Smoking harms almost every part of your body and as you’ve most likely already heard, every cigarette is doing you damage. Smoking also increases the risk of developing many diseases including many forms of cancer. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, smoking is the single most important preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia and up to 90% of all lung cancers in men, and 65% of all lung cancers in women are attributed to smoking.
In case you need any more motivation to quit smoking, here are a few more reasons to give it up for good.
Reasons to quit smoking
Your health will improve
Smoking is known to cause a wide range of health problems and increase your risk of developing certain conditions. The risk of developing most cancers will generally decrease after quitting smoking completely. When you quit smoking, you’ll start to notice a whole range of health benefits. These include improvements to your sense of smell after one week and improvements to the appearance of your skin after one month. After two to 12 months, your circulation will start to improve and at three months, your lung function begins to improve as well. After 10 years, your risk of lung cancer will be the same someone who’s never smoked and after 15 years, your risk of heart disease will be the same as someone who has never smoked.
Your appearance will start to improve
When you quit smoking, you’ll start to notice a range of improvements to the way you look. You’ll notice the yellow and brown stains on your fingers, tongue and teeth will start to fade. You’ll also put a stop any further premature ageing as smoking can cause early sagging of the skin and wrinkles. As well as this, your hair’s natural shine will start to come through again.
Depending on how many cigarettes you normally smoke, you could save yourself thousands of dollars each year by quitting. For even more motivation, you can try the quit smoking calculator to work out exactly how much money you’ll save.
Less stress and more self-control
It’s a myth that smoking helps you stress less beyond the short-term. Ex-smokers often report feeling less stress after they’ve quit smoking. After quitting, you’re also likely to feel an increase in self-control and accomplishment as you’ve overcome an addiction and will probably feel more in charge of your life.
Ways to quit smoking
Before you quit, it’s a good idea to understand why you smoke in the first place. Common reasons include using smoking as method of stress-relief or because it’s become a habit that you can’t break. For many people, it’s an addiction and your body craves nicotine.
Getting to know your triggers
For some people, certain situations make them crave a cigarette. Drinking coffee or alcohol is a common trigger for a lot of people. For others it may be when they finish a meal, when they’re taking a break from work, or certain social situations. Emotional states like boredom, sadness or anger can also be a trigger for some people. If you know a trigger is coming up, it’s a good idea to have a strategy in place.
If you’re not sure what your triggers are, you could try starting a diary. By noting each time and place you have a cigarette you’ll start to build a picture of your triggers. It’s also important to note down each time you experience a craving.
Quitting cold turkey
‘Cold turkey’ means quitting abruptly at a certain point in time and without the use of nicotine replacement therapies. People who quit this way rely on their own willpower to get them through their cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Research suggests that the most effective way to quit smoking is by quitting suddenly and using a combination of nicotine replacement therapies and support. If you do decide to quit cold turkey, it’s a good idea to avoid triggers or social situations that could lead you to feel intense cravings.
Gradually cutting down
If you don’t feel you’re ready to quit cold-turkey straight away, you can try slowly reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke. This can be an effective way to quit cigarettes if you set a quit date. A quit date is the day you completely stop smoking. A quit date can be helpful as it gives people a definite point in time to work towards.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and quitting medications
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can help you feel less of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that you’d normally feel when you quit. These symptoms include anxiety, cravings, mood swings and irritability. Common NRT products include patches, gum, inhalers, mouth sprays and lozenges. Some nicotine patches are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for all eligible Australians. You’ll need to ask your doctor for a prescription.
There are also certain medications you can use to help reduce your desire to smoke and some of the withdrawal symptoms. These include bupropion and varenicline. These medications are only available on prescriptions and are for people who are in a support and counselling program.
You can find out more about NRT and quitting medications at Quitline.
E-cigarettes or “vaping”
E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to smoking. It’s important to know that current research doesn’t support the use of e-cigarettes as a quitting method. In fact, research suggests that they cause your body damage including lung disease, heart disease and even cancer. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) haven’t approved e-cigarettes as a tool to help you quit smoking or as a nicotine replacement therapy. In fact, there are concerns that e-cigarette liquid sold in Australia may contain traces of harmful chemicals.
What to expect when you quit smoking
There are a range of withdrawal symptoms you’re likely to experience when you quit smoking. It’s important to remember that these symptoms are only temporary. They can include:
- feeling tense and irritable
- appetite changes
- coughing or sore throat
Where to get help
You can call the Quitline on 13 78 48 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday. They have counsellors who can help you if you’re having a craving or have other questions.
- My QuitBuddy app can help you track your progress, manage your cravings and find distractions when you feel like a cigarette.
- Quit for You – Quit for Two app is a great tool to help you quit if you’re pregnant. It also helps to distract you if you feel like a cigarette and gives practical tips and advice.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified health care Professional.