A new study by the JAMA Internal Medicine journal has proved that smoking causes more than 48 per cent of deaths from the 12 types of cancer. In a recent news story, TIME magazine quoted the journal saying that, ‘Smoking resulted in more than 80 per cent of lung cancer deaths as well as 77 per cent of larynx cancer deaths. Other top cancers caused by smoking include esophagus, kidney and liver cancer.’
To put it more simply, almost half the deaths caused by cancer were linked to smoking. Though these figures were limited to the United States of America, it is not too difficult to extrapolate these numbers globally, or to India.
These figures that scream to you across news headlines are not new. With every research paper published, the case against smoking is getting stronger. But to quit smoking is never easy. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably tried to quit, more than once perhaps, and undergone a relapse.
But there is no shame in admitting defeat and giving it another try. So if you’re trying to quit, helping a friend/spouse or child cut down or have never tried to cut down because you don’t know how to, here are some pointers to nudge you to stub it out.
What’s your number?
Identify the problem you’re dealing with. Make a note of the number of cigarettes you smoke daily. Be completely honest, even if you smoke more than you thought you do. The aim is to cut that number down. Once you give a face to the problem, it gets easier to deal with it. So if you smoke ten cigarettes a day, the number needs to go down to eight, then five. Set yourself a target for each week. After two or three weeks, cut the number of cigarettes by one. Go slow, set a reasonable number for yourself.
Find a Reason to Quit
Even though quitting to stay healthy is reason enough, give yourself a separate reason. Are you bringing up kids? Did you quit swimming after you started smoking? Does your husband hate the fact that you smoke? Is it making your skin look darker and making you look older? All you need is one reason. You’ll find that it is easier to latch on to your resolve, once you have a strong reminder of why you’re quitting.
Employ ‘The Buddy System’
Find a friend who wants to quit too. But it is important to keep in mind that this friend must be equally motivated to quit. Once you have your ‘person’, make a pact of how many you’re allowing each other to smoke. If you cross the line, tell him, he’ll understand. If you do well, tell him, he’ll want to do better. Two is always better than one, whether it’s to complain about craving a smoke, or discuss withdrawal symptoms. Drag this buddy to parties so that you can keep a tab on each other.
Make some rules
Promise yourself you won’t smoke after dinner, in the car or in the bedroom. Stay away from your usual smoking zones such as the smoke room at work, your terrace and your balcony. Don’t buy a packet of cigarettes on your way home. Throw away your ashtray and lighter. You’ll find that refusing a smoke after a couple of beers is hard, but physically trying to clean out your life is much easier.
Ask for medical help
Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy, which means supplying your body with nicotine but not through tobacco. Try options such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays. You can also ask your doctor for prescription pills to help with the withdrawal.
Replace smoking with a hobby
Discover a new activity that will excite you. Take up cycling, running, swimming (exercise will also help you feel better about quitting). Pick up a musical instrument or a fresh hobby such as cooking. gardening or painting. You don’t need to be very good at this, just good enough to be distracted.
It’s okay to slip
Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you decided to smoke four cigarettes a day, and have not stuck to your word, try again tomorrow. Don’t abandon your plan midway. It’s a long road, and a few bumps along the way never hurt anyone.
Aim towards quitting altogether
Once you have your cigarettes per day in control, take the plunge for the next step. If you’ve cut down successfully and feel comfortable enough, concentrate on quitting. It’s only the next step.
Anyone who has quit smoking successfully will tell you that it was not the easiest thing in the world for them to do. But the rush of taking your life in control is going to make the long and hard journey worth it.