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Smoking Effects on Health

By Dr. Vivek Nangia in Pulmonology

May 18 , 2022 | 5 min read

We all know that smoking is injurious to health, but despite that, there are around 120 million smokers in India. Irrespective of what they consume, cigarettes, bidis, hookahs, or sheeshas all are equally at risk. The purpose of this blog is to spread awareness about the harms of smoking and to encourage people to quit smoking.


Effect of smoking on health

Tobacco consists of almost 5000 harmful chemicals which enter your body when you smoke, and about 50 of them are known to produce cancer. These chemicals spread throughout the body and reach your vital organs such as the heart and brain merely in 10 seconds of your first puff, harming your body. Smoking can cause-


Cancer

  1. Lung Cancer
  2. Mesothelioma
  3. Cervical cancer
  4. Bladder Cancer
  5. Liver Cancer
  6. Stomach Cancer,
  7. Uterus Cancer, and
  8. Kidney Cancer

Skin

  1. Premature wrinkles and ageing

  2. Poor wound healing


Teeth

  1. Gum disease


Respiratory System

  1. Increased risk of bacterial infection

  2. Increased risk of viral infection

  3. Increased risk of Tuberculosis

  4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  5. Increased risk of Asthma


Cardiovascular System

  1. Increased risk of Stroke

  2. Increased risk of Heart Failure

  3. Peripheral Vascular Disease


Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus


Reproduction

  1. Infertility

  2. Risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STDs)


Why do you get addicted to smoking?

Smoking tobacco is highly addictive because of its Nicotine content. It releases a ‘feel-good’ chemical in your brain called dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone that uplifts your mood and helps you concentrate better, and provides energy. But the effect is not long-lasting. As soon as there is a drop in nicotine in your body, you tend to crave that same effect. Keep reading to find out how you can quit the addiction. 


How to quit smoking?

De-addiction appears to be difficult, but with the right guidance and sincere efforts, you can quit smoking.


  1. Find your reason

You need to find your personal motivation for quitting smoking. The reason can be to protect your family and friends from passive smoking or to prevent diseases such as lung cancer, bronchitis, heart diseases, and other lung diseases. You need to choose a concrete reason that you can stick to.


  1. Set a quit date

Set a realistic quit date and gradually taper your smoking habit. You can fix particular days or hours in which you won’t smoke. If you have the habit of smoking while working, then don’t smoke on weekends and gradually quit smoking completely.


  1. Let your family and friends know about your decision.

Support from family and friends will play a major role in this process so tell your family and friends about your decision so that they can motivate you throughout the journey of quitting smoking. 


  1. Identify your triggers

Identifying your triggers can take a few days, and for that, you can keep a craving journal in which you can note the time when you smoked and, what made you smoke, what were you feeling at that time. 


Avoid common triggers such as-

Alcohol- If you prefer smoking while drinking, then try opting for non-alcoholic drinks or try munching nuts to get rid of your temptation.

Post-meal- There are people who smoke after having their meal. If you are one of them, then you can take fruit, chocolate, or a sweet dish after your meal to get rid of your cravings.

Other smokers- If you smoke with other people, you can ask your friends if you have taken the decision to quit smoking. Probably they will also help you and cooperate with you by not smoking when they hang out with you.


Manage triggers

  1. Chew on something- Chew carrot, gums, sunflower seeds, hard candy, celery, nuts, or something crunchy that will satisfy you.
  2. Distract your mind- Distract your mind in your free time by reading books, listening to music, squeezing balls, and playing video games.
  3. Increase physical activities- Walking, running, squats, and jumping jacks are good exercises, to begin with. At the office, you may get up from your desk and move around and use stairs instead of escalators.  
  4. Stay hydrated- Drinking water helps you curb your cravings and minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Take rest- Find out alternative ways to relax your mind and body, such as meditation, exercises, reading a book, and taking a hot shower. 
  6. Keep lighter at bay- Don’t keep lighter or matchboxes in your pocket.

Join support groups

There are various online support groups, such as Facebook groups, in which people from all parts of the world write about their journey of quitting smoking. You can join those groups to stay motivated throughout the process. 


Take professional help

You may opt for professional help to make your path easier. There are various de-addiction programs that include-


  1. Medications

Nicotine replacement therapies- Consult your doctor about anti-smoking medications. There are nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine lozenges, gum, nasal spray, or inhaler that can provide small amounts of nicotine gradually throughout the day. It decreases your urge to smoke.

Non-nicotine medications- There are medications that help you quit smoking without nicotine. 


  1. Behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is an effective way to help individuals who are motivated to quit smoking. It deals with the management of trigger factors such as anxiety, addiction, and depression to enable the patient to get rid of triggers.  


  1. Motivational enhancement therapies- Patients who are reluctant to quit smoking may get encouragement with motivational enhancement therapies, which involve 5Rs.
  1. Relevance- You are encouraged to figure out how quitting smoking is relevant for you personally.
  2. Risks- You are made aware of the consequences of smoking.
  3. Rewards- You are asked about the possible benefits of smoking you believe in.
  4. Roadblocks- Next step is to identify the barriers that will hinder your way of quitting smoking. 
  5. Repetition- Motivation therapy is repeated every time there is an interaction with the clinician so that the reasons for quitting smoking get imbibed and you become motivated to quit smoking.  

  1. Nicotine Withdrawal

Quitting smoking makes you feel a bit different than usual, but it won’t do you any harm. The withdrawal symptoms will diminish gradually and won’t affect you provided you don’t smoke again.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms are- 

  1. Urge of smoking

  2. Irritation

  3. Restlessness

  4. Trouble concentrating

  5. Trouble sleeping

  6. Hunger/ Weight gain

  7. Anxiousness


You can manage these withdrawal symptoms by following the tips mentioned above, and you may also opt for professional help to make it easy,


Quitting smoking can be a difficult journey, but it is not impossible. Moreover, the rewards are phenomenal so if you or your loved ones want to quit smoking, consult our specialist now and take your first step towards a smoke-free life. 


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