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Health Corners
Quitting Smoking

  • Why quitting is not easy

  • What is in a cigarette?

  • What does cigarette do to health?

  • Benefits Of Quitting Smoking

  • Some Quitting Facts

  • Coping Strategies

  • It is not easy.

    With every cigarette you smoke your body takes in a miniscule quantity of nicotine. Nicotine increases the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. This helps you feel good.Soon the body craves for nicotine for a feel good. This is what keeps you smoking through the day. When you smoke a cigarette nicotine disperses rapidly and reaches the brain. You probably take 10 puffs from a cigarette. And if you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, brain is taking 200 “hits” of nicotine. Your cigarette is an effective drug delivery system. To give this up is not easy.

    Even if your mind has decided to do it, your body is going to rebel against it.

    But then, if you don’t, too much is at stake….

    What is in a Cigarette?

    There are nearly 4000 chemicals in a cigarette. Atleast 43 of the ingredients are carcinogenic (cancer causing). Here is a sampling:

    Acetic Acid (Corrosive to respiratory tract)
    Acetone (used in nail polish removers.)
    Ammonia. (Used in floor and toilet cleaners)
    Arsenic (a poison)
    Cadmium (Car battery Fluid)
    Carbon Monoxide (interferes with the supply of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body)
    DDT/ dielderon (Insecticides)
    Ethanol (Alcohol)
    Formalin (used in preserving human tissue and fabric)
    Hexamine (used in explosive compounds)
    Hydrogen Cyanide (Poison)
    Methane (Petroleum Gas)
    Naphthalene (used in moth balls)
    Nicotine (Schedule 6 Poison)
    Nitro Benzene (a petrol additive)
    Phenols (used in disinfectants)
    Stearic Acid (used in candle wax)
    Toluene (Industrial solvent)
    Vinyl Chloride (used in PVC)

    What is tar? Does a low tar cigarette decrease health risk?

    “Tar” is the total particulate matter that is inhaled when you draw on a lighted cigarette. It is the stuff that stains your fingers and turns your teeth yellow. Regulations have brought down the tar component in cigarettes, as tar is associated with a proportional increase in lung cancer. However, there is no evidence to show “ low tar” cigarettes lower risk of Coronary disease.

    What does cigarette do to health?

    Tobacco is more addictive than hashish.

    Major health issue for smokers:

    1. They die younger. If you check the number of dead in the younger age groups, there are more smokers than non smokers. Death risk increases in proportion to number of cigarettes smoked, number of years smoked, and earlier the age at which smoking is started.

    2. Cancer. Cancer causing substances are readily absorbed into the body of non smoker. There is no safe level of exposure. Cigarette smoking increases risk of lung cancer. The risk for moderate smokers is 12 times and for heavy smokers 24 times as non-smokers. Other cigarette related cancers are mouth cancer, laryngeal and pharyngeal cancer esophageal cancer, stomach cancer and bladder cancer.

    3. Heart Attack (Cigarette smokers have 70% more heart attacks than non-smokers.)

    4. Chronic Bronchitis

    5. Emphysema

    6. Pulmonary infections

    7. Stroke

    8. Cataract

    Second hand Tobacco smoke is harmful to people who stay close to you.

    Benefits Of Quitting Smoking

    After 20 min   Blood Pressure & Pulse rate return to normal.
    After 8 hrs Oxygen levels in the blood returns to normal. Chances of heart attack starts falling.
    After 24 hrs Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs clear out mucus and other debris.
    After 48 hrs Nicotine no longer detectable in the body. Ability to taste and smell is improved.
    After 72 hrs Breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes relax. Energy level increases.
    After 2 - 21 weeks Circulation improves throughout the body.
    After 3 - 9 months Breathing problems such as coughing, shortness of breath & wheezing decrease. Overall lung function increases by 5 - 10%
    After 5 yrs Risk of heart attack falls to about half of that of a smoker.
    After 10 yrs Risk of lung cancer falls to about half of that of a smoker. Risk of heart attack falls to about the same as non - smokers.

    Some Quitting Facts

    Stopping tobacco step by step is difficult. Stopping it at once is easier.
    There are no harmful effects in stopping tobacco suddenly.
    The problems that are caused by stopping tobacco are temporary and will last for only 5 to 7 days.
    These are nothing compared to diseases like cancer, heart attack etc., caused by tobacco usage.

    Coping Strategies

    1. Take a day at a time.

    2. Postpone each cigarette by one hour

    3. Do not buy in packs. Do not keep a stock of cigarettes / tobacco.

    4. Tell your family, friends and colleagues that your are going to quit tobacco and want their support.

    5. Change your environment

      • Get rid of all cigarettes and ash trays in your house

      • Make your home a tobacco free zone.

    6. Craving stage does not last for more than 5 minutes. Wait out the craving.


    Tobacco Cessation Clinic
    WHO & Cancer Institute
    V-I-Block, Room No 19
    Cancer Institute,
    No 38, Sardar Patel Road, Adayar,
    Chennai - 600036

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