linked to your smoking: is it stress related? Do you smoke in certain places or around certain people? Do you smoke after meals? This awareness will help you avoid temptations when possible and steel yourself to deal with them when they occur.

Step 2: Find a Support System

Having a support system can be very helpful when going through the process of quitting. Tell your family and close friends that you’ll be quitting. They will probably be happy for you and more than willing to be supportive throughout the process. Informing others that you’re quitting will also help to hold you accountable.

If you have other friends who smoke, ask if any of them are interested in quitting together. Quitting with a partner can be a great way to have mutual support. The two of you can even find an alternate activity, such as going for walks, to do together at a time when you would usually be smoking.

Step 3: Improve Your Environment

Removing the temptation to smoke from your nearby environment can go a long way to prevent you from reaching for a cigarette when you feel a craving.

Clean out cigarettes and ashtrays from your home, car, and office. Try giving the carpets, upholstery, and drapes a thorough cleaning as well. Getting rid of the smell of smoke can help you to feel like you’re making a fresh start.

Step 4: Cope with Cravings and Withdrawal

One of the most difficult things about quitting is dealing with cravings and nicotine withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms usually peak a couple of days after you stop smoking.

They differ for everyone, but they will decrease over time. In addition to cravings, withdrawal can cause fatigue, irritability, hunger, and coughing. Make sure to stay hydrated, avoid caffeine in the evening, and stock up on healthy snacks.

Plan out a list of alternate activities for when cravings or stress strike. Walks outside, yoga, working out at the gym, baths, and reading can all help to take your mind off of cravings and relax your body. You may also want to use some form of medication, such as a nicotine patch or nicotine gum. Your doctor can advise you on the best medicine for you and prescribe you something to help you deal with withdrawal while you quit.

Step 5: Get help from the NHS

The NHS offers help and advice through 7 different smoking cessation services – read more about these services here

Benefits of E-Cigarettes

Electronic Cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are becoming increasingly popular. If you’re a smoker, you may be considering switching to them from traditional cigarettes. In fact, e-cigarettes come with a number of benefits that you may want to know about.

What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes look very similar to real cigarettes, made up of a cylindrical tube with a glowing end. But instead of producing smoke, they produce vapour that looks and feels like smoke without all of its detrimental effects. E-cigarettes contain a battery and a heating element that heats up liquid nicotine and any flavourings. The user inhales and exhales vapour produced from the liquid nicotine. e cigarettes come in different sizes and formats including vape pens, shisha pens and vape and box mods.

E-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to normal cigarettes
E-cigarettes are still a new technology, so no long term studies can confirm whether they are better for smokers than traditional cigarettes. What we can say for certain is that they use vapour instead of smoke, which avoids many negative effects.

In particular, the vapour from e-cigarettes is not harmful to bystanders in the way that second-hand smoke is. We believe that e-cigarettes will also reduce the risk for a host of other health problems that come from smoking. The lack of smoke also means that e-cigarettes do not have the unpleasant and clinging smell associated with cigarettes

E-cigarettes make it easier to quit
If you’re looking to quit smoking altogether but have found it difficult to do so, e-cigarettes can be a great halfway step. E-cigarettes can help to stabilize levels of nicotine in the blood and over time reduce the desire to smoke.

E-cigarettes can save you money
Any smoker knows that the cost of buying cigarettes is high. E-cigarettes are not subject to the same taxation as traditional cigarettes, making them much cheaper for consumers.

The cost of buying a starter kit may be comparatively expensive, but over time maintaining e-cigarettes is very cheap, about half the cost of buying packs of cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are allowed in most establishments
E-cigarettes are not regulated by the government the same way that traditional cigarettes are. This means that unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes are allowed within most restaurants and other buildings. They do not produce smoke or odour, so they will not bother the people around you. Using e-cigarettes means that you can smoke without the inconvenience of leaving the building or separating yourself from your friends and family.