There’s no longer any doubt about it: Smoking tobacco products endangers your health more than just about any other toxin out there. The effects build up slowly, leading to denial on the part of the smoker that they are hooked, even as their body grows physiologically addicted to nicotine. Far too many people wait until serious health conditions develop, such as COPD and lung cancer.
There is hope, though. The sooner you quit, the better, and within minutes of quitting, your body begins to reap the benefits of being smoke-free. Still not convinced? Here are four reasons to quit, followed by four ways to finally becoming smoke-free for good.
1. You’ll Save a Ton of Money
A fantastic reason to ditch the smoking habit is financial in nature: Cigarettes are expensive, and the money you could save by quitting could add up very quickly. Just one pack of cigarettes can cost anywhere from $6 to $12, depending on where you are located. It doesn’t take long to do the corresponding math.
If you’re currently a pack-a-day smoker, you will save approximately $70 per week by quitting. That’s $3,640 saved by quitting by the end of the year, which is enough to reward yourself with a nice vacation. You’d save double that if you’re a two-pack-a-day smoker. Even if you only smoke a moderate one day per week, you will still have saved over $500 by the end of the year, which will make holiday gift buying a lot easier.
2. You’ll Improve Your Relationships
Smoking can really put a toll on your closest relationships, especially if your family and friends are non-smokers. They have a valid reason to be upset by you should you continue to smoke, because the risks of secondhand smoke have been proven again and again. Even if you smoke outdoors, the smell lingers on your clothes, and this can be a trigger for your loved ones who are unfortunate enough to suffer from allergies or an autoimmune disease.
Chances are that special someone has already approached you about quitting. So make them happy by following through.
3. You’ll Have a Better Smile
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your lungs, but it’s also terrible for your teeth. Smoking dries up saliva, which plays a key role in preventing tooth decay. When you have too little saliva, your teeth are more prone to decay. Not only that, but the use of tobacco products also puts you at greater risk for oral cancers.
4. You’ll Get a New Lease on Life
The best part about quitting? You’ll live longer and have more energy for the things in your life that truly bring you joy. In fact, within 20 minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your heart rate returns to normal and your blood pressure also drops. Within one day of quitting smoking, your risk of heart attack decreases. With each passing day of being smoke-free, your health continues to improve in droves.
5. Quitting Cold Turkey
If you’re the type of person who rips off a bandage quickly or jumps into an icy pool instead of getting in a bit at a time, quitting cold turkey may be for you. The downside of this method of quitting is that you do experience withdrawal symptoms. Their severity depends upon how long and how heavily you smoked previously. However, the benefit you earn is being able to say assertively that you are a nonsmoker from day one.
6. Quitting with the Help of Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you discover the reasons why you turn to cigarettes for comfort. This works very well if you’ve been using smoking as a coping mechanism. By understanding the reasons why you reach for a cigarette, you can program your brain to react in different, more positive ways when you experience triggers. This method works well if you’re an introvert who values knowing yourself.
7. Quitting with the Help of Nicotine Replacement Devices
Some people are so physically addicted to nicotine that quitting cold turkey or even cutting down is far too difficult, and sometimes unrealistic. For these folks, nicotine replacement gums and patches work quite well. This enables the smoker to keep a steady stream of nicotine in their blood while they work through the psychological effects of quitting smoking. This works well for those with a heavy physical addiction to nicotine.
8. Quitting with the Help of Medications
Finally, there are drugs that can help you break both the psychological and physiological addiction to nicotine. These medications contain the antidepressant bupropion, which works primarily on the dopamine receptors, which govern our reward centers. This can help you break free of the need to have a cigarette out of habit, or as a reward for taking a work break or making it through a long day. They can also help if you smoke to alleviate underlying depression.
No one method of quitting is right for everyone, and it may take a combination of approaches to help you finally quit the habit for good. However, you can rest assured that once you do, the rewards of becoming smoke-free are well worth it. So… what are you waiting for?