The First Step To Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking is always unsafe. It has been observed that those people who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day are likely to take twice as many days off work annually than non-smokers. Forty percent of heavy smokers who are now aged 35 are likely to die before reaching their retiring age compared with only 18 percent for those who do not smoke at all. In America alone, smoking causes about 400,000 deaths annually.

Smoking poses countless dangers to a person's health, starting with the mouth and throat. The major risk of smoking is cancer. Tobacco smoke can also cause tooth decay and gum disease and can make the smoker's teeth yellow and unpleasing to the sight. As smoke passes through the esophagus, the tar that comes with it can trigger cancer. The smoke that reaches the bronchi contains hydrogen cyanide and other chemicals, which attack the bronchial lining causing inflammation thus increasing a person's susceptibility to bronchitis. The nicotine that is carried in the blood circulation causes a rise in blood pressure. Carbon monoxide results in the development of cholesterol deposits in the arterial walls that can cause stroke and heart attack. Smoking can cause ulcers in the intestines and can also cause diarrhea. Smoking can also affect the brain. Headaches are common to smokers and the lack of oxygen in the brain and narrowing of the blood vessels can lead to stroke. The most common danger we know about smoking is the adverse effect it has in the lungs. Lung cancer is 10 times more likely to develop in heavy smokers than non-smokers. Nicotine in cigarette smoke can also affect the heart. It makes the heart beat faster and work harder. Nicotine also makes the blood clot more easily, increasing a smoker's risk to heart attacks.

Even with all the imminent dangers that come with smoking, many heavy smokers still refuse to quit. Are all these health reasons not compelling enough for you to quit smoking?

In order to stop smoking you have to take the first step. Finding out why you smoke is a good first step to quitting. The following are statements based on the research conducted by the US Public Health Service. You have to give yourself a score in order to assess how intense your reasons are for smoking. Scoring would be as follows: Always true:5 points, Frequently true:4 points, Occasionally true: 3 points, Seldom true:2 points, Never true: 1 point. It is considered a high score if you get 11 or more in any category and 7 is considered low, while any score in between is average.

Stimulation: This is due to the physiological effect of nicotine. a. "Smoking keeps me going and stops me from slowing down." b. "Smoking perks me up." c. "Cigarettes give me a lift."

Handling: For some people the ritual of smoking is an important element that adds pleasure to the act of smoking. a. "Handling a cigarette is enjoyable." b. "I enjoy the lighting-up routine." c. "I like watching the smoke."

Relaxation: Smoking can provide both calming and stimulating effects. These effects are probably due to the rate and depth of inhalation although this assumption is not yet proven. a "I find smoking pleasant and relaxing." b. "Smoking is pleasurable." c. "I want a cigarette when I am most comfortable and relaxed."

Tension reduction: Most people use smoking to relieve themselves from stressful situations. a. "I smoke when I'm angry." b. "I smoke when I am uncomfortable." c. "Cigarettes take my mind off my worries."

Craving: Nicotine can be real addictive. a. "I cannot bear to be without cigarettes." b. "I am consciously aware of the times that I am not smoking." c. "I get a gnawing hunger for a cigarette when I haven't smoked for a while."

Habit: smoking is habit forming and can become an almost mechanical response. a. "I smoke cigarette automatically without being aware of it." b. "I light up when I already have cigarette going." c. "I have smoked without remembering lighting up."

If you get high scores for most categories, it means that the reasons you have for smoking are intense and complex. You may have difficulty quitting but strong motivations and the will power to stop smoking will still give you positive results. There may be times that you will fall back but always stay motivated and you will get to your goal.

By Michael Russell