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The Real Facts About Smoking
So if you have not tried smoking, don't try! If you have already started, stop now!
Have you ever tried smoking. Maybe your friends who smoke gave you a cigarette. Or maybe you thought it would be "cool." Yet your first puff was probably not pleasant. You coughed and your throat burned. You might have felt sick to your stomach or dizzy as smoke entered your lungs.
These reactions make sense when you consider what cigarette smoke does to your body.
Young people are more likely to smoke if they are living in households where a parent or an older brother or sister smokes. Nearly 90% of smokers start smoking as teenagers. Today, 20% of high school senior girls are regular smokers, compared to 16% of boys. According to a teen drug abuse survey, almost 66% of high school seniors have tried smoking at one time or another. Although still high, these numbers are much lower than the figures from 5 or 10 years ago. As young people learn what happens to smokers, they make the healthy choice. They choose not to start.
Smoking is Addictive
It takes only a short time to become addicted to nicotine. This is true of chewing tobacco and snuff, as well as cigarettes. If you are a smoker, you will know you are addicted when you find yourself craving cigarettes and feeling nervous without them. You will really know you are addicted when you try to quit smoking and can't. Quitting can be hard for addicted smokers, and it can take a long time. Often people must try several times before they succeed. The longer you smoke, the harder it is to stop.
Smoking is Unattractive and Unhealthy
Studies have shown that smoking is harmful to your health. Most people know that, but not everyone knows about how smoking affects what you look like and how people relate to you. Smoking causes bad breath and stained teeth. Smoking often makes other people not want to be around you. Even if you do not smoke, you may notice a strong odor of cigarettes in your clothes after being near someone who smokes.
According to an American Cancer Society survey, 78% of boys aged 12 to 17 said they do not want to date someone who smokes. Among girls, 69% said they preferred to date someone who does not smoke.
Coaches require that athletes not smoke. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen the bloodstream can deliver to the body. The result is that the athlete who smokes may not be able to swim or run as well as nonsmoking athletes.
The lungs of anyone who smokes do not deliver oxygen as efficiently as do the lungs of most nonsmokers. This is not only harmful to health, but can also result in poor athletic performance.
Nicotine is a harmful substance in tobacco smoke that can cause you to become dizzy and feel sick to your stomach. Not only that, but nicotine causes the heart to beat faster and work less effectively.
Many smokers develop an annoying cough. This is caused by the chemicals in cigarette smoke. These irritating substances damage the tiny hairs (called cilia) that line the lungs and help sweep dirt and waste products out. Depending on how much you smoke, your lungs become gray and "dirty," instead of pink and healthy.
Each time you take a puff on a cigarette, you inhale thousands of poisonous chemicals. Early warning signs that smoking is harming you include dizziness, coughing, and burning of the eyes, nose, and throat.
The following late effects are far worse:
Chewing and Smokeless Tobacco are also Harmful
- Smokers get cancer. Smokers are more than 10 times as likely to die of lung cancer than nonsmokers. The odds are higher for people who smoke a lot, smoke for many years, and/or inhale deeply.
- Smoking doubles the chances of heart disease.
- Smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis, a serious lung infection, and emphysema, a crippling lung disease. The younger a person starts smoking, the greater the risk of these diseases.
- Smoking by pregnant women increases the risks of premature birth, underweight babies, and infant deaths. Women who quit smoking before or during pregnancy reduce the risk of adverse reproductive outcomes.
- Smoking harms nonsmokers as well as smokers. When nonsmokers are around people who smoke, they absorb nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other ingredients of tobacco smoke just as smokers do. The effect smoking has on nonsmokers is called "passive smoking."
- People who are subject to passive smoking, such as children of parents who smoke, can suffer from a variety of ailments. They are more likely than other people to develop ear and lung infections, heart disease, and cancer.
Tobacco is not found only in cigarettes. Chewing tobacco and snuff (smokeless tobacco) are also dangerous to your health. Smokeless tobacco can cause cancer, especially in the cheeks, gums, and throat. These substances also lead to a decreased sense of taste and smell. Users run the risk of getting gum disease, which can lead to loss of teeth.
Immediately after using smokeless tobacco, the gums and lips can sting, crack, bleed, and wrinkle. Sores and white patches may appear. Mouth wounds in people who use smokeless tobacco take longer to heal.
There is help
Quitting is possible, and is a must if you want the best for yourself and those around you. If you ignore warning signals and continue to smoke, your body will change. It will get used to the smoke. You will not cough or feel sick every time you puff on a cigarette. Yet the damage to your body continues and worsens each time you smoke.
In order to quit, you must be strong. Get help from family and friends. Try again if you do not succeed the first time. Deciding to stop is up to you. Once you make that commitment, you can get help from our office. If you are interested in learning how to stop smoking, please ask us for help.
Be Cool. Don't smoke.
Ads are designed to encourage people to smoke, but never mention the harmful effects, such as bad breath, stained teeth, heart disease, and mouth and lung cancer. As one teenager put it, “kissing a boy/girl who smokes is like kissing a dirty ashtray."
How To Quit Smoking
Getting ready to quit
On Quitting Day
- Set a date for quitting. Try to convince a friend to quit with you, so you'll have mutual support.
- Notice when, where, and how you smoke. List the times when you usually light up--with morning coffee, after a meal, while driving, or whatever your usual smoking occasions are.
- Change your smoking routines. Keep your cigarettes in a different place, don't hold your cigarette in the hand you are used to using, switch brands, and don't carry on any other activity - like reading, driving, talking on the phone, or watching TV - while you smoke.
- Designate one place to smoke-like the back porch-and don't smoke anywhere else.
- When you want a cigarette, wait a few minutes before you light up. Try doing something else, like chewing gum or drinking a glass of water, and see if the urge passes.
- Buy only one pack of cigarettes at a time.
- Ask your doctor about medications that ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cigarette cravings. You may want to have nicotine patches or gum on hand, ready for quit day.
- Get rid of all your cigarettes and put away your ashtrays.
- Change your morning routines, especially where and when you eat breakfast. Try sitting somewhere else, or going out to eat.
- When you get the urge to smoke, do something else instead.
- Carry substitutes to put in your mouth, such as chewing gum, hard candy, or toothpicks.
- Reward yourself at the end of the day (but not with a cigarette).
Smoking Cessation Medications (These can be used in combination if not effective alone)
- Don't be upset if you feel sleepy or short-tempered. These are symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, and they will go away in a few days.
- Exercise regularly. Go for walks, ride a bike, or take part in sports you enjoy.
- Think about the positive aspects of not smoking: your self-image as someone who has kicked the habit, the health benefits you and your family get from living in a smoke-free environment, and the example you set for others.
- When you feel tense, think about the problem that is creating those feelings and try to solve it. Tell yourself that smoking won't make it better.
- Eat regular meals, so you don't have times when you feel hungry and confuse that feeling with the desire to smoke.
- Put the money you would have spent on cigarettes in a money-jar every day, and watch it mount up.
- Let other people know you have stopped smoking. Your friends who still smoke may want to know how you did it.
- If you break down and smoke a cigarette, don't give up. Many former smokers made several attempts to stop before they succeeded. Quit again!
Resources On The Internet
- Electronic Cigarette: www.thesafecig.com The Safe Cig1-866-99 SAFE CIG (1-866-997-2332)
- Patches (Nicoderm and Habitrol): Worn 24 hours/day: 21 mg X 6 weeks, then14 mg X 2 weeks, then 7 mg X 2 weeks.
- Nicotine Nasal Spray: 1-2 sprays in each nostril per hour, at least 8 times/day, to a maximum of 80 sprays/day (can be used up to 3 months).
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin-Zyban): 150 mg per day X 3 days, then 150 mg 2X/day for 7-12 weeks.
- Nicotine Gum: Chew at least one piece every 1-2 hours. Maximum/day: 2 mg size: 30 pieces or 4 mg: 20 pieces.
- Chantix (prescription)
This information should not be used as substitute for the medical care and advice of your child’s physician. Health related topics found on the Andorra Pediatrics web site should not be used for diagnosing purposes or be substituted for medical advice. As with any new or ongoing treatment, always consult your professional healthcare provider before making any changes in treatment or beginning any new treatment. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office.
- PA Free Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
- Action on Smoking and Health - www.ash.org
- Office of Smoking and Health - www.cdc.gov/tobacco
- American Cancer Society - www.cancer.org
- Phillip Morris Anti-Smoking Site: http://www.philipmorrisusa.com/en/health_issues/default.asp