Previously published on Yahoo January 17, 2010
You've probably seen the video of an old woman lighting her cigarette with one of 100 candles that fire up her birthday cake and thought, well, if she can make it to 100, so can I.
But let's examine your logic and let's look at statistics. According to the National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health, "Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths."
Are you willing to risk your life simply because you don't know how to quit smoking? And if you are pregnant, do you want to risk the life of your unborn child by continuing your smoking habit? According to the same source, "Women who smoke have a greater chance of certain pregnancy problems or having a baby die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)."
The habit of smoking is so difficult to break, it causes some people, in the final stages of emphysema, to request a cigarette even as they breathe their last breath. Loved ones standing by watch them die in agony, because dying from emphysema is a painful way to die. It is also frightening.
Smoking affects people with other lung problems as well. People who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, and other lung diseases feel the impact that smoking has on their lungs, because secondhand smoke restricts their airways and sometimes causes an attack.
To understand what somebody suffering from a lung affliction feels like while in the throes of an attack, imagine taking a straw and stuffing it with a couple of rolled up paper towels. Allow only a hairline of air to flow through the straw. Close your nostrils and wrap your lips around the straw.
Try breathing through the straw for a couple of minutes. You will soon notice that your heart is racing and your oxygen level is dropping. Not many people can last long with only a hairline of oxygen entering their lungs.
Besides health problems, other matters that result from smoking require attention. The tongue becomes coated with a smoky residue, teeth turn yellow, clothing and hair smells, and the capacity for exercise is greatly diminished. Smokers put at risk anyone who is around them.
So how can a smoker quit smoking? No one solution is perfect for everybody. From patches to hypnotism, smokers have to find something that works for THEM. The most important factor in quitting smoking, though, is readiness. Until smokers are ready to quit, they will not quit. And they may fail their first, their second, or even their third time.
Smoking is a habit, and smokers must learn to replace their smoking habit with healthy alternatives. Some former smokers eat when they can't smoke, but that remedy contributes to weight gain. Other smokers attempt an exercise routine, but give up quickly when they don't see immediate results. Readiness is key.
If you smoke and you are ready to quit smoking, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers smokers help in quitting. And that help comes in the form of free quit coaching, a free quit plan, and free educational materials. The CDC also refers smokers to local resources. Quit smoking now, by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669 - TTY 1-800-332-8615).
Photo courtesy of Morguefile