Advice Column, Health

Quit Smoking This Spring

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Spring is such a wonderful time of new beginnings and lovely fresh foliage and sweet scented flowers. What better time to quit smoking so that you too can smell the roses. And what better incentive to give up smoking than knowing the positive effects that quitting will have on your health.

Benefits of quitting

Smokers often hide behind the argument that because they have smoked for such a long time, in health terms there is little to gain by stopping. Nothing could be further from the truth. The American cancer website lists several health benefits that may result from quitting, ranging from short-term to long-term. Here are a few of them:

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure readings will return to the level that they were before your last cigarette and the temperature of your hands and feet will return to normal.
  • Within 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will return to normal.
  • Within 2 – 12 weeks, your vascular system and circulation will improve and your lung function will improve by 30%.
  • Within 1 – 9 months, the small hair-like projections that grow on the inner surfaces of your lungs and respiratory tract that are responsible for clearing your lungs of mucous will regrow thus improving your ability to clear your lungs and cope with infections and toxins.
  • One year later, your risk of a heart attack will decrease by 50%.
  • Five to 15 years later, your risk of stroke will decrease to that of a non-smoker.
  • Ten years later your risk of developing lung cancer will be 50% of that of a smoker.

But what changes will you actually feel? Within a few days, you’ll probably begin to notice the slow return of your sense of smell and taste. You’ll breathe easier, and your smoker’s hack will begin to disappear, while your energy levels improve day by day as you gradually regain your vitality of days gone by. But best of all, you’ll be free from the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense and dependence of cigarette smoking.

Quit smoking aids

There are different options when it comes to things that could help you quit. Of course for me the prescription drugs such as Zyban and Chantix are an absolute no-no due to some potentially dangerous side-effects.

Then there is the electronic cigarette that delivers nicotine to the user via a vapor that is inhaled into the lungs. These only qualify as a smoking alternative, not a quit aid. They do not cure the addiction or the habit. When we quit smoking, it is counter-productive to substitute a nicotine delivery device that looks, for all intents and purposes, just like the cigarettes we are working so hard to break free of. Furthermore the risks associated with electronic cigarettes are largely unknown at this point. They are largely untested and because they are not regulated, the amount of nicotine in them can vary, as well as other possibly harmful chemical ingredients. For this reason I cannot recommend them.

The only quit smoking remedies I do recommend are herbal products, provided they are 100% natural and their safety has been confirmed. Find one that not only reduces nicotine cravings but also the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal which include stress, anxiety and irritability.

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