Here's one of the greatest understatements you'll hear this year: it is terribly hard to quit smoking. In truth, stopping (and staying stopped) can be extremely difficult to achieve.
And if you are one of the many who have tried to kick the habit (perhaps on more than one occasion), you may be left thinking it's not worth all the effort after all. But here's the good news. Research has shown that the benefits of smoking cessation start almost immediately.
To put further light on this matter, Dr Cassy Richmond provides you with some of the best reasons to quit smoking.
Why are cigarettes so addictive?
It is well-known that cigarette smoking is harmful to your health. It can lead to cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and a range of cancers.
Despite knowing the detrimental effects of cigarettes, however, many people continue to smoke. This is because cigarettes contain nicotine (amongst thousands of other dangerous chemicals!) and nicotine is a highly addictive substance.
In fact, nicotine has both a sedating and stimulating effect on the central nervous system. While it causes feelings of calm and relaxation for the smoker, it also helps him or her to feel energised (also known as a 'smoker's high').
However, once these pleasurable effects wear off usually within 30 minutes of the last cigarette feelings of fatigue may set in. This often triggers nicotine cravings, and a desire to return to the enjoyable feelings experienced while smoking a cigarette.
When a regular smoker tries to quit, he or she often has withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, sleep disturbances, and powerful cravings. It is a vicious cycle.
What are the health benefits of quitting?
Most by-products of nicotine are eliminated from the body within five days of stopping. At this time, your sense of taste and smell will improve. At the three-month mark, lung function will start to recover.
At one-year, the risk of coronary artery disease is likely to have halved, compared to if you had continued to smoke. Moreover, a Harvard-based study has found that the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke is likely to diminish dramatically within five years of quitting.
And just in case you needed additional incentive to act now, a 50-year follow-up British study has shown that the health benefits of quitting are greatest when you stop early in life. But it's never too late there are health gains from quitting at any age.
But wait! There are many more benefits of quitting
As you may already know, cigarette smoking causes premature ageing (read: sagging complexion, wrinkled, leathery skin and the development of age spots).This occurs because the skin of a smoker is deprived of many essential nutrients, including oxygen. Luckily, however, stopping smoking may halt this accelerated ageing process by delaying the appearance of wrinkles.
In addition, giving up cigarettes will reduce your chances of developing unsightly, stained teeth. Ergh! It will also help you to maintain fresher breath, and reduce your chances of gum disease.
Because cigarettes affect the body's blood flow, quitting can lead to an enhanced sex life. For men, this may mean better erectile function. Women may notice that that they are able to become aroused more easily, and that their orgasms improve.
If pregnancy is on your 'to do' list, you will be interested to note that stopping smoking may improve your fertility. It will also improve your chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Now, let's not ignore the massive elephant prancing about the room. Cigarette smoking is not only potentially costly to your health, it also burns a deep hole in your pocket. These days, a pack of 25 cigarettes costs about $15. So just think how much money you can save by kicking the habit for good!
Have your say: share your quitting tips!