Don’t let these misconceptions keep you from quitting.
By Christie Donnelly
We all know smoking has countless negative effects on our health—from discolored teeth, to heart disease and heart failure, to the development of cancers—but quitting can be extremely difficult. Common misconceptions about quitting smoking, like fear of gaining weight, can make it even tougher.
According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the smoking rate among Americans is historically low, at only 18 percent, down from over 21 percent in 2008. If you’re part of that 18 percent, it’s prime time to kick the habit. Not sure where to begin? Start by forgetting these common myths about smoking cessation.
About 80 percent of smokers who quit gain some weight, but the benefits of quitting far outweigh packing on a few pounds. In fact, one study by the National Institutes of Health found that former smokers without diabetes halved their risk of developing heart disease, despite gaining a moderate amount of weight. Plus, quitting improves lung and cardiovascular health, so following a regular exercise routine to stave off post-cessation weight gain may feel easier.
This myth is easy to debunk. While smoking cessation treatments, like patches or counseling, can cost a few hundred dollars, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $6.36, or $2,321.40 per year for a pack-a-day smoker. Plus, smoking-related illnesses and loss of productivity chalk up an additional $300 billion in US spending each year. Many insurance companies offer incentives and discounts for smoking cessation, so check with your provider, or try utilizing your state’s quitline, phone services dedicated to helping residents quit smoking.
Your smoking habit doesn’t only affect your health: Nonsmokers can be exposed to over 7,000 chemicals found in secondhand smoke. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), secondhand smoke causes 41,000 nonsmoker deaths every year in the United States; increases the risk of stroke and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent; and increases the risk of asthma, respiratory infections and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children.
If you’ve swapped cigarettes for cigars, snuff or chewing tobacco you’re still exposing yourself—and those around you—to toxic substances. Not only are they highly addictive tobacco products, but they’ve been linked to cancers of the mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, esophagus and pancreas. The bottom line? There’s no risk-free level of tobacco use.
Smoking is often considered a social activity, but quitting doesn’t mean you’ll lose your friends—especially if you take the time to explain why quitting is so important to you. You may even inspire some fellow smokers to quit themselves.
It’s true that it can take several attempts to quit smoking, but don’t feel discouraged if you have a slip-up. Rather, take the time to assess the situation: What made you crave a cigarette? How can you overcome cravings in the future? Try to take control of those stressful situations, so you can finally kick the habit.
If you have an addiction to smoking, it is best to recognize the problem and work on a plan to stop smoking for your overall health improvement. To quit smoking, you can create motivational tips for weaning yourself off cigarettes ... by a certain date and replacing that habit with a healthier habit such as walking or chewing sugar-free gum. Learn more from our experts how to create a cessation plan. More