I remember aged 14, surrounded by friends in a circle playing a game of truth or dare. A ‘ciggie’ was lit and passed around the circle and we were all dared to take a ‘puff’. I remember rolling it through my fingers and taking it in my mouth, feeling the dustiness of its open flame cascading away from the circle. It was the first and only time I ever tried smoking and in my own words at the time it was ‘f**king disgusting’ and I never touched a cigarette again. But for some it’s not that simple, friends who were in that circle, nearly 10 years later are still smoking, while some people have been smoking like a chimney from a young age and even now, aged 75 is a woman, who says that ‘she tried so many times to give up smoking’ but never found the willpower to do so. For others they are luckier; my foster mum smoked ever since she was a teenager and it was when she became a foster mum that she knew that she needed to quit, as it wasn’t healthy for her or the kids. But she found it hard and for a long period of time she would quit and then start, because smoking was too addictive to quit. But then she found something that worked for her and that was E-Cigarettes, which to this day she uses to stave off ‘smoking’ and she has not smoked another cigarette since. Fighting addiction, whether it be alcohol, smoking or drugs can be difficult to overcome and often in the high pressure environment that we live in, our need to ‘give in to our addiction’ is often triggered by our hectic lifestyle.
For my foster mum, she smoked more when she was stressed, for my friends they smoke because its a habit they can no longer stop and for others it could be a multitude of other reasons. But there is one underlying theme; many start smoking due to ‘peer pressure’ and cultural influences. Where I grew up, people would smoke and take drugs, because ‘drug dealing’ was their way of rebelling against a societal system that would reject the poor and favour the rich. They would scrawl on the walls and walk down dark alleys late at night because without the ‘drug money’ many of them would be unable to survive, especially when there was such a huge divide between the ‘rich’ and the poor. I came from an area, where the rich 1 % owned mansions and estates and then there would be the 75 % that no one acknowledged, who lived in council estates and were ignored by it’s richer residents. But what on earth does this have to do with smoking? Well, many of peers would turn to smoking because it was seen as A. cool and B. a form of rebellion, just like drugs were seen as ‘cool too’. For me, already being notoriously uncool for getting ‘top grades’ and ‘supposedly dressing like a geek’ (translation I wore no make up and you couldn’t see my arse), the fact that I didn’t smoke and didn’t want to ‘try drugs’made me even more of an outcast. But it’s strange, I was always so eager to please and ‘always worried about what people thought about me’ so the fact that I didn’t give in to peer pressure was a bloody miracle. But for some of my other friends ‘ciggies’ became their way of getting in with the ‘cool crowd’ and became their ticket to success.
Of course not everyone took drugs and smoked, that would be a massive generalization, but as someone who is massively against smoking, I am proud to hear that ‘Stoptober’ is encouraging people who do smoke, to give up smoking. The theory goes that it is the ‘first 28 days’ that become the hardest period to overcome an addiction-although for me I would actually say a three month period would kickstart a clean break but then again I am not a professional- which is why so many people take part in Stoptober, to try and give up smoking. And this year for the first time ever, Stoptober is promoting ‘e-cigs’ as part of their campaign, after a recorded 53 % used them during ‘Stoptober’s’ 2016 campaign, in a bid to quit smoking entirely. But asides from the obvious side effects, why should you quit smoking this Stoptober? Well…
- Quit Smoking To Increase Your Bank Balance
Of course we all know that smoking is bad for your health and can increase your chances of having lung cancer but what about the less obvious reason; to increase your bank balance? Did you know that the average UK smoker spends £46 per month on cigerettes alone? That’s a whopping £548 per year and £2,738 after five years! Think about what you could spend your money on instead? That £46 per month could go towards your phone bill, that £548 could be spent on a much needed holiday abroad-including flights and accommodation- and £2,738 can go towards a mortgage, a child’s university fund or even a luxury inclusive round the world trip. The world really is your oyster. My point being is that smoking is an expensive habit, and during that one month (Stoptober) where you quit smoking (hopefully for good) you can save money, that would have otherwise been spent on cigarettes. I remember my foster mum telling me that while she found it hard to give up smoking, she said that over a period of several years she was able to have more money to spend on other ‘luxuries’ i.e. days out, that were definitely not harmful for her health.
*Based on smoking 5 per day.
2. Quit Smoking To Decrease The Rapidity Of Aging
When you smoke, drink or take drugs to an extensive amount, it is scientifically proven that chemicals can damage cells in hair follicles or constrict the blood vessels that supply them, meaning less healthy hair that is prone to aging prematurely. Whether that be a full head of ‘grey hair’ at a young age or hair that looks stripped of nutrients and vitamins, smoking does not just age your hair, but your skin too. Smoking can constrict the blood vessels in the face which can lead to a yellow pallor and a breakdown in elasticity. This means that you are more prone to fine lines and wrinkles at a young age and can ‘look quite jaundiced’ which is of course not a healthy look at any point in your life. And don’t just think that just because you are ‘young’ that you are immune to a premature aging process, because you are just as susceptible in your 20’s as you are in your 30’s.
The good news is that if you quit smoking you can reverse the signs of aging within two weeks:
Not only will you be less prone to skin wrinkles but your stained teeth will get whiter, your breath will smell better and you will have improved oral health. Not to mention your fingers and fingernails will no longer look yellow! How’s that for a cosmetic overhaul?
3. Quit Smoking To Protect The Ones You Love
You may not think much of smoking in front of your non-smoker friends or children, but a recipient who is inhaling ‘passive smoke’ is more likely to contract heart disease or have an increased risk of lung cancer, even though they ‘don’t smoke themselves. Furthermore when you smoke in front of other people, it can also encourage them to smoke, especially young children and teenagers, who see their elders as role models. Of course I don’t judge anyone who does smoke as we are all entitled to our own freedom of choice, but quitting smoking will benefit you and the ones you love.
After all look at the side effects of second hand smoke inhalation:
Eye irritation, headaches, nausea, and dizziness, increased risk of diseases like lung cancer and heart related issues and breathing problems. Not to mention children who are brought up in smoking households are more likely to contract ear infections, colds, bronchitis, and other lung and breathing problems than children from nonsmoking families. And mothers who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of a child having asthma and has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and low-birth-weight infants.
4. Quit Smoking For Your Health
Smoking like any other addictive habit comes with a list of long term health symptoms, like a decrease in sperm count affecting fertility rate, chronic lung diseases and so much more. But what if I was to tell you, that alongside all the diseases that you could contract, smoking also has an impact on the way that your brain works? Confused? Smoking can alter the brain in the same way that chemical imbalances take part in the brain after excessive ‘drug use’. Creating a ‘psychological basis’ for nicotine addiction, essentially studies showed that in an examination of ‘dead non smokers vs dead smokers’ the dead smoker’s brains had a higher level of ‘message carrying enzymes’ which meant that the brains had ‘altered’ to create ‘chemical messages’ that made them psychologically addicted to smoking. In other words ‘excessive consumption’ creates a psychological need to keep on creating an ‘addictive pattern’ because the mind associates it with being ‘something that you need’ to carry on functioning.
But the good news is that quitting smoking can decrease your risk of dying from smoking related diseases. If you quit aged 30 you decrease your risk of dying from smoking related diseases by more than 90 % and by 50 you you reduce the risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke. Furthermore, quitting smoking creates almost instantaneous results. Not only does your heart rate and blood pressure begin to return to a normal rate but within a few hours the high levels of carbon monoxide, which reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, begins to decline. Not to mention nerve endings in the mouth and nose begin to regenerate, improving taste and smell and you find that you are less out breath when participating in everyday activities.
Quitting smoking can lead to an increased life expectancy, protect the ones you love and halves your chances of contracting smoking related diseases. But its a difficult addiction to overcome and it’s not easy kicking a habit to the curb. But you are not alone, there are forums dedicated to helping you quit smoking once and for all. Question is, will you quit this Stoptober?
What Are Your Thoughts On Smoking?
Please note this is a paid collaborative post but all thoughts and research are my own.