While it is best for the body not to have smoked at all, quitting smoking provides improvements in health.
Problems with Smoking
Cigarette smoking is a dangerous and expensive habit. It costs the U.S. billions of dollars in productivity loss and skyrocketing healthcare costs. The human life cost of smoking is staggering: it is the “number one cause of preventable disease and death” in the world. 69 of the 4800 chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause cancer, including lung cancer, and smoking is also responsible for most cases of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, emphysema) deaths. Most people start smoking under the age of 21, and more smokers are male. Smoking for women during pregnancy accounts for increases in premature deliveries, low birth weight babies, and even infant deaths. Babies of smokers tend to have reduced lung functioning and narrowed airways. Smokers have physical and psychological addictions that pair smoking with certain other habits and activities. Nicotine is the cause of the addiction. Smoking is difficult to quit, and it often takes multiple attempts.1 It is best to avoid starting the habit. 1 out of 5 deaths in the U.S. is caused by smoking. Besides death, smoking also contributes to yellow teeth, wrinkles, bad breath, loss of bone density, osteoporosis, fertility problems (especially when combining smoking with hormone forms of birth control), decreases in athletic performance, and greater risks of injury and illnesses. Asthma, flu, colds, and pneumonia are some of the diseases that smoking can increase. Some smokers may use cigarettes for weight control, leading to nutritional and immune system problems.2 Smoking could cause heart attacks and stroke, and secondhand smoke can trigger breathing problems and asthma.3
Hookahs and E-Cigarettes
While some people may smoke tobacco cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, others use hookahs. These are “water pipes used to smoke tobacco through a hose”. They are not safer than cigarettes, despite the myth. They don’t have filters, and there is more germ transmission because they are shared. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are now on the market because they release a water vapor instead of second-hand cigarette smoke. They also have “cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins” as well as nicotine. E-cigarettes may not be safe, and they have not been FDA-evaluated.4 The World Health Organization (WHO) does not endorse e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking “until a reputable national regulatory body has found them safe and effective”. There is no regulation of the e-cigarettes’ contents, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns about the presence of nicotine.5
Ways to Quit Smoking
Traditional methods of smoking cessation include nicotine replacement therapy, medications, and support groups.6 Smokers are urged to avoid activities that trigger the urge to smoke. Chewing gum, deep breathing, changing routines, exercises, drinking water, and sleep are some other recommended coping methods.7 Chewing tobacco is not a safe replacement. Along with the nicotine dangers, smokeless tobacco carries cancer risks for the mouth, stomach, esophagus, and pancreas, as well as gum disease, tooth loss, and bone loss around the teeth.8 Nicotine-replacement products include the Nicoderm patch, Nicorette gum and lozenge, and the Nicotrol inhaler and nasal spray. Some medications may also be prescribed, such as Chantix, Wellbutrin, or Zyban. Counseling could also be suggested. There are natural methods of quitting, such as hypnosis, acupuncture, and laser therapy (“low intensity lasers (light beams) on…the body”) that smokers can use as an alternative to nicotine and prescriptions when kicking the habit.9 Some chiropractic offices offer smoking cessation programs that include nutrition, homeopathy, adjustments, acupuncture, laser therapy, and more.10
Learn more about issues with addiction.