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Harmful effects to the body from smoking cigarettes and why to quit.

Updated on October 3, 2014

Smoking is not cool

Why do people smoke?

Smoking has been an enjoyable recreational activity since the dawn of man. Throughout the centuries people have smoked for various reasons and enjoyed various types of substances to smoke. Some include religious ceremonies, to be social, addiction, relaxation, cigarettes, cigars, hookah pipes, marijuana, etc...

Although smoking is not internally relaxing to the body, it is to the mind and the act of deep breathing and inhalation gives many a sense of calm and inner peace.

In modern day movies you see smokers that always "save the day" they are the ones to be counted on when a fire is needed, or perhaps a bomb to be lit.

Smoking has been depicted as cool, macho, classy, sophisticated, sexy and mature.

But in the last 40-50 years great discoveries have been made that prove smoking is one bad habit that will more than likely put you in an early grave.

Smoking is no longer cool. Dying of COPD, Emphysema, Lung Cancer or other smoking related death is just irresponsible in this day and age. Besides that, who wants to die gasping for air, like a fish out of water?

"It's not the coughing often, It's the coffin they'll carry you off in"

Nicotine And You

How does Nicotine when smoked via traditional cigarettes effect your health?

Nicotine is a highly addictive central nervous stimulant. Some research suggests it is more addictive then Heroin. But as harmless as caffeine, it's all the additives in a cigarette that kills you.

When Nicotine is inhaled it only takes 10-20 seconds to reach your brain. Once there, your brain releases Dopamine. Your "feel good" neurotransmitter. The basic action works like this;

  1. New Nicotine is inhaled
  2. Your brain releases Dopamine, and you feel good
  3. Your blood level of Nicotine begins to fall
  4. You begin craving more Nicotine

Addiction ensues.

The nasty side of Nicotine produces multiple side effects on the human body, harmful mainly in extremely high doses. When you use the manner of cigarette smoking to deliver your desired level of Nicotine you now change the playing field and introduce your body to some 4000+ carcinogens, courtesy of top Tobacco MFGs that want you to stay addicted and pay their hefty inflated salaries!

Immediate Effects of Quitting Smoking

So now you have a brief over-view of smoking addiction. Since this article is not about smoking as much as it is about what happens when you quit, let me cover the benefits of quitting NOW.

The best part about stopping an addictive habit is that you really only have to do it once. Withdrawal sucks, lets face it. If you can quit once and be done for the rest of your life, GREAT!

  • 20 minutes without a cigarette. Your heart rate drops within 20 minutes and begins to behave as a non-smoker.
  • The first 12 hours. The carbon monoxide (a gas that can be toxic) in your blood drops to normal, this happens within 12 hours.
  • 2 weeks-3 months. Your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lungs are working better, 2 weeks-3 months.
  • 1-9 months after quitting. Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease and your lungs start to function better, lowering your risk of lung infection. 1-9 months
  • 1 year! Within a year your risk for heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
  • Your sex drive will increase from more oxygen in your blood!
  • Your risk of having a stroke is the same as someone who doesn't smoke.
  • 10 years! In 10 years your risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker's. Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidneys, and pancreas also decreases.
  • 15 years! In 15 years your risk of heart disease is now the same as someone who doesn't smoke.

More importantly than what is listed above, your first week as a non smoker is full of instant rewards

  • More cash in your pocket! Cigarettes are expensive, and the average adult smoker will burn through half a pack to a pack a day.
  • Children of smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves, you're setting a positive example by not smoking!
  • You will not smell like an ashtray! In fact, you will smell lovely! And you won't need to wash your hair or all your clothes as often.
  • Your smokers cough will begin to go away, mine was gone within a month.
  • You will have more energy, your teeth will become much whiter, you won't run out of breath from simple activities
  • You won't be burdened by needing a "smoke" always looking for lighters, worrying about running out of cigarettes.
  • Your sense of taste and smell will begin to function as they were designed! This has been my favorite part!

How Do I Quit?

Quitting smoking is a lifestyle change. Especially if you have been doing it for years. Your mind and body have been poisoned and programmed to live life around your addiction. The first step is making the decision to put your health and sobriety as the MOST important goal you have. Quitting is a hard process. And you may not be successful at your first attempt. Do not let this discourage you. Withdrawal is also different for everyone, so be gentle on yourself as you begin your new life as a non-smoker.

There are many resources and products you can use to aid yourself in becoming Nicotine free. And there is nothing wrong with using these things if the end result is no more addiction. As with any chemical dependency quitting this habit will require behavior modification.


A week before that date comes

  • Make a list of all the reasons you want to be a non-smoker and keep that list with you. Read it from time to time
  • If you've decided to use any smoking cessation products (gum, patches, vapers) buy those now
  • begin to get rid of your "smoking supplies" cut down on your daily smoking.
  • The night before, get rid of all ashtrays, lighters, and other items you may use to smoke.
  • Tell an understanding loved one or close friend of your quit date, this will help hold you accountable and give you someone to call when you feel overwhelmed with a craving

A few warnings on the first 3 months

During the first few months you may find yourself going through these withdrawal symptoms, this is normal, and as long as you are aware of this you will know how to deal with them

  • Irritability
  • cravings (not only to smoke, but for sweets as well)
  • headaches
  • dehydration
  • restlesness
  • bad breath
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • temporary weight gain
  • dreaming of smoking (that's an annoying one!)

How long have you been a non-smoker

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Helpful tips

The day of and the remainder of your life!

  • Find and plan alternative activities for when you have a craving. This may include taking a walk instead of a smoke break. Sipping a nice cup of tea slowly, drinking more water, munching on carrots or other crunchy veggies, placing a rubber-band on your wrist and when you have an urge to smoke, flicking it until the urge passes, taking nice long deep breaths. The average craving for nicotine lasts 3-7 minutes, and they will decrease the longer you don't smoke.
  • When a craving comes, do something that distracts you from it, run in place, or repeat in your head "I'm a non-smoker" along with all the things that make you happy not smoking!
  • Slowly ween yourself off of the cessation products as you are comfortable doing so
  • Make it a point to remind yourself what you LOVE about not smoking! This may be the expense, the smell, decreased insurance premiums, nice bright white teeth, the smell of your perfume, or the taste of your food (no more drowning everything in hot sauce)!
  • Save money you'd use for buying cigarettes and go on a vacation, or treat yourself to a fancy meal, or "spa" day
  • Celebrate your progress and milestones! If you have made it 21 days, that is cause for celebration. It takes 21 days to change a habit, and only 3 to break it
  • Take up new hobbies that were not attainable when you were a smoker
  • Help someone else quit!

The human body is an amazing thing, it wants to be healthy, and it is capable of great recovery. Congratulations on your decision to be a non-smoker. Enjoy your journey to recovery!


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