Smoking? stub out now!

 The smoking ban which was supposed to be implemented from 1November , has been delayed once again to the disappointment of health officials on the Island.

However just because the law is not yet in effect it does not mean that smokers can breathe a toxic  sigh of relief, instead use this time to make it your goal to   rid your life of tobacco once  and for all.

If you think you’ll just hold on until the ban comes in maybe these facts will spur

you on.

Effects of tobacco

When you take a drag of a cigarette, your heart begins to beat faster as much as 10 to 25 beats per minute.

Carbon monoxide  is created when you smoke, (the same stuff that  comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe),robbing every cell in your body of oxygen.

Your blood pressure rises by about 10 to 15 per cent. High blood pressure means an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Cigarette smoke contains over 3,000 chemicals, most of them nasty .With each drag Formaldehyde, an embalming fluid and  Hydrogen cyanide better known as  rat poison, are just two that  have been  absorbed into  your bloodstream.

A lot of what you inhale turns to tar, not dissimilar to what they tar roads with. It sticks to your throat and lungs, killing healthy lung cells.

Why on earth would anyone want to do this to their body?

Well, smoking is highly addictive because nicotine is a drug and a cigarette is a highly efficient drug delivery system. Within 10 seconds of a puff on  a cigarette  the drug has hit your brain.

Nicotine is a clever drug as it simultaneously acts as a stimulant and a relaxant, but the effect is short -lived. Within 40 minutes it leaves the body, leaving you gasping for the next one.

Just because it is an addiction does not mean that you can’t break it, but depending on the depth and length of time you have been addicted you might need some help.

How to give up
There are two parts to being a smoker: one is about addiction; the second is about the habit and psychological dependence.Dr Sook Yin medical director for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society says that “Firstly you have to address the nicotine addiction because the brain wants its fix.”

This is where the various nicotine replacement therapies can come in handy.

There are a few different over- the- counter aids which your pharmacist or doctor can recommend.

Pharmacist Corrine Smith of  Valu-Med pharmacy, explains. “The most common aids are nicotine patches, which release nicotine into the bloodstream over a 24/48 hour period, so you don’t want a cigarette. The patches vary in strength according to how much you smoke. The idea is that you gradually reduce the strength.”

With nicotine gum on the other hand you need to take it when you feel the urge for a cigarette. The idea of the gum is that gradually you reduce the doses until the craving disappears.”

She suggests talking to the pharmacist to find out which method best suits you.

For many smokers the ideal would be a pill that  would just make the cravings and psychological dependence go away. There are pills that your doctor can prescribe. The anti depressant marketed under brand name Zyban, helps with withdrawal symptoms.  Chantix is a newer pill which stops nicotine acting on the brain and can be used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms  and  also as a form of aversion therapy making the act of smoking repulsive.

Like with any pills, there have been various side effects reported, but Martin Bures, pharmacy manager of Care Pharmacy, says that normally a patient would not be prescribed these for a long period and he points out that , “ the trouble is when people take a pill the side effects can be immediate, making them feel uncomfortable, but they  have to weigh that up against   the terrible, long term side effects of smoking.”

Breaking the Habit
However nicotine replacement is just that, you also need to break the habit.

Christine Sanders ,chief operating officer

Cayman Islands Cancer Society says. “It’s a good idea to keep a  diary of when you smoke and why;  that way you will know the triggers which make you reach for   a cigarette.”

If it is stress that triggers a craving then you have to find ways to counteract feelings of stress – taking a deep breath or going for a walk.

If you associate certain places with having a cigarette then change your environment.

If it is social situations that triggers the need, then you might need to avoid these situations till you feel stronger.

Christine says “the two things that smokers find hard to cope with is what to do with their hands and mouths when they give up smoking.”

She suggests using a stress ball or clicking a pen, knitting, sewing, anything that will keep your hands occupied.

A lot of women are afraid of putting on weight when they give up, but Christine says that does not have to be inevitable. “If you decide to make a total life style change when you give up smoking you can make healthy choices about the way you eat and about taking exercise. Some women actually find they lose weight because they are able to exercise more once they give up smoking.”

She says that another common attitude is to see some people go through a sort of grieving process almost as if they have lost a friend, which in a sense they have, as cigarettes have been a psychological crutch.

However no one wants a toxic friend like tobacco, so get help if you need it, give up and remember as  Sook Yin points out “you will live longer, live healthier and  live richer.”

Common Aids
Nicotine Replacement therapy helps with withdrawal symptoms.

Hypnosis has proven inconclusive

Acupuncture again inconclusive

Self Help books and tapes  Titration – reducing over time – tricky as a crisis can tip you back over the edge into addiction

Smoking substitutes such as herbal cigarettes – just maintain a habit of inhaling

The good news- giving up
* Within 20 minutes blood pressure returns to normal levels

* After eight hours oxygen levels return to normal

* After 24 hours carbon monoxide levels in the lungs return to those of a non smoker .

* Mucus begins to clear

* After 48 hours nicotine leaves the body

* After 72 hours breathing becomes easier

* After two to twelve weeks circulation improves

* After five years the risk of  heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker

* After ten years the chance of lung cancer is almost the same as a non smoker

The very bad news ( apart from it kills you slowly)
* Cigarette smoke contains at least 4000 toxic chemicals including Acetone – dissolves certain substances and commonly found in nail polish removers

* Hydrazine – used in rocket fuel

* Enclosed smoky spaces such as bars and casinos have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles in the air than roads.

* A pack-a-day smoker ingests a full cup of tar into his or her lungs every year.

* Women who smoke can appear on average to be 10 years older than non smoking counterparts

* Women smokers have earlier menopause

Money money money
Smoking a pack a day .

In one year you spend $ 1,680

Over five years $ 8,400

Over 10 years $I17,800

Over 20 years $35, 600

And from January the price goes up to an average of six dollars for a pack. I will leave you to do the maths after all  it’s your money going up in smoke.