The consumption of tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the developed world. It has been estimated that 12 million deaths have been caused by smoking over the past 40 years in the US alone. Tobacco use not only harms the smoker. It has been recognised for a number of years that second hand smoke also constitutes a health hazard. Over 126 million Americans, many of them children, are subject to second hand smoke and almost 50 thousand die each year as a consequence.

Five ways to quit smoking

About 9 out of 10 lung cancer cases are caused by cigarette smoking. Overall, 1 in 3 cancers can be directly attributed to smoking. Smoking not only induces cancer Plug Play Pods . Smoking is a leading cause of lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis. Tobacco use raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Smokers are estimated to die on average 14 years earlier than non-smokers. Although nicotine is the main addictive agent in tobacco, and a highly potent toxin in its own right, it is not responsible for the cancer causing properties of smoking. Of the 4000 chemicals identified in tobacco smoke about 40 are classified as carcinogenic, or cancer causing. Carbon monoxide present in tobacco smoke has been shown to be responsible for a range of vascular and cardiac diseases. Tar is a major component of tobacco smoke and results in lung damage which can lead to emphysema and lung cancer.

Most of the adverse health consequences of tobacco smoke are caused by direct tobacco use however, second hand smoke is also associated with harmful effects. Second hand smoke relates to the smoke produced by the burning cigarette end and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of a non-smoker developing heart disease by 25%; lung cancer risk increases by 30%. Developing children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke. Second hand smoke has been conclusively shown to be a risk factor in sudden infant death syndrome. Research also indicates that the children of smokers are more likely to take up the habit in later life.

Quitting smoking is never going to be easy but the health benefits of stopping are almost immediate. Within days the risk of stroke and heart attack are significantly reduced. In common with most drug addictions multiple attempts are often required before the smoker finally quits. Some smokers are able to stop without aids or help although many require some form of assistance and there are a variety of aids and programs available to help the smoker quit. Statistics show that those smokers receiving some form of behavioural help or medication have higher overall quit rates than those stoic souls going it alone.

Smoking rates in the US have declined markedly over the past 40 years, although there is still room for improvement as currently approximately 60 million Americans remain regular smokers. This trend has been mirrored in other developed nations. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, smoking incidences remain high. The challenge and goal for the 21st century, through education and legislation, is to further reduce smoking rates world wide. In particular, young people need to be made aware of the devastating consequences of taking up the smoking habit.

Just like weight loss, there are many commercial products available that claim to be able to help you quit smoking. You’ve likely seen many ads on television for products with Chantix and Zyban being the most well-known. However, there are other stop-smoking products that actually have more pros to them than these. The following is a general rating of some of the most popular methods of quitting smoking to help you decide which one may be of most benefit.

1. Cold turkey. No, this isn’t a product; it’s the method of stopping smoking on your own without the use of any products. You pick a day you want to quit and you just do it. The pro to this method is that it’s cost free. That’s basically it. The cons are that quitting smoking cold turkey is the least successful of all the methods, with only 3% of people succeeding at quitting. The reason for the high failure rate of this method is that your body goes through withdrawal of the chemical nicotine from your blood. Symptoms include anxiety, hyperirritability, insomnia, inability to concentrate and depression, which can last 3 months or more. My opinion: This method doesn’t get my vote.

2. Chantix, Zyban. These are popular, commercial anti-smoking products that are available by prescription. They work about the same, helping your body withdraw from nicotine gradually. Chantix offers a support system, however, Zyban does not. In addition, like most prescription drugs they both come with side effects. Chantix’s side effects include nausea, sleep disturbances, constipation, flatulence, vomiting, plus “additional effects” not cited. Zyban is actually the drug Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, which acts to counter one of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking – depression. Like most antidepressants, however, Zyban can have serious side effects such as dry mouth, insomnia, headaches, agitation, jitters (shakiness), appetite increase, and even seizures (though rarely, reports the literature). My opinion: I think there are better, safer, nonprescription ways to go about quitting smoking.

3. Hypnosis. Hypnosis works, in theory, by placing suggestions in the hypnotized person’s subconscious mind while they are in a state of light sleep. It can work well as a relaxation device, which may be what some smokers need to help them quit. However, some people are resistant to hypnosis and for them hypnosis likely will not work. For people who are open to the idea hypnosis may be helpful. My opinion: Used in conjunction with other therapies, hypnosis can be beneficial for relaxation and reinforcement of the positive benefits of quitting smoking.

4. Laser. Actually works more like acupuncture or acupressure in helping stop smoking where laser energy is applied to specific points on hands, wrists, ears, face that correspond to addiction in humans, resulting in stimulating endorphin producing nerve pathways. Endorphins are “feel good” hormones that decrease stress and help you relax, therefore, decreasing the need for “stress smoking”. Laser therapy ads claim 85% to 90% success rate, but actually the rates are much lower. Plus these treatments are costly and there are no guarantees. My opinion: I think there are better, cheaper ways to quit smoking.

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