In spite of being considered a great stress buster, there is no denying the fact that smoking causes severe health problems. “The nicotine in cigarettes is addictive and has been observed as one of the toughest addiction to break free from,” says health guru Micky Mehta. Experts tell us the ill effects of smoking and teach ways to get rid of it.
When you smoke excessively
Smoking has negative effects on nearly every organ of the body. “It affects your skin, eyes, throat, lungs, heart and reproductive systems, and makes you less fit,” says Ramraj Yogi, fitness expert and owner of Well N Trim gym.
Mehta adds, “Smoking not only increases the risk of developing many kinds of cancers, but also raises the incidences of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, irregular heart beat or arrhythmia. It also affects the senses of taste and smell, makes you susceptible to respiratory infections and is responsible for premature deaths.”
A week without a cigarette
Stopping smoking can cause severe emotional, physical and physiological disturbance and depression that may make users eventually get back to the habit. “Since the body is used to the nicotine, during the first 72 hours of quitting, the throat feels dry. You tend to binge a lot to overcome the craving. As smoking reduces the oxygen in the body, your body starts getting normal amounts of oxygen once you quit. Due to this, 72 hours after quitting, you might feel dizzy and unfocussed. You might even be constipated as digestion slows down when you quit smoking,” says Yogi.
However, the body begins to function optimally soon after. “Your blood pressure drops to normal and the toxic gases reduce. Also, oxygenation, circulation and energy levels show a marked improvement.”
Benefits of quitting
“Within 20 minutes of giving up, your blood pressure and pulse rate come back to normal. Going 24 hours without smoking also reduces the chances of a heart attack. Within 48 hours of quitting, the nicotine is out of your body. Between two weeks and three months, the overall circulation improves,” explains Yogi. He adds, “Since cigarette smoking is directly linked to coronary heart diseases, one year of no smoking helps prevent any such disease. The risk of any kind of cancer — lung, throat, mouth, kidney and pancreas, decreases.”
Tips to overcome the craving
Shraddha Gadit, nutritionist at Gold’s Gym, shares some pointers on how smoking can be avoided.
Change your routine. If you’re in the habit of smoking after meals, make sure to leave the table as soon as you finish eating.
Minimise the time you would spend with friends or relatives who constantly smoke.
Spend as much time as possible in places where smoking isn’t allowed. Libraries, museums and theatres are just a few examples.
Make your home and car smoke-free zones by asking others not to smoke there.
“Engage in activities like exercises, yoga, meditation and pranayam. This helps give you a clear guided vision, helps to reduce stress and take control of your life,” adds Mehta.
What stops you from quitting
Kannan Nettath, manager and consultant at The Spa & Gym at Taj Lands End, explains why quitting is tough. “Smokers become accustomed to a certain amount of nicotine every day. When their nicotine levels fall below the comfort zone, they may experience cravings and other withdrawal reactions — signals that more nicotine is needed. Only nicotine satisfies these cravings and brings relief,” he says.
“Most people do not smoke because they are addicted or habituated; they smoke because their mind tells them to, thus making it difficult to quit,” Yogi adds.
To help you quit
Nicotine patches or chewing gum and e-cigarettes can help you survive the nicotine withdrawal. Gadit explains how they help. The e-cigarette, or electronic cigarette, works by superheating a cartridge that gives the smoker a dose of nicotine in the form of water vapour. This vapour can be flavored with cherry, chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, and menthol.
Nicotine skin patches and chewing gum provide a source of nicotine that reduces the withdrawal symptoms experienced when smoking is stopped.