Smoking can cause many severe diseases in both the smoker and those around them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a choice. Give up smoking.
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of early disease and death.
Smoking causes a myriad of life-threatening diseases: cancer, heart disease, strokes, lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases your risk for tuberculosis and eye diseases and decreases your immunity. There is a reason why every packet of cigarettes in South Africa carries health warnings and that is to remind you of its dangers.
Second-hand smoke can also harm the ones you love. It causes health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually. And some of the health conditions caused by second-hand smoke in adults include coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
So, what is the link between smoking and the COVID-19 pandemic?
Smoking has an effect on the severity of contracting COVID-19. Studies show that people suffer more severe symptoms, and a greater chance of death, if they are smokers. The best news, if there can be an upside to a pandemic, is that about 9% of pre-lockdown smokers successfully quit smoking.
Yet the COVID-19 cigarette sales ban was controversial, as 91% of smokers continued purchasing cigarettes illicitly. This resulted in corruption as well as the flooding of the country with counterfeit cigarettes, which have even more health dangers. It also resulted in over R1,5 billion in lost tax revenue at a time when the country needed the money most.
Giving up smoking is one of the greatest things you can do.
Your chances of death and disease decrease significantly. You will breathe easier and cough less, your blood pressure will go down, your skin will look healthier, and you will have more energy.
Plus it’s more than just health benefits. You’ll have more money to spend. You won’t have to worry about when or where you can smoke next. Your food will taste better. Your car‚ home‚ and kids won’t smell like cigarettes. You’ll be in control and free of the addiction.
You’ll set a great example for your children as it takes a lot of strength to quit. Your friends, family, co-workers, and other loved ones will be proud of you.
Best of all, the heath benefits of quitting are immediate.
- In as little as 20 minutes after the last cigarette is smoked, your heart rate drops to normal and blood circulation improves.
- After just 12 hours without a cigarette, the body cleanses itself of the excess carbon monoxide from the cigarettes, increasing the body’s oxygen levels.
- Just 1 day after quitting, your risk of heart attack begins to decrease. You can also smell and taste better.
- In as little as 1 month, your lung function begins to improve. Former smokers may notice less coughing and shortness of breath. Your athletic endurance increases.
- And in the subsequent years, your overall health can drop to the level of a person who has never smoked in their life.
Let’s do it! What mindful practices can you take to kick the habit?
Giving up smoking is no small task. So addictive is the habit, that smokers ignore the health dangers. Here are a few tips that can help you quit smoking.
- Try nicotine replacement therapy, including prescription medicines, and over-the-counter treatments.
- Avoid triggers. Steer clear of the places, at least for a while, which you associate with smoking, like parties, and have a plan in place to get through them without using tobacco.
- Delay satisfying your urge to smoke, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Cravings aren’t constant. They come and go.
- Don’t have ‘just one’. As they say, one’s too many, two’s not enough.
- Get physical. Work out your nicotine withdrawal with a run around the park or a gym session.
- Get support. Don’t try to give up on your own. Join online support groups, or ask your friends and family to keep a watchful eye. It helps.
- Finally, research the benefits. We’ve talked about many of them in this article but there are countless more.
Smoking and second-hand smoke destroys lives. It could be yours and it could be your kid’s. You don’t want to be responsible for any damage. Rather choose to live a healthier life, so you can enjoy the best things life has to offer for longer.
The choice is yours.
If you need support, advice, or counselling, please contact us on 0861 GOLIFE (465433) or SMS “Wellbeing” to 43821 or click here to visit the website for more information.
References: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/index.htm https://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/legislation/country/south-africa/pl-health-warnings https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/nicotine-craving/art-20045454