I decided seven days ago I was quitting smoking, after spending the last few weeks being kept awake at night by my coughing. I’ve written this seven day series, but condensed it into one, quitting smoking article, for ease of use. It’s my quitting smoking journey, which I hope will help you with yours.
This does make the article a little long (7000+ words), so below is a table of contents should you wish to jump to each section.
Smoking – A Little Background
Day One – Plain Sailing
Day Two – Here Come the Cravings
Day Three – Self-talk Tennis
Day Four – Alter Ego Takeover
Day Five – Realisation
Day Six – Myths About Smoking
Day Seven – 40 Obvious, and Less Obvious, Reasons to Quit Smoking
Apparently if you make it through the first seven days, the chances of success multiply by a factor of nine? (Well that’s what the nicotine patch TV ads are stating) I’m unsure as to the validity of these numbers and would appreciate comments on this.
Smoking – A Little Background
I’ve been an active smoker for 38 years, starting at the age of 9 years old. Smoking was made much easier for me as a youngster, as my parents allowed me to smoke in our family home from the age of 12. Both my parents we’re smokers, back in the 1970’s smoking wasn’t seen as the purveyor of death and disgust, as it is today.
I was caught smoking so many times as a kid, that I guess my parents thought it would be easier if they allowed me to smoke in the house.
On average, at the time of stopping smoking, I am smoking between 15 and 20 cigarettes per day. This figure might increase in certain situations like socialising, or might decrease if I was busy working for example. But on average, 15 to 20 a day is my norm.
The number of cigarettes I have smoked daily, has fluctuated over the years. I have smoked as many as 50 a day at certain times of my life, and as little as 10 a day at other times.
I have stopped smoking once before, and this lasted for three months. I didn’t use any nicotine replacement therapies, and I won’t be using any this time.
Why No Patches?
The reason for this is simple; replacing the nicotine you are losing from stopping smoking is pointless! This is only my opinion.
The physical withdrawal symptoms from nicotine (the addictive element of tobacco) are virtually non-existent. Think about it, if you’re a smoker, is the very first thing you think about when you wake, a cigarette?
I have asked this question to many people, and some say cigarettes are the first thing they think about when they wake up. But I mean the moment you open your eyes, the very first moment you become aware you are awake, and are back on planet earth, and I also mean every day.
If at that moment each day, the first thing you think of are cigarettes then you must have it bad. I am yet to find a person, who every day wakes up and before any other thought has passed through their mind, they think of cigarettes.
It may be one of the things you think about when you start to go over your routine for the day. But my point is, if you suffered physical withdrawal symptoms from nicotine it would be the first thing you thought about when waking, after you had slept for 6-8 hours without a cigarette.
Ask any addict who is addicted to a substance which exhibits physical withdrawal symptoms, like heroin, benzodiazepines or alcohol. The first thing they think about as their eyes open is their drug of choice. Why? because the physical withdrawal symptoms are present at the time of waking, the withdrawal symptoms may even be the reason the person has awoken.
Personally, I feel nicotine replacement has no benefit, it will not stop any ensuing cravings as they are psychological, not physical. If you feel nicotine replacement will help you then go ahead and give it a go, but remember you’re prolonging your addiction to nicotine.
Day One – Plain Sailing
I woke up today feeling positive, determined and excited about becoming a non-smoker. I decided I wasn’t going to make any plans regarding my quitting smoking. I thought that as I was going to be logging and writing about this I would allow whatever thoughts and feelings come my way to manifest, and deal with them as they appear.
Showered, shaved, and make a cup of tea (caffeine, another substance I will tackle at a later date) and this is usually when I would be going into the garden for my first cigarette. No cravings as yet, although I am highly aware of the fact I am NOT smoking. My feelings are more about noticing I am consciously breaking my routine, kind of feels like I am forcing the issue. That’s fine though, I can deal with that, so I skip the garden part and move on to the next part of my routine.
I skipped breakfast, so I’ve just had an early lunch, and I would usually smoke within five minutes of eating, and this feels like the first real craving for a cigarette. It soon passes as I know cravings last only around two minutes on average. I wonder if following through with my routine, and going out into the garden, as if I was about to smoke would help. I go into the garden and stand around for 5 minutes as I would when smoking, I notice the fresh air and the fact I can breathe more deeply.
I suppose if anything the 5 minutes in the garden has taken my mind off smoking, and as soon as I venture back into the house, thoughts of cigarettes have disappeared.
I’ve been working all day and usually I would have to consciously make time to have a cigarette. I usually think “after this paragraph or after I’ve sent this email I’ll go out for a cig” I didn’t have to do that today. I became aware that I hadn’t smoked, then I remembered I no longer smoked, and then just forgot about it, my productivity has most certainly increased.
Was out in the car and this is a time I usually smoke while listening to some tunes. Felt a slight craving, some empty cigarette boxes in the door well of the car, may have acted as triggers, not sure. Got rid of them anyway just to be on the safe side, and found some chewing gum in the car, not nicotine gum, just normal Wrigley’s Extra, seemed to do the trick, forgot about my craving and carried on as normal.
Had my evening meal and spent the evening with my partner. We watched a movie together and I probably had no more than two cravings, this was due to set times in the evening when I used to smoke, one after my evening meal and one later on. The cravings lasted a little longer after my meal, probably a full two minutes.
I vocalised the fact I felt like smoking, and had a conversation which took my mind off wanting a cigarette.
I focused on the fact I now felt it was easier breathing, and worked out with my partner how much I had spent over the last 38 years on cigarettes. The very conservative figure we came up with was £83,220 that’s pounds sterling, that’s over $106,596 in US Dollars, maybe not quite enough to buy a house, but certainly a couple of nice cars. Staggering!
Remembering the reasons you stopped smoking in the first place, can help when cravings start, pointing out the many ‘negatives’ of smoking also helps. Although money wasn’t the main motivating factor for me to stop smoking, it certainly plays a part when you realise how much you spend over the years.
I went to bed a little earlier than usual, and there were no cravings at all, nor were there any immediately prior to going to bed, which surprised me, as I always have a cigarette before going upstairs to bed. I read for a little over an hour and went to sleep. I had no trouble sleeping and can report none of the nightmares nicotine replacement users’ state they experience.
Although I did have a dream about George Clooney, which I’m not associating with quitting smoking, and no, the dream wasn’t of a sexual nature!
What have I learned on my first day as a non-smoker, well I’ve learned that most of my cravings come from triggers to smoke after eating and set times when I was used to smoking, like in the car, but the cravings have been a lot easier to deal with than I imagined they would be today. It’s also interesting that I had no cravings prior to bedtime, this has surprised me. I’m wondering if once the novelty of being newly smoke free wears off, it will become more difficult, let’s see.
Day Two – Here Come the Cravings
Wow, I’ve just read that going ‘cold turkey’ from nicotine further reduces your chances of success from quitting smoking cigarettes. Apparently, success rates for this method of quitting smoking are only in the region of 4% to 7%. Great, I like slim odds!
I woke up today feeling energised and my mood was elevated beyond its normal post slumber state. I have a bounce in my step and I honestly feel healthier, I haven’t been coughing and I’ve noticed the dark rings under my eyes have become lighter! After two days of not smoking.
Surely I’m imagining this healthier me, I’m conscious I’ve stopped smoking, so maybe it’s just psychosomatic.
Although I’m sure some of the 4000+ chemicals in the smoke of a cigarette could have been responsible for the dark rings under my eyes, I’m also aware that more oxygen is now being carried to the blood vessels in my face, which can reduce dark rings under the eyes.
So, I’m not imagining it, I really am seeing the benefits of quitting smoking already, sweet!
I talked a lot about cravings yesterday and I’m going to be talking more about them today, as day two saw cravings to smoke come thick and fast for me, lasting a good 2 -3 minutes each time, and increasing with frequency as the day went on.
What is a craving? Cravings are often sudden, very intense impulsive urges, which can dominate your thoughts and thought processes, altering your mood and making you feel you want the substance you are craving.
Cravings can be triggered by associations, or come straight out of the blue, meal times for me today have triggered my impulse to smoke a cigarette, as well as drinking tea. I can’t stop eating meals but I can reduce the amount of tea I drink, reducing the possibility of triggers occurring.
I’ve also had many more cravings come ‘out of the blue’ than yesterday (day 1), and these increased as the day went on.
If I am to succeed, and remain a non-smoker, I must have a strategy to control these cravings when they lurch from leftfield.
This is how I achieve it:
I never give the craving any mentally significant importance, I know they are a reality, but that’s as far as it goes. I recognise cravings are a passing phase and don’t give them much energy when they surface.
As I’m aware that cravings are a reality I make sure I have a ready supply of mints, chewing gum (not nicotine gum), fruits and vegetables at the ready, to nibble on should I feel the need, I personally love raw cabbage.
Keep my self-talk positive, and keep repeating that the cravings will pass should they arise. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques also help me, if the craving is particularly strong and distracting.
I also want to keep these cravings in perspective, they’re not cravings you would associate with physically, like heroin or alcohol addiction, they are very mild and very controllable in comparison, but also very psychological.
But day two has been all about the cravings for me, and I also experienced a little insomnia coupled with cravings, which was a little annoying but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I’m really noticing my improved breathing today too, I usually have a good ole cough when I awake and one prior to bed, and I’ve not had to cough at all today.
So in summary, day two was one of increased feelings of health and wellbeing, coupled with increased frequency and length of cravings, a fair exchange if you ask me. I’m still very happy that I decided to stop smoking, and I’m remaining positive about staying nicotine free. Bring on day 3!
Day Three – Self-talk Tennis
Today started a little groggier than yesterday morning, I didn’t wake up full of the joys of spring. I had a little insomnia last night, coupled with cravings for a cigarette, so I didn’t get to sleep until 4am, and was up at 9am.
Once I was up and about, I felt good, and didn’t really think about a cigarette for a good hour after waking, which was positive.
The cravings seemed to be on par with day two’s, in terms of length, frequency and severity. I spent a lot of my time at the computer working today, a welcome distraction from the cravings.
I find it much easier when I’m working, to quell the onslaught of any impending craving for the dreaded NIC-O-TINE, with a click here, and a click there, before I know it, I’ve forgotten all about the craving, until the next one sticks its unwelcome nose over the parapet.
There have been a couple of times today, when I’ve seriously considered smoking a cigarette. I allowed myself to get into the ‘just one wouldn’t hurt’ mentality, and of course, as soon as I allowed that thought to run amuck through my tiny nicotine starved monkey mind, the cravings intensified.
My Alter Egos
There’s a constant chatter going on inside my head at the moment, I have two six-inch miniature versions of me, one on each shoulder, one’s called Red, and the others called Pure. Red’s dressed in a shiny red latex outfit, with a tail and a red pitch fork, little horns and a beetroot face.
This doppelganger is the one responsible for whispering comments in my ear, such as, “What harm can one cigarette do”? And “If you have just one cig, that doesn’t mean you’re going to start smoking again, now does it, muhahahaha?”
The other doppelganger, Pure, is sat glowing in a white gown, sporting a golden halo, and is doing a fine job at counteracting ‘Red’s’ insidious luring, whispering comments like “You’re better than that Milo, why would you listen to a six inch miniature version of yourself with a face as red as beetroot, he looks like he’s about to croak from high blood pressure, ignore him and stay on the path of abstinence, you’re doing great”.
Okay, maybe I’m starting to sound a little schizophrenic, but this self-talk tennis is getting a little tedious now. I know the negatives of continuing smoking cigarettes, I know the possible health implications should I carry on, I know I’m effectively buying the CEO of a cigarette company a holiday home in Mauritius in my lifetime. I know all this, so why do I still want a cigarette?
Habit or Addiction or Both
It’s habit, right? I need a cigarette because I’m used to smoking, and have done so for 38 years, it’s simply a habit I need to break. Nope it’s not a habit, I’ve been hopelessly addicted to this foul weed for most of my life, and no matter what my red latex side tells me, I have to get through today, then tomorrow, one day at a time. I don’t know anymore, I’m confused, one thing I do know is, I’m an addict!
I remember what I wrote yesterday, “I never give the craving any mentally significant importance” well what a load of bollocks that was, I’m giving the cravings plenty of significant importance today, what’s changed! I feel like I’m going a little crazy, trying to piece all this together, and make sense of it all.
I Give Up
There’s an emptiness inside me, a void that needs to be filled. I’m feeling agitated, insecure, nervous and irritable. I’m not sure I can do this anymore; I think there’s only one way to solve this, let my alter egos Red and Pure fight this out to the death, I’m going to hand over to them tomorrow for day four of this series, winner takes all, let the battle commence
Day Four – Alter Ego Takeover
Red: So the quitter has handed the quitting smoking series over to me huh! It’s only a matter of time now before my magic works, and he’s back on twenty a day. He’s weak, and highly suggestible, I’ll have him smoking again before the day is out.
Pure: Erm excuse me, the quitting smoking series has not been handed over to YOU, it’s been handed over to the both of us, so between us we can sort this mind chatter out. I have every faith in Milo remaining nicotine free.
Meanwhile Inside Milo’s Mind
Red: C’mon there’s no problem with us having the odd cigarette now and again, we’re strong, and we can use our will power to become a social smoker, just smoke when we go out, or have friends round.
Pure: Becoming a social smoker is not the way to go Red, if we give in, and smoke occasionally, what’s stopping us getting our twenty a day habit back?
Red: You’re no fun Pure
Pure: Kiss it Red
Red: That sense of emptiness we’re feeling can be gone, just one cigarette will take those feelings of insecurity, agitation and irritability away in a few seconds. We’ve done well not smoking, and putting up with those feelings, but we don’t have to anymore, the shop is still open, go buy us a packet of twenty.
Pure: That sense of emptiness will soon be gone without ever buying another cigarette, along with the feelings of insecurity, agitation and irritability. It’s just a matter of time, and we will be feeling healthier and all those negative emotions will have disappeared. The nicotine monster will soon be deceased, and we can get back to feeling great.
Red: Having a little treat won’t do us any harm. Having just one cigarette as a treat, will give us the boost we need, to continue with our non-smoking quest.
Pure: Just one cigarette doesn’t exist! Taking this tact will land us in only one place, the one place we’re trying to escape from.
Red: The next time we see a friend smoking, we’re going to remember how satisfying smoking was and we’ll envy them, we’ll feel deprived, so we may as well just carry on smoking.
Pure: Seeing others smoking may be a challenge, but if we get our thought processes straight now, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. We should remember it’s the smoker who is being deprived of better health, energy and money, that’s nothing to envy.
Red: You have a positive answer for everything, don’t you Pure.
Pure: Of course, Red, that’s my job; to light up the dark places you dwell in.
Red: We could always have a secret smoke in private, when no one else is around, then who’d know?
Pure: Red, your ideas are now scraping the bottom of the barrel; we would lose all self-respect if we took this path. We would always be looking for opportunities to separate us from the people we care about in life, just so we can smoke that awful weed, creating dishonesty and discord where previously there was none. And as for “who’d know” Red, we would know, so crap idea!
Red: Think of the weight we’ll put on if we continue this ridiculous notion of not smoking. Eating when we feel like smoking, piling on the pounds and ballooning to the size of small horse!
Pure: Poppycock, weight gain is a myth which is banded around by people who don’t understand the difference between hunger pangs and nicotine withdrawal pangs. As we know the difference, weight gain won’t be a problem, and anyway, we’ll be a lot fitter and able to work out more often now we’ve stopped smoking.
Red: Okay okay okay, casual smoker?
Pure: No, pointless!
Red: Herbal cigarettes as a substitute?
Pure: Again pointless, herbal cigarettes as a substitute are sending us the wrong signal. I would even say that chewing gum, mints and any other substitute are not worth bothering with. If we use these substitutes we are admitting that we need to smoke or fill a void, it will keep the withdrawal pangs coming and prolong the process.
Red: Okay, can we at least have some nicotine replacement patches, so we don’t suffer so much?
Pure: If I didn’t know better Red, I would say you’re sounding defeated?
Red: No, not at all
Pure: Hmmm, nicotine patches will only put off our detoxification from nicotine. I would however be willing to compromise on this one, should Milo decide he needs them.
Red: Okay smartass, so what is the solution to this?
Pure: It’s fairly simple, we are now non-smokers and as such, we don’t smoke. Therefore, we don’t need to substitute, there is no substitute for nicotine. We need to sit it out, and after 3 weeks or so, our nicotine pangs will have dissipated and be part of our history. It’s not willpower, it’s just common logic. We are giving up a highly addictive substance, there may be uncomfortable factors involved, but I know, and Milo knows, it’s a means to an end. No pain no gain!
Pure: Ahh good, he’s gone, onward and upward, handing back to Milo for day five.
Day Five – Realisation
Five days in of my quitting smoking series, and I think I’ve reached a plateau, in terms of craving a cigarette. My alter ego’s Red and Pure, did a fantastic job yesterday of sorting through my fears and negative self-talk, and somehow today, it feels like I’ve turned a corner.
Any thoughts today, about sparking up a cigarette, have been fleeting and minimal. The cravings still pop by from time to time to remind me that I still house the little nicotine monster inside me somewhere, but they are more easily ignored than during the previous four days.
Touching on the substitute issue from day four, I’ve given up with the mints, fruit, chopped raw vegetables and chewing gum. I feel they reinforce the cravings I get, and essentially tell my subconscious that I need ‘something’ and that ‘something’ my conscious mind knows, is nicotine, gum and mints just don’t cut it.
There is no substitute for nicotine, and this is something I knew from the start. If I was going to stop smoking I knew I would have to go through the withdrawal, and suffer the psychological cravings for the substance my body was missing, for the duration of the withdrawal.
That’s why I didn’t want to go down the nicotine patches route, whether I wear patches for three months or start my nicotine withdrawal right away, either way I was going to have to withdraw from nicotine, so why not get it over with straight away.
A Complete Myth
I think I got a little carried away over the last couple of days, allowing thoughts of how difficult stopping smoking was to run riot through my mind. It’s a complete myth, stopping smoking is not difficult, as long as you realise that fact, and truly want to stop.
If you really want to do something and long for it passionately, then getting to that place is much easier than if you’re trying to get to a place you don’t really wish to be. In other words, if you truly want to stop smoking, you will stop regardless of how difficult you’re told it might be, or how difficult it may seem. I think if you apply this determined attitude, you can achieve positive results in any area of life.
Where Did I Go Wrong?
Maybe that’s where I went wrong at the beginning of this week, did I want to stop badly enough or for the right reasons? The top two reasons people want to stop smoking are health and money, in that order, and I fit into that category myself.
I wanted to stop because I felt my health was suffering, I was spending a lot of time coughing and spluttering every morning and night. So when I started contemplating stopping smoking and totted up the money I was spending (£224 a month), that also felt like a very good reason to stop.
So maybe at the beginning of this experience I wasn’t stopping for the right reasons, maybe I didn’t dislike smoking enough. Is being a little concerned about your health, or being pleased you’ll save a heap of money, a passionate enough reason to stop smoking?
Of course, they are good reasons to stop, but are they enough? While writing these daily articles I have had the opportunity to spend many hours each day examining my own addiction to nicotine. And over these days I think I’ve begun to understand myself and my addiction a little better.
In conveying my story on this blog, I’ve looked at many more aspects of my addiction than I would have done, had I not been writing about it. And my conclusion after these five days is, you need to want to stop smoking with a passion. Only doing it for health reasons, or for financial reasons is not enough.
If you want to stop smoking because you realise what a dumb ass you’re being, and you want to change that immediately, you’re on the right track.
If you want to stop smoking because you realise what an utterly pointless exercise it is, and that you’re also paying for the privilege of partaking in this pointless exercise, you’re on the right track. Keep it up.
Day Six – Myths About Smoking
Do you justify your smoking habits with statements like; smoking relieves stress and makes me feel calm, or life won’t be any fun without cigarettes?
If so then you’re not alone, we all harbour thoughts and beliefs about our addiction to nicotine, so here are some common myths, and the realities, about smoking cigarettes.
Smoking relieves stress and makes me feel calm
This is probably one of the widest held beliefs about smoking cigarettes, that we somehow need cigarettes to help us cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life. It’s a myth, we don’t need cigarettes to help us cope, and we coped just fine before we started smoking, right?
We’re all born with the natural mechanisms in place to withstand stress, and once you quit smoking these mechanisms will work all the better. Non-smokers have a lower propensity for stress and their stress levels are usually much lower than smokers.
Life won’t be any fun without cigarettes
This one is banded around by people who just don’t want to give quitting smoking a try, or more usually, by people who relapse after giving quitting a shot.
This is another myth, you only have to look at non-smokers and ex-smokers to realise that they’re living lives full of fun, sadness, grief, happiness, excitement, joy and drudgery, just like that of smokers. The only differences are the non-smokers and ex-smokers have a lot more money to enjoy life, and are healthier into the bargain.
Ex-smokers don’t walk around in a permanent state of personal introspection and depression, rueing the day they gave up smoking.
Quitting smoking means I’ll put on weight
Fear of weight gain does stop many people from attempting to quit smoking, that’s a fact. It is entirely possible you may gain weight, but it’s not inevitable.
One of the major causes of weight gain in quitting smokers is mistaking nicotine cravings for hunger cravings, meaning you think you want to eat, when really, you’re experiencing a nicotine craving.
Others however, use food as a coping mechanism to ward off the nicotine cravings. If you’re on the ball and know this is a possible reality before you stop smoking, you’ll be much better prepared for it when they come.
Try swapping your urges to smoke with a new gym membership, a lot cheaper than smoking cigarettes, and keep those pounds off.
Smoking a few cigarettes, a day is okay
Another myth, obviously if you have reduced the amount you smoke each day that’s a positive step in the right direction, however there is no safe smoking limit.
There have been studies on ‘light smokers’ which revealed there is still an increased chance of contracting cancers, heart problems and emphysema in people who smoke between one and four cigarettes a day.
If you’ve reduced the amount you smoke or smoke very little, what’s stopping you ruling cigarettes out altogether, and decreasing the chances of contracting an illness?
My grandfather smoked all his life, and he lived until he was 92 years old
This is a story you’ve probably heard yourself many times in one variation or another, you may have even cited it yourself to people you know.
Obviously, there must be people who achieve this, and smoke forty a day for 75+ years and end up dying in their beds at a ripe old age without even a sniff of a smoking related disease.
But for each of these characters there also exists many thousands of people who didn’t make it through to their fifties, let alone their nineties, as a result of smoking.
If you’re the gambling type you might take a chance on these slim odds, and think you might be one of the lucky ones, like good old gramps. But the odds aren’t good, and the chances of you becoming one of the aged smokers in these anecdotes in the future are greatly stacked against you.
I’ve smoked for years, what’s the point in quitting smoking now
There are health benefits, both immediate and long term, regardless of your age, when you stop smoking.
Stopping smoking before the age of 35 will mean you can live as long as a person who never smoked, but don’t be put off if you are above that age.
Older people who stop smoking can experience severe coughs disappearing, lung function and stamina improving.
People with chronic emphysema, while some damage may be irreversible, can see its progress halted by stopping smoking.
Within just twenty minutes of smoking a last cigarette, the risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer begins to decrease. It’s never too late to stop smoking!
I don’t have enough willpower to stop smoking
This is a sad myth which many people believe with such intensity, that it stops them even attempting to quit smoking.
Or this myth may be further ‘reinforced’ by memories of past attempts which ended in failure, leading a person to believe they don’t have a cat in hells chance of giving up.
Forward planning can eliminate the chance of failure, and with each passing day without a cigarette your confidence will increase.
It’s not a will power game; we all have the same ability to achieve goals, it’s our lack of confidence and/or self-esteem which makes or breaks the attempt.
Have as many tools in your toolbox as possible, strategies for every eventuality, and see how you can stop smoking when you previously thought you had no will power. It’s achievable!
I wanted to share these myths with you on my 6th day of not smoking, if you’re a smoker, or know someone who smokes and wants to give up. I hope I’ve dispelled some myths which may be preventing you, or the people you know, from quitting smoking.
Day Seven – 40 Obvious, and Less Obvious, Reasons to Quit Smoking
Against all the odds I’ve completed seven days without a cigarette, so to celebrate I thought I would share forty reasons why you should quit smoking, some obvious and some far less obvious.
- Increased Mental Capacity
Non and ex-smokers, have more increased cognitive function than their smoking counterparts. A study of 20,000 smokers at Sheba Medical Center at the Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel recently, show that the heavier the smoker, the lower the IQ.
- More Dollar
Smoking an average of twenty cigarettes a day will cost you £2231 ($2857) per year, and that figure increases with every price hike. What could you buy with that amount of extra money each year? If you smoke for fifty years, providing you live that long, you will have spent upwards of £111,550 ($142,850), that’s a HOUSE over your lifetime!
- Better Sex
The blood flow to your body improves once you have stopped smoking. This will improve sensitivity, and men can experience longer erections (longer = time Not: longer = length, sorry guys!). Women may experience better orgasms and become aroused more easily. Non-smokers are on average three times more appealing to the opposite sex, we know pheromones affect attraction, so smelling like an ashtray obviously works on the same basis.
- Senses Improve
Your sense of smell and taste improve when you’re no longer bombarding them with the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
- Breathing becomes less laboured
Stopping smoking increases your lung capacity by 10% within nine months of quitting smoking. In younger people this may not be as noticeable; however, lung function naturally degrades as we get older so having the maximum lung capacity in later life can mean a more active middle and old age.
- Clearer and younger looking skin
Toxins in cigarettes alter the oil secretions in your skin that delay the onset of wrinkles. Non-smokers have more oxygen reaching their skin, and therefore more nutrients meaning no pallid looking skin.
- Better Fertility
Getting pregnant is made easier for women as the lining of the womb improves when a woman stops smoking. For men, their sperm becomes livelier and more potent increasing the chances of conception. Not smoking also reduces the chances of miscarriage and means your baby is more likely to be born healthy.
- Whiter teeth and healthier gums
Stopping smoking reduces the yellow staining on the teeth and improves your oral health all round. Gum disease is lower in non-smokers and the chances of oral cancers reduce greatly.
- Make friends and influence people
If you quit smoking your spouse or partner is 67% more likely to stop smoking too. Your friends are also 37% more likely to be inspired by your achievement and stop smoking, you’ll be considered a trend setter, and be the reason your friends become healthier. Well done you!
- You’ll sleep better
Smokers are more likely to snore than non-smokers, meaning you and your partner will experience less broken sleep, and you’ll feel much better during the day with all those extra Zzz’s.
- Staying abreast of the situation
Female smokers have a 25%-32% greater chance of developing breast cancer than that of non-smoking females.
- Hair today gone tomorrow
Although grey hair is predominantly determined by the genes you carry, there is some evidence that you may go grey quicker should you smoke tobacco. It’s the same with men and baldness, it’s mainly down to your gene pool, but there is also some evidence to suggest that men can lose their hair more quickly if they smoke cigarettes.
- Passively Smoked Pets
It’s not only your friends and family that could be breathing in your second-hand smoke, increasing their chances of developing smoking related diseases, it’s also your friendly lovable pets. Your cats and dogs breathe too you know.
- Confidence Building
As quitting smoking is deemed, and considered, a difficult undertaking to achieve, your confidence will take a massive boost should you manage to succeed. This confidence can be carried into other areas of your life, and be a positive grounding to launch other taxing accomplishments.
- Feeling Energised
Between two and twelve weeks after stopping smoking your body’s circulation will improve, making it much easier to complete physical tasks such as walking, running and working out. Your breathing will also have improved so a feeling of being more energised will fill you with invincibility. You’re a superhero in comparison to your old smoking self.
- Stress Be Gone
The myth that smoking helps with stress is just that, a myth. This feeling of stress relief is brought on by quelling the withdrawal pang when you light up a cigarette, you’re not relieving stress you’re just satisfying your craving for nicotine. Stress levels in people who stop smoking decrease as a result and increased oxygen to the brain maintains a mental status quo.
- Early Menopause
Women may experience early menopause brought about by smoking cigarettes. The chemicals in cigarettes can speed up the menopause by killing egg cells made by the ovaries, reducing the egg cell reserve. Since the timing of the menopause is decided by the size of a woman’s egg cell reserve, which is stocked with around a million eggs at birth and vanishes by menopause, anything that speeds up its loss could logically lead to a much earlier start of the menopause.
- Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem, Weak Bones
Smoking can cause bone density to diminish, smoking weakens the body’s scaffolding and is a serious risk factor for osteoporosis. Smokers’ bones may also heal less quickly than that of non-smokers.
- Burning more than the end of your cigarette
Smoking can cause havoc with your digestive system, and could be the reason you suffer with heartburn or peptic ulcers, or possibly even gallstones. There is also an increased risk in smokers, and former smokers, of developing Crohn’s disease.
- Longer Life
Yeah, we all know about this one, people who have never smoked, live on average, ten years longer than people who do smoke.
- If I dodge lung cancer I’ve made it, right?
Obviously, lung cancer and bronchial cancers are right at the top of the cancer list for smokers; there are also other cancers which, although less common, are still worth knowing about. Stomach, pancreatic, kidney, urinary bladder, and cervical cancer are all possibilities.
- Erectile Dysfunction
A Chinese study of 5000 men who smoked tobacco showed that they are 60% more likely to suffer with erectile dysfunction, more widely known as impotence, compared with 12% of men who never smoked. If you want it to stay up, stop lighting up.
- You might go blind
You are four times more likely to go blind in later life from age related Macular Degeneration, than those who have never smoked. This is a medical condition which usually affects older adults that result in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina.
- Your Social Life Improves
More and more countries are becoming 100% smoke free in bars and restaurants, it won’t be long before the majority of the world follows suit, leaving you out in the cold, if you want to light up. Always having to nip outside for a cig means less time spent with the people you went out with.
- Warmer Interactions
Do you wonder why your hands and feet are cold all the time? Smoking reduces circulation and the extremities are the first to suffer, quitting smoking rectifies this problem almost immediately.
- Reduce your caffeine intake
We all know too much caffeine isn’t good for you, well you could reduce the amount you take into the body if you quit smoking. Smokers clear caffeine from the body 56% more quickly than non-smokers, so when you decide to stop smoking, make sure you reduce your caffeine intake to avoid sleepless nights with insomnia, and irritability.
- Think about switching to condoms
Oral contraceptives (The Pill) carry an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, so smoking increases that risk even further. You should think about stopping using one of them, the pill or cigarettes.
- I’ll puff and I’ll puff and I’ll burn my house down
Around 55% of all residential house fires which involve a fatality are caused by a cigarette. You are over 6 times more likely to suffer an injury by fire if you live in a smoking household, and that goes for your kids too, hard to hear right?
- Fewer visits to the hardware store
If you smoke you will have to re-decorate your home a lot more often than if you didn’t smoke. Those tell-tale yellow walls and ceilings are a dead giveaway you’re in a smoker’s home. Decorating is expensive, so keeping your house fresh and smoke free will save you bags of cash.
- Scrubbing your fingers
You know the fashionable yellow finger look? Well it’s no longer in fashion; someone needs to tell you, it’s not a great look. Nicotine stains are near on impossible to scrub off, and the chemicals on your fingers transfer onto everything you touch.
- How depressing is smoking?
There have been studies, which now state, there may be a link with smoking tobacco and depression.
- Life Insurance
The premiums you pay to the company who insure your life with a policy will fall dramatically if you decide to give up the evil weed.
If you smoke twenty cigarettes a day you spend approximately twenty-five full days a year smoking cigarettes, that’s nearly a whole month of your time spent puffing away. What could you do with those lost days if after quitting smoking?
- Crash and burn
You’re one and a half times more likely to crash your car if you smoke cigarettes, according to a study published by the Canadian Journal of Public Health. No more reaching for your smokes and trying to light up when you’re driving on the roads.
- Protecting your child’s future
If you smoke your child is twice as likely to start smoking when they get older, inheriting all the smoking related health issues which you face now.
- Reduce tooth decay
Smoking cigarettes reduces the amount of saliva produced in the mouth. Saliva is essential for keeping tooth decay at bay by cleaning the teeth and inside the mouth. More visits to the dentists also means more money and time, which if you’re a smoker, you have in short supply already.
- Losing your mind
A Dutch study of 7000 people showed that people who currently smoke have an increased risk of dementia, whereas, ex-smokers have no increase in the chance of this illness.
- Join the club
Around 22% of the male adult population in the UK now smoke and this figure is decreasing every year; compare this with 82% in 1948 when smoking records began. 41% of women smoked in 1948 which has now reduced to 21%. It’s only a matter of time before these figures reduce further leaving you in the severe minority.
- Operation Smoke Free
Non-smokers are less prone to post-operative complications when leaving surgery, compared with that of smokers. Some surgeons refuse to operate in certain situations unless you stop smoking prior to going under the knife.
- Diabetes Onset
There seems to be some evidence to suggest that heavy smoking can bring on diabetes. Together with genetics and obesity, smoking is one of the risk factors for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance often leads to diabetes.
This list is not meant as a scaremongering technique, I was pretty astounded at some of the risks when researching quitting smoking myself, and thought it would be helpful to share some of the findings with you.
There are many more reasons to give up smoking and I welcome any additions to this list. This concludes my first seven days as a non smoker. I hope this article has been helpful, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Happy non smoking.