Kicking the habit

Tobacco is a plant that is processed into a variety of products including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, bidis and kreteks. Tobacco can be chewed, smoked or inhaled. Tobacco products may be flavoured to broaden their appeal. Regardless of how you use tobacco and in what form you use it tobacco is dangerous to your health.

The dangers of using tobacco have been well documented. Medical conditions as diverse as cancers – including lung, oral and cervical cancer; emphysema – and heart disease as well as sexual dysfunction and cataracts are illnesses associated with tobacco use.

The more you use tobacco products the greater your risk of developing a tobacco related disease.

The message is not all doom and gloom – it is never too early or too late to stop using tobacco products and some of the health problems that develop as a result of using tobacco are partially reversed over time when you quit. Some of these benefits occur within minutes of using tobacco for the last time.

Make a plan to quit

If you wish to quit you will need a plan. This plan may include the use of nicotine replacement therapies (nicotine being the addictive substance found in tobacco) or other medications. If you choose to go this route talk about it with your doctor.

Your plan may also include individual or group ‘classes’, or you may decide to do it alone. Regardless of the method you try your plan needs to include the following:

A tracking record of when you use tobacco including the time of day, what you are doing and the mood you are in – this will help to identify triggers and habitual patterns associated with your tobacco usage. This will enable you to then develop alternatives to using tobacco.

Your plan will also need to include a quit date and the name of a buddy you can call who will support you in your quit attempt. You also need to include a strategy for interacting with people who may try to derail your quit attempt – you will need to speak to them assertively.

In addition you will need to include a strategy for keeping the weight off especially if you are trying to give up the use of cigarettes.

You will also need to have a coping strategy in place for if you are successful in your quit attempt for a few days and then relapse. As with many other things in life rewards and incentives are good motivators and promote success and you should include these in your plan.

FYI

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society offers assistance to help you quit the tobacco habit free of charge. For more information on quitting contact the Cayman Islands Cancer Society at 949-7618 or email [email protected].

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