TEN WAYS TO FREE YOURSELF FROM NICOTINE
Smoking is the second cause of death globally.
These are all preventable deaths and yet not enough is being done.
Unfortunately, resources are wrongly diverted towards health problems that present a much lower burden of disease such as covid19.
“Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.”
Top 10 countries with the highest smoking rates:
Nauru - 52.1%
Kiribati - 52%
Tuvalu - 48.7%
Myanmar - 45.5%
Chile - 44.7%
Lebanon - 42.6%
Serbia - 40.6%
Bangladesh - 39.1%
Greece - 39.1%
Bulgaria - 38.9%
“Over 80% of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries”
Tobacco companies taking advantage of lax regulations
Economic distress leading to higher stress levels
So What can we do to reduce smoking?
“Evidence indicates that the combined use of both behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapies produces the largest cessation effects”
Behavioural interventions include:
Counselling (to deal with the issues that lead to smoking)
self‐help materials on how to quit smoking
Stress management techniques
Social support groups
nicotine patches, gum and inhalers. These help taper off the nicotine addiction and reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
Some health agencies recommend (Vaping starter kit) the use of vapes to quit smoking as it contains less harmful substances than cigarettes (vapes contain propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and nicotine) and allows for the control of nicotine level by selecting different strength cartridges.
I completely disagree with this recommendation and think that such recommendations may be the result of the lobbying of the vaping industry as it creates a niche market for them.
Here’s why I oppose Vaping as a substitute for cigarettes:
People end up shifting from one addiction to another.
the hand-to-mouth action
the association between smoking and socialising
the puffing of air as a stress relieving exercise
We don’t know the long term effects of propylene glycol.
“the consequences of propylene glycol and glycerol inhalation remain unknown despite worldwide availability of e-cigarettes. Earlier reports indicated increased upper airway symptoms and lower lung functions for entertainment workers chronically exposed to theatrical fogs, composed of propylene glycol and other glycols”
“However, propylene glycol can affect mucociliary clearance and both propylene glycol and glycerol affect the pulmonary expression of genes regulating the circadian rhythm, suggesting these two compounds could change the normal and optimal pulmonary response to pathogens, irritants and allergens.”
Nicotine is highly addictive and very harmful.
It increases the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders decreases immune response
impacts reproductive health negatively
causes oxidative stress & cell death
Contributes to DNA mutation & cancer
Public health policies
Over the decades several public health policies have been implemented to reduce smoking:
Health education campaigns about the harms of smoking
Banning smoking advertising
Adding warning labels on cigarette boxes (use of fear)
Increasing prices through taxation, increased insurance premium for smokers (financial disincentive)
Increasing the age limit, limiting availability to certain shops, banning online sale (reducing access)
Restricting smoking in closed public spaces (inconvenience)
Encouraging smoking cessation programs in colleges and workplaces workplace (social support)
Public and private insurance financing of smoking cessation programs
A lot has been done
“Declines have been largest in the higher sociodemographic countries, falling by more than 40% in some high-income countries, and also in several Latin American countries, notably Brazil, where prevalence has fallen by 70% since 1990.”
In the UK, for example, the trend is promising…
But more needs to be done.
using nicotine patches to taper off the nicotine
healthy substitute for the hand-to-mouth action
Remind yourself of the benefits of quitting smoking
List your personal reasons for quitting smoking.
Starting a holistic lifestyle change: eating healthy and exercising. Set your goals to change your life. Goal setting helps create a vision for your future that you can more easily follow.
Use emotional regulation techniques to reduce your stress while quitting
Try massage, nature walks, yoga, breathing exercises, prayer, meditation... whatever works for you…
Remember that cravings may last 15-20 min. Make sure you have a list of options you can do to survive each craving.
The toughest period is the first two weeks. (The nicotine clears out of your body within the first week) Make sure you do this during a low stress period such as during holidays (unless you are stressed by family holidays)
Finding a social support group to get you through the tough times- friends who will join you on your journey and keep you strong when you are feeling weak. (Don’t hang around friends who smoke or ask them not to smoke in your presence). Enlist a go-to-friend to help you through cravings.
Quitting smoking and vaping is not easy. But does anything worthwhile come easy in life? And is there anything more worth your effort and commitment than your health and your life? It’s in your hands.
Thanks for reading Abir Ballan Uncensored! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
About the author
Abir Ballan has a Masters in Public Health, a graduate degree in special needs education and a BA in psychology. She is a children’s author with 27 published books.