- If you use tobacco, quitting smoking is BY FAR the #1 thing you can do to enhance your health and your life!
- There are many, many, many benefits to quitting smoking.
- The main reason why a smoker continues to smoke is because they are addicted to nicotine, which is a compound in tobacco that creates negative emotions when a smoker's brain is deprived of it.
- To effectively quit smoking a smoker needs to build and use coping strategies to manage the negative emotions that result from depriving the brain of nicotine.
- There are plenty of resources to help a person quit smoking that include self-help guides, telephone helplines, and meeting with a health professional here at Concordia or in your community.
Health Canada stresses that "tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of premature death and disease in Canada."
If you use tobacco, quitting is the most important thing you can do to enhance and maintain optimal health.
This section summarizes the most important information you need to know about quitting smoking. For additional infomation consult the "For Those Who Want to Know More" section below.
The typical smoker takes 10-12 puffs per cigarette. Someone who smokes 10 cigarettes a day will send 100-120 puffs of smoke into their lungs. Each puff contains over 4,000 compounds, many of which are toxic and known to cause cancer or other health problems.
In the booklet "How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease" the CDC points out that:
"If you spilled drain cleaner on your skin, it would hurt and become inflamed. If you did this many times a day, your skin would not have a chance to heal. It would stay red, irritated, and inflamed. The organs in your body also have a lining of cells similar to skin. Chemicals in tobacco smoke cause inflammation and damage to these cells. When you keep smoking, the damage cannot heal."
The compounds in tobacco smoke don't only stay in your lungs, they get absorbed into your bloodstream and circulate throughout your entire body and cause damage.
Some of the benefits of becoming smoke-free include:
- a decreased risk for many cancers, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and numerous other health problems
- better fertility (in both men and women) as well as fewer pregnancy complications
- more money and time
- eliminate harm to family members (including children), pets and others from second-hand smoke
- ...and many, many, many more!
There are dozens of great reasons to quit smoking!
Decide to Quit
The first step to smoke-free living is to make a firm decision to stop using tobacco. The majority of smokers would like to quit. Some things to think about that can help with your decision include:
- Acknowledge that you are addicted to nicotine, and when your brain doesn’t get nicotine it leads to negative emotions. These negative emotions will go away.
- Remember: there are twice as many Canadians who used to smoke and have successfully quit than those who continue to smoke. Millions of people on this planet have quit smoking. YOU CAN TOO!
- Think of the reasons why you want to quit.
- Review all the wonderful benefits of quitting…there are dozens!
- Calculate how much money you will keep for yourself rather than give to cigarette companies.
Those who have a plan are more likely to succeed at becoming smoke-free. Some things to consider when making your plan include:
- When will you quit? Determine a date and write it down.
- How will you quit? Will you:
- How does using tobacco fit with what is important to you (i.e. your values)? How does quitting fit with what is important to you? By answering these questions you will likely realize that smoking is not consistent with the things that are important to you (e.g. money, family, health etc.)
- How will quitting smoking help you achieve your life goals?
- What are your strengths and how can you use them to quit smoking?
- What things can you do to deal with the negative emotions that you may experience when you quit?
- Are there any negative thoughts about quitting that can interfere with your success? What are they? How can you think more positively about quitting?
- Do you believe in any of the myths about smoking/quitting? Take a critical look at these myths.
- What things have helped you remain smoke-free when you have quit in the past? Can you use any of these strategies during this quit?
- Why did you go back to smoking when you have quit in the past? What can you do to prevent this from happening again this time?
- Who can support you during your quit? How can they support you?
- What are your smoking triggers? What can you do to avoid them or manage them?
Now that you are prepared, it is time to quit. You might decide to cut down to quit or to quit “cold turkey”. Either way, there are some things you can do to make the early days easier.
Be good to yourself in the early days
- Take it easy; do things you enjoy
- Go to bed early
- Eat healthfully
- Get some physical activity
- Avoid alcohol (alcohol is among the top reasons why people go back to smoking)
Know your “triggers”
- Avoid them
- If that's not possible, have a plan to deal with them
Have a list of tools to deal with the cravings and use them
- Some of the best tools are to remind yourself:
- what is happening in the brain
- of the reasons you are quitting
- write them down and refer to them
- of the numerous and desirable benefits of going smoke-free
- of the money and time you will save
- that cravings are a normal part of the quit process and they are temporary…THEY GO AWAY!!!
- that quitting is by far the #1 thing you can do to enhance and protect your health
- Relaxation exercises can be very useful, especially deep breathing
- Distraction can help. See “101 things to do besides smoking”
- Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT)
Structure a smoke-free environment
- throw out cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays
- avoid places and people that could encourage you to smoke
Talk with supportive friends/family members
- Remember why you are doing this. Focus on all the wonderful benefits of becoming and remaining smoke-free.
Have strategies to deal with the “symptoms of recovery”
- Identify any negative thinking, stop it and replace it with positive thoughts
Take it one day at a time
The American writer Mark Twain once said that "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times." He highlights that quitting is the first big step to becoming smoke-free. The next big step is to remain smoke free.
In the first few weeks after you quit continue to use the tips presented in the section above. Of greatest importance is to remember why you have chosen to quit smoking (it is the best thing you can do to enhance your health) and to remember that the urge to smoke will go away whether you smoke or you don't. You also want to be prepared to deal with any uncomfortable feelings that may arise when you quit smoking by having a repetoire of effective coping strategies. These negative feelings will go away!
Don't let a slip turn in to a replase. Should you have a slip, see "In case of a slip" for information on how to get back on track.
When smokers are asked if they would like to quit smoking, the majority say that they do.
Currently in Canada there are almost twice as many ex-smokers than current smokers. This means that significantly more people have started and quit than have started and continued.
Concordia students, staff and faculty can meet with a Health Promotion Specialist for free one-on-one smoking cessation counselling. If you are not a member of the Concordia community, you can receive professional support from the Quit-Smoking Centre at your Health and Social Service Centre CSSS (type in your postal code to find the centre nearest you).
- If you are doing your own research on the Internet, be sure you know how to evaluate the reliability of information on the Internet
- Your Guide to Quitting Smoking for Good