Jumat, 09 Maret 2012

Dangers of Smoking and How to Stop it

If you are a smoker or you associate with people that smoke, you need to know that tobacco use is one of the most important causes of heart attack globally. In today's modern world, tobacco use is the most important risk factor producing a greater relative risk in persons under the age of fifty than those over fifty.

Smoked or chewed, first-hand or second-hand, all kinds of tobacco, in whatever form they are used, cause heart attacks and there is more than enough evidence to prove that tobacco use increases other adverse health conditions.

Dangers of tobacco smoking are particularly severe and while it is often very difficult to think of ways in which tobacco use is beneficial, it is all too easy to mention the ways in which it is a health hazard. To be exact, all forms of tobacco use, including different types of smoking and chewing of tobacco and inhalation of second-hand smoke are potentially hazardous and should be discouraged.

On its own, cigarette smoking is as widespread and significant as a risk factor that it has been described as "the leading preventable cause of disease and death". Second-hand smoke may be even more dangerous than previously thought. The fact is that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and has negative health impacts on people at all stages of life. It harms unborn babies, infants, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. 

Besides containing addictive nicotine, cigarette smoke contains chemicals which damage the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system and increases the risk of development of cancer of the lungs and respiratory system.

Research shows that there are at least sixty chemicals in cigarette smoke that are cacogenic. Cigarette and tobacco smoke contain highly toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic and cyanide which are all produced as cigarette burns.

Tobacco smoke raises blood pressure but decreases the circulation of oxygen to the brain and body. Cigarette smoking is also a significant risk factor for other various disorders, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, stroke, and osteoporosis and contributes to early menopause. Smoking has been linked to cancer of the lungs, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix.

Smoking is associated with higher levels of chronic inflammation, another damaging process that may result from oxidative stress. Smokers have a higher risk of developing a number of chronic disorders including fatty buildups in arteries, several types of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung problems). Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty substances in the arteries) is a chief contributor to the high number of deaths from smoking.

The dangers of smoking cannot be exhaustively explained. To really stop smoking, you must always ask yourself the reason why you are about to light up that cigarette. If you find out that it's got no sensible reason, DROP IT.

Smoking Statistics in Canada

Smoking statistics  for Canada are generated by  the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) which collects data on tobacco use and related issues in Canada.  The data collected provides useful information on both the incidence (number of new smokers) and the prevalence (total number of smokers) of smoking in the Canadian population.

Overall the long term trends show that the prevalence of smoking in Canada is decreasing from a high of 35% of the population in 1985 to less than 20% of the population in 2007.  The first wave of 2008 smoking statistics from the CTUMS show that prevalence could now be approaching 18%.

The  province of British Columbia has the lowest rate of prevalence for smoking across the country (15%) with Saskatchewan having the highest prevalence at 21%.  All other provinces were very close to the national average of 18%.

Here is how the Canadian smoking statistics break down by age groups.  As all the data from 2008 is not yet available this data is from the first half of 2008.
  • 15-19 yrs old 15% of this population classify themselves as smokers. While unchanged from the previous year this does represent the  lowest rate since Canada began collecting and monitoring smoking statistics.
  • 20-24 yrs old. 28% of this population are smoking.  Among this age group males continue to smoke at a higher rate but smoke more cigarettes per capital than the female smoking population in this age group.
  • 30-50 yrs old represent the age group that is giving up smoking at the the highest rate.
There has been a consistent effort on the part of governments to get the message out about the smoking risks to health.  Smoking laws have been passed in many provinces and municipalities that prevent smoking in public buildings of any kind ( even bars and restaurants).  Recently the laws in Vancouver BC and surrounding areas have been extended to included a ban on smoking within 7 meters of a building entrance.  If you are going to smoke in that area you really have to work at it. 

Since the smoking statistics show a clear drop in the prevalence of smoking it is clear there are a significant number of Canadians who are giving up smoking. But more importantly less and less Canadians are being influenced to take up the habit in the first place.

So of those people who are still in the smoking minority who are they?   An examination of the social epidemiology reveals some interesting smoking statistics.

The highest prevalence of smokers is among the unemployed, poorly educated, and low income populations.  The very people who have the least amount of disposable income purchase the majority of cigarettes. For this population at least, it would appear that the economic impact of cigarette smoking is not important enough to motivate a change in smoking behaviour.

New Way to Quit Smoking?

Behavior Modification: Smoking

Even as a child, I've always known smoking was bad for your health. My dad smoked when I was very young, but quit due to the health risks he imposed on his family as well as himself. He quit cold turkey, meaning immediately and solely by himself. He said it was hard, but he got over it. Since then he told me never to smoke. Now I can't exactly tell you how I picked up smoking, but it definitely started after my 18th birthday when I was legally able to purchase cigarettes. I bought my first pack just because I could, and I smoked them periodically at school, especially when others were doing it, and especially if they were attractive females. This made me think I was cool enough to associate with them. As the months went on, I started getting more and more stressed with school and work, I slowly grew dependent on cigarettes. By the time I was 19, I needed to smoke whenever I studied, worked, or socialized with my friends, because most of my friends were also smokers. I have quit numerous times and succeeded at the goals I've set because I would set goals such as not smoking for two weeks, however I have never set a permanent goal due to fear of losing my crutch. For example, I would not smoke for two weeks, what allowed me to abstain was the thought that I can have a cigarette after two weeks.

Tracy Orleans, et al., (1991) conducted a research study on quitting smoking interventions. The study consisted of four groups, (a) the self help group, who were given a standard self quitting guide to quit with no other support, (b) the social support group, who were given the same self quitting guide along with a support guide for their family and friends, (c) the telephone group, who were given the same self quitting material, but with four telephone calls to a counselor, and (d) the control, who were given only tips to quit smoking and a referral to local quit smoking programs. The results of the study were not significant, the quit rates of the control and experimental groups were about the same, the only difference was the way the two groups quit. The experimental groups tended to quit using behavioral requiting strategies (e.g. setting a quit date, switching brands, etc.) while the control group tended to use outside interventions (like voluntary group therapy, nicotine gum/patches, etc). An interesting finding in this article was that heavier, long time smokers were less likely to quit using self help interventions alone, than were lighter, less addicted smokers (Orleans et al., 1991). This may appear like common sense in hindsight, because clearly longer, heavier smokers are more addicted, therefore its harder for them to quit, similar reasoning could be added to the opposite; lighter smokers are less likely to quit because they feel that the health threats are trivial because there is no immediate concern, whereas long time smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic illness as a result of their smoking, thus forcing them to stop due to their health. Although the former is a finding as a result of the study, the latter was found in my specific intervention, as well as my brief encounter with smokers in the past.

My specific strategy was to monitor my smoking for five days, then implement my plan, which was to smoke one less cigarette a day. Now I only smoked about 4-5 cigarettes a day so my plan was to start with five, then kick it down to zero. Of course, as I've stated before I knew this would be easy because my goal for the future was to smoke again. I started my change in behavior smoking five the first day, only three the next day, but then on the third day I was angry at the thought that nicotine was controlling me, so using self control, I smoked no cigarettes on day three. Day four I was supposed to smoke two, but only smoked one at night, this one cigarette at night felt better than any cigarette I had previously smoked in weeks. I wanted this feeling again; I knew it was from nicotine withdrawal. The next three days I went off track of my original plan and smoked one cigarette a night. I used a form of operant conditioning, where "the individual performs a behavior, and the behavior is followed by positive reinforcement" (Taylor et al., 2006). In this case the very euphoric feeling of a nicotine rush is the reward due to a nicotine withdrawal from not smoking all day (which is the behavior). Sure this may not be the ideal goal of operant conditioning, but it did greatly reduce the number of cigarettes I smoked in a day.

This behavior change was only temporary in my mind, as were the past attempts. I chose to monitor my smoking habits because it is probably my most health compromising behavior (aside from riding my motorcycle but I don't think that is a "health" issue, more of a "lifestyle" issue). According to the text, "smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable death…In the United States, it accounts for at least 430,700 deaths each year" (Taylor et al., 2006) Even without the book, and without the media telling me the negative effects of smoking, I knew it could not be good for me. When I go to sleep just after smoking, I notice my heart rate is very high, anytime I do strenuous physical activity, I always gasp for air after, although I do notice that I can hold my breath longer than many of my non smoking peers. I smoke mainly because the immediate payoffs outweigh the immediate consequences, and because I am human, evolutionary psychology shows that my immediate future is more salient than anything many years ahead (Ornstein, 1991). Sure I can get lung cancer or heart disease in 20-30 years, but that is less salient on my mind, besides I, like many others fall into the false consensus effect theory; I believe that the same health compromising behavior that kills hundreds of thousands a year, probably won't affect me.

After the twelve day period, I continued with the one cigarette a night, after a few days of that, I went to one every other night. As I am writing this paper, I am down to two a week. My goal is to bring it down to zero, however as I have implied, the thought of being able to smoke in the future is the only thing allowing me to go without a cigarette for a period of time. What worked well in my intervention was that I did not give in to the abstinence violation effect which is "a feeling of loss of control that results when a person has violated self-imposed rules" (Taylor et al., 2006). On a couple of days I gave in and smoked more then I was supposed to, mainly because I was with my smoking friends, a main effect of abstinence violation is relapse, but I made sure I did not by telling myself it was a one time thing and I will continue with my original plan, that definitely helped me from saying "screw it" and continue to my old ways of four to five cigarettes

This intervention has taught me a lot about my specific cues for smoking and I have realized that for the most part it is not a severe addiction for me; rather it is just something to do between classes, lunch breaks, or socializing with friends. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to do this, as I probably would have never monitored my smoking otherwise. Because of this project, I have cut my cigarettes down to only six percent of what I used to smoke, with no signs of relapse, or cravings during the day. Perhaps for the future, I will only smoke when girls hit on me, which is never. :)

Jumat, 02 Maret 2012

Side Effects of Stopping Smoking

Quitting smoking is probably one of the hardest things you may have to do your entire life. It is the nicotine that makes it hard. This chemical is addictive and just like any addictive drug, cessation leads to withdrawal and your body wanting the drug so much that a number of symptoms, or side effects will develop. The side effects of stopping smoking are difficult, but they only last for the first 3 days. After this it becomes an easier task. However, dealing with this 72 hour period and finishing it is the hardest part where most people fail when they attempt to stop.

The side effects of stopping smoking cover a variety of mental and physical symptoms which are manifested in an attempt to get you to light up another cigarette. You must resist the temptation no matter how bad the symptoms get. The first thing you will notice is that you will start feeling depressed about not having that cigarette around when you need it; before you could turn to the cigarette to help you get through almost any situation. This depression will lead into an anxiety in which you will develop jitters and fears about not being able to handle daily life without a smoke.

You used to hang out in certain places with certain friends but after cessation you will have to become a loner to some degree. As a result, another side effect of stopping smoking will kick in known as boredom and loneliness. Worst of all though, there is another side effect, but this one will affect those around you faster than it will affect you personally. You will become more irritable, hot tempered and ready to snap at anyone for any little thing. Chances are that you will not even realize that you are being irritable. Just remind yourself and those around you that after 72 hours, things should start to calm down and ask them to bear with you until you get there; they will understand and support you while you quit smoking.

Kamis, 01 Maret 2012

Cleaning Out Your Lungs To Quit Smoking Works

Have you ever wondered at the state of your lungs after your years of smoking? We all see the pictures of terrible diseased looking lungs and yet we continue to smoke until some spark sets your mind to quitting and even still we think about all the other aspects of quitting but not the health of our lungs it seems. Cleaning out your lungs may seem like the last thing on your mind (or not even there if you think it was not possible) but what if your attempt to quit smoking cigarettes and better lung health are entwined and rely on each other?
This is the case because cleaning out your lungs is not only good for your health but will actually make you not WANT to smoke again!

A quick fact: It takes the average long term smoker about 15 to 20 for their lungs to detoxify themselves and become relatively healthy which is a heck of a long time for you to be breathing through an organ choked with tar and noxious substances.

If you take active steps to detox and clean out your lungs then you can reduce that dramatically down to less than one year with the right culmination of lung exercises, diet changes, cardio exercise and knowing certain vitamins that actively work against the tar and toxins in your lungs.

How does this help me quit smoking though?
The advantage to having cleaner healthier lungs beyond the obvious benefits of being able to breathe easier and have les chance of lung cancer is that with a cleaner set of lungs your body is once again repelled by the toxins and irritants in cigarette smoke that it had become accustomed to. People who have cleaned out their lungs have described feeling sickened at the smell of cigarette smoke after a few months and never felt the urge to smoking again because to their body it was not enjoyable anymore.

Anti Smoking Slogans

At least half of the world seems to enjoy the pleasures of smoking. However, the other half seems to be really up against it. From anti smoking laws to zero cigarette campaigns… this half of the world seems to have taken really serious steps in its battle against the fumes. The most effective tools that they employed are the slogans.

Slogans are words combined to form simple sentences or phrases which promote ideas. Since time immemorial, this has been used to promote general thoughts and even eccentric ideas. From “skin is in” to “no gut no glory”, there are just too many slogans that have made their marks in the shaping of history. The same is true when it comes to the battle against smoking. Anti smoking slogans abound all over the world, in order to be a little closer to the elimination of this abominable vice.

Anti smoking slogans tackle every aspect of smoking and its effects in very few words. The most prominent ones are those which delve into the health concerns of people around the world. A perfect example of a health related anti smoking slogan is “Save your lungs, save your life”. Indeed, the message here is clear. It says that the cause of various physical diseases can be traced down to smoking cigarettes. Other examples are “Breathe healthily, live happily” and “If you can’t stop smoking, cancer will.” These easy to remember and rhythmically rhymed slogans have been used by various anti smoking organizations in their campaign posters, banners and even televised public service plugs.

There are also anti smoking slogans which deal with the pollution that the use of cigarettes can cause. As you may know, smoke is harmful for the air. The constant smoking of millions of people everyday actually contributes to the air pollution here on earth. As such, slogans like “Share clean air” and “Everyone has a right to clean air” have been popular adages when it comes to discouraging smoking for environmental causes. Even the improper throwing of cigarette butts have been choice topics among environmental anti smoking slogans.

Last but not the least, there are also anti smoking slogans which discuss financial disadvantages caused by smoking. As you may well know, cigarettes are not the cheapest things on earth. In some countries like Singapore, they can even cause up to $10 a pack. As such, it can cause financial strain on average earners which have been hooked to the habit. An example of this is “Too much smoke will leave you broke”. It is a clear statement on proper use of resources, instead of splurging on deadly vices.

If you are into the same cause, then you might want to make your own anti smoking slogan now if you can. It’s fun, challenging and worthy of doing. The best thing about this is that you can actually save lives once your anti smoking slogan’s message gets heard.

Rabu, 29 Februari 2012

The Positive & Negative Effects of Quitting Smoking

If you are actually considering stopping smoking then you should take into account the possible side effects, both positive and negative that you are likely to suffer.

The Positive Effects of Quitting Smoking:
Within just a few days of stopping smoking, you will notice marked improvements to your health. The biggest factor behind this is due to the oxygen levels in your bloodstream increasing together with improved lung function and a general growth in your generalised fitness levels.
You will almost certainly notice that your breathing is much improved and your lungs are functioning much freely than while you were still smoking. Your sense of smell and taste improve within hours of your last cigarette and take just a few days to return to their proper levels. The risk of a heart attack gets lower as each cigarette free day passes. Ceasing to smoke will also lower the risks of many problems with your circulation. If you have quit smoking your will also notice an increase in your stamina and within few weeks your stamina level will be normal. You will notice that you sleep much better than before and awaken fresh and revitalised.

The Negative Effects of Quitting Smoking:
effects seem to come about as blood sugar levels start to fall. As you go through the procedure of quitting smoking your physical structure is forced adapt to the altered state of affairs. You can easily reduce the levels of this side effect by increasing your fluid intake, drinking a chilled glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice several times a day will help maintain your blood sugar levels. Smoking may likewise impair many of your body's vital organs therefore it will take time to recover once you quit. Some studies have suggested that by quitting smoking there is a chance that you are a slightly greater risk of being diagnosed with Mesothelioma, the treatment for this disease may be expensive and can not be completed without funding. Another down side to quitting is that you may experience feelings of snappishness, tenseness, sickness, and giddiness. The good news though is that all of these symptoms are short lived. When you first quit you may find you have trouble getting to sleep, or you may wake up during the night more often. It is possible you may have problems concentrating and suffer from minor constipation as well as a tickly "smokers cough". You may more susceptible to, common colds and ulcers. Obviously you will face the dreaded withdrawal symptoms, repeated urges to light a cigarette, inflated appetite, fidgetiness and depression. The best way to combat the majority of these effects is to take part in regular exercise; however it is always recommended that you consult with your own doctor before dramatically changing your lifestyle to achieve the best results.

Quitting the smoking habit is always going to be tough whatever method or system you choose. But the net results can be immense. You regain your health, you stop damaging your home, your family feel better, and you save a ton of money too!