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  • Butt Out: How and Why to Quit Smoking

  • "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." - Mark Twain

    Smoking cessation may be one of the most difficult steps in a smoker's life, but it is also one of the most important. More than 435,000 Americans die each year from illnesses attributed to smoking, according to the Center for Disease Control. Smoking causes illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, problems with pregnancy, and lung disease. By educating yourself and committing to quit, you can keep your life from going up in smoke.

    Nicotine, a drug found naturally in tobacco, is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, not only do people become chemically addicted, but also emotionally addicted, meaning smokers must conquer both physical and mental dependence. Because of this, quitting can be a daunting task, but certainly not an impossible one.

    No SmokingWhy Should You Quit?

    The list of why you should not smoke is far longer than the list of why you should. About half of all smokers who keep smoking will end up dying from a smoking-related illness. Most people know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few realize that it is a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, too, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidney, cervix, stomach and some lukemias. Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as non-smokers. Male smokers are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction because of blood vessel disease. Women over 35 who smoke and who also take birth control pills have a higher risk of hear attack, stroke and blood clots of the legs.

    The list of illnesses linked to smoking is long, long enough that people who stop smoking before the age of 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half. Kick the habit, not the bucket.

    What Am I Up Against?

    When smokers decide to quit, sometimes good intentions do not always yield good results. Most often this is due to withdrawal symptoms as the body experiences a lack of nicotine. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of smoking the last cigarette, peaking about 2 to 3 days later, and lasting up to several weeks. The most important thing to realize is that no matter how unpleasant symptoms are, they will wane with time.

    Withdrawal symptoms can include:

    • Dizziness
    • Depression
    • Irritability or anxiety
    • Headaches
    • Increased appetite
    • Sleep disturbances (most frequently having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, or having nightmares)

    Get Ready, Get Set, Quit