Although you probably know that smoking is bad for you, the urge to smoke is often so strong that it’s easy to put this knowledge aside and have another cigarette. Understanding why smoking is so bad for you and why it’s addictive may just help you to stop smoking for good.
Every year, around five million people worldwide die from tobacco use.
Read more about smoking and your health below.
Published by Bupa's Health Information Team, December 2010.
What’s in a cigarette?Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals. Take a look at the list below, and see where you would usually expect to find them.
|Chemical||Usually found in|
|| Paint stripper or nail polish remover
|| Cleaning fluids
|| Lighter fluid
|| Car exhaust
|| Rocket fuel
|| Moth balls
|| Wood varnish
|| Industrial solvent
| Vinyl chloride
Cigarettes also contain tar. If you smoke, over two-thirds of the tar from your cigarettes is left behind in your lungs.
What do I gain from stopping smoking?You may already know that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. But it can play a part in causing up to 50 different diseases and health problems, from osteoporosis to impotence and infertility. It can also affect your baby if you smoke while you’re pregnant.
Cutting out the cigarettes can really improve your health by helping you to:
- look better – smoking causes grey, wrinkled and damaged skin
- enjoy the taste of food and drink more
- improve your fertility and sexual function
- have healthier teeth and gums – smoking causes bad breath, yellowing of teeth and increases your risk of gum disease
- increase your energy levels and help you to exercise for longer
But it’s not just the health benefits – stopping smoking can also have a positive effect on your wallet.
Getting help to stop smokingStopping smoking is no mean feat, but you may find it easier if you have support, even if it’s just encouragement from your friends and family. If you have a friend who’s also thinking about stopping smoking, you could help each other.
There’s good evidence to show that using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), or the stop smoking medicines bupropion or varenicline can help you to successfully stop smoking. All these treatments have been shown to be much more effective if used in combination with support from a trained stop smoking adviser. These treatments will make it easier and more likely that you’ll succeed when you stop smoking, but you will also need to use some willpower.
Availability and use of different treatments may vary from country to country. Ask your doctor for advice on your treatment options.
Planning to stop smokingThere’s no easy way to stop smoking, but you can make it easier by being prepared.
- Understand why and when you smoke. Why not try keeping a diary for a week, jotting down when you smoke, where you are, who you’re with and how you felt before and after smoking. This will help you to spot patterns, triggers or habits.
- Set a target date for stopping. Although gradually cutting down works for some people, experts believe it’s best to commit to a date and then give up completely.
- Write down how you plan to deal with anything that usually triggers you to reach for a cigarette. For example, if you usually have a cigarette with your cup of tea, why not eat an apple instead.
- Get rid of all your smoking related items – ashtrays, lighters, the lot.
- Get support from your friends, family and professional services.