Tobacco has been consumed by humans for hundreds of years. It gained in popularity when it was brought back to Europe from the New World sometime around the 15th -16th centuries. It was initially consumed by the upper classes, and it provided an economic impetus for establishing new colonies in the Americas. As tobacco gained in popularity, few could even guess the damage smoking can do to the human body.
As of the year 2000, over 1.2 billion people smoked tobacco. Sadly, the trend is on the increase as more people being to consume tobacco in developing nations. Companies mercilessly target youth in developing nations and get them hooked on a deadly product. The health effects of tobacco are negative, numerous and well documented. Nobody can deny that consuming tobacco is dangerous for one's health. There have been numerous studies linking tobacco usage with multiple types of cancers, emphysema and various other diseases. In the 20th century alone, an estimated 100 million people lost their lives to tobacco caused illnesses. This is about as much as the death tolls from both World War One and World War Two.
Obviously, tobacco is detrimental to one's health. But why is tobacco so well spread?
Nicotine. This chemical is highly addictive, and has been compared to heroin and cocaine in terms of addictive potency. It is extremely hard to break a nicotine addiction. The American Heart Association states that "nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break". Being an ex smoker, i can relate to the pain. Smoking cigarettes would dissipate hunger,clear the mind, settle the nerves, and hell, it felt pretty cool. Every smoker can relate to the feeling of a cigarette after a good meal, or a hard day.
But they can also relate to the expense of buying cigarettes, that awful smell and the sickness it could induce. Not to mention the horrible damage it does to one's body. Anyone that has unfortunately lost a loved one to tobacco can tell you how damaging tobacco can be. Not starting smoking is probably one of the best decisions a young person can make. Unfortunately the old saying "youth is wasted on the young" rings true. Tobacco companies target youth on purpose, knowing that this is the most vulnerable demographic. Get them hooked young, and they will most likely stay hooked forever. For those of us who made some bad choice's early in life, there is still hope. Quitting smoking is quite possible, but you need to have a strong will and be determined to quit. Here are three tips that served me well in the battle against tobacco.
1. Although you may be tempted to quit for someone else, like a loved one or your partner, do not. The only way to truly quit is to quit for yourself. Only you can decide when you are ready, and that is the most important thing to do when quitting tobacco. You have to prepare yourself mentally and physically to quit.
2.Quit cold turkey, but replace your addiction with something else. The best way (in my opinion) to quit is to quit cold turkey. Stop right away, but replace that act of smoking with something else. A lot of us are social smokers, and it is more of a ritual than a necessity for some people. Examples of replacement "addictions" include chewing non-nicotine gum, going for a brisk run, or drinking a glass of water every time a craving strikes. The important thing to remember is the three day hump. For most smokers, once they pass three days with no nicotine, the cravings decline markedly.
3.Set goals. An example would be to treat yourself to a nice meal at your one month quitting anniversary. A good strategy used by my father was to set aside all the money he would have spent on tobacco into a bank account for a new car. Within a year, he was able to set aside enough for a good portion of a payment on a car. It is important to reward yourself, because the humans crave gratification. For most of us, thats why we started smoking in the first place.
I hope these tips serve you as well as they have served me. Quitting smoking is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary. Nobody wants to throw money away on something that will almost surely result in an early, agonizing death. Not to mention all of the stigma it brings while you are doing it. To recap, plan when to quit, quit cold turkey but replace the act with something benign, and reward yourself when you reach your quitting milestones. Hopefully, you can kick the habit and join a growing group of happy ex-smokers.
P.S. Be very careful if you consume any amount of alcohol after you have quit smoking. In my case, even one beer would trigger fairly heavy cravings, so quitters beware. Alcohol has a nasty way of ruining even the best-laid quitting plans.