Quit smoking, the natural way


Cigarette smoking is addictive. Any smoker will tell you that. But experts suggest that going the natural way is a good way to kick the habit.

"Apples, cucumber, oranges, grapes, pomegranates, lassi, chhanch and coconut water helps in reducing the urge to smoke. Vitamin C intake too helps. On the other hand, alcohol complements smoking and increases the desire to smoke," said Dr. Sajeela Maini, president, Tobacco Control Foundation of India, during a talk conducted at the India International Centre last week.

She also said that it is better to quit smoking altogether. "Physiological cravings are bound to go if you resist the urge for just 72 hours. Diverting one’s mind towards music, dance or something one likes can work wonders," she said.

According to Dr Maini, even pan masalas claiming to be 100% tobacco-free have addictive substances. This is to ensure that the consumer gets attached to that particular brand. "Nowadays even elaichi brands contain harmful substances," she said.

Warning the youth about the dangers of smoking, she pointed out that smoking regularly leads to premature wrinkling and hair loss, hearing loss, snoring, tooth decay and impaired athletic performance. Cigars and hookah are equally carcinogenic, she said.

Maini also suggested that non-smokers should resist being passive smokers. Statistics reveal that infants of mothers who smoke have five times higher the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). They also suffer from reduced birth weight and lung functioning disorders. Passive smoking can elevate the risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia in children. It also causes middle ear infection in children, cardiovascular impairment and behavioural problems.

In India, beedi is the most popular form of tobacco smoking (54%). Tobacco chewing accounts for 30% and cigarettes the remaining 16%. Tobacco related issues kills more people than AIDS, legal drugs, illegal drugs, road accidents, murder, and suicide combined, says the 2008 Tobacco Atlas.


Quit … or go up in smoke

Daily News

Wheezing, reduced lung capacity and trouble breathing had plagued smoker Lynn Ely for several years. Then she decided to kick the habit and go cold turkey.

The 33-year-old had managed to make it through her teens without succumbing to nicotine. But at age 22, boredom kicked in and Ely took up the habit.

“It was the beginning of the end,” she says.

Her body’s only reprieve was when she had a cold, and smoking became nearly impossible. In 2008, after eight years of puffing away, she decided to kick the habit after she had recovered from a cold.

Her main motivation, probably, was her partner – a non-smoker.

In November it will be four years since she last lit a cigarette.

Within four months of quitting, she started feeling better. Her wheeze had disappeared, she started breathing properly and her lung capacity had improved.

There have been times, when under pressure at work, she has felt tempted to light up a smoke.

But on all these occasions, she’s managed to resist by finding a distraction.

She says she won’t be reaching for a cigarette again.

“Now I get annoyed with people who smoke. People who quit are always worse and are on their high horses,” laughs Ely.

She is among scores of former smokers who turned to the cold turkey method in order to quit.

The National Council Against Smoking says this method has the best long-term success.

Council director Peter Ucko says success rates differ from person to person. “The most successful way is making the spontaneous decision to go cold turkey.”

He concedes that some prescription drugs, patches and devices do help. But it’s up to the smoker to commit to the decision and make the effort to give up the habit.

Ucko says “trying” to quit gives smokers an excuse or permission to fail on that attempt. The goalposts will keep shifting, but it’s important that quitters stick to their resolve.

Once the decision is made, the non-smoker is advised to discuss it with their families, friends and colleagues.

Support is important. If people know you’ve stopped, they’re less likely to offer you cigarettes.

But, Ucko warns, some smokers may actively try to discourage the quitter.

Ucko also advises people to drink plenty of water, as this helps flush the nicotine from the system.

When experiencing a craving, delay the decision to smoke, he says. If the craving starts at 2pm, decide to have a cigarette at 2.15pm. By then the craving will have passed, said Ucko. While people know that stopping the habit does save money, it’s usually an unseen saving.

The council advises people to have a jar in a visible spot in the house. Each morning, put your cigarette money in the jar.

On reaching work, Ucko says the new non-smoker should tell themselves they can’t buy cigarettes because their allotted money is at home, in the jar.

At the end of the week the jar should contain about R200. Some of this money could be spent on family members. “Thank them for helping you get through the week,” says Ucko.

The council estimates between five and seven million South Africans older than 15 smoke.

Many young adults start smoking at the age of 20, while they attend university.

However, by the age of 29, Ucko explains that many in that age group have grown up and become sensible adults and decide to quit.

While going cold turkey and battling the withdrawal is one option, other programmes target other areas of smoking.

Dr Charles Nel, chief executive of the Allen Carr programme in South Africa, says addiction to smoking is 5 percent physical and 95 percent psychological.

According to the Allen Carr website, the programme removes the psychological addiction to nicotine or the need or desire to smoke.

Nel says he believes that no pills can fix the psychological addiction to smoking.

Nel points out that smokers can sleep for eight hours, or be on a plane for 14 hours and not smoke without a problem.

He says the programme does not believe that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps smokers to stop smoking for the same reason that alcohol replacement therapy does not work for the treatment of alcoholism.

Independent published success rates for NRT after 12 months are less than 10 percent.

Pharmacists said that while nicotine replacement therapies were useful, the only drug that seemed to work was Champix, a prescription drug taken over six months.

They said over-the-counter products, including herbal remedies, had not been that effective in helping people stop smoking.


Anxiety Make it Harder to Kick the Habit

by emaxhealth.com,

A new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin concludes that smokers with a history of anxiety disorder have a more difficult time trying to quit smoking making it harder to kick the habit.

Tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable death and disabilty in the United States. Nicotine is highly addictive and can be hard to quit. While overall quit rates for the study were high, participants with anxiety diagnoses were much less likely to quit smoking.

Study results also showed that anxiety diagnoses were very common among participants and that more than a third of them met criteria for at least one anxiety diagnosis in their lifetime.

Many smokers claim that they smoke to calm their nerves and cigarettes have helped them to get through some of life’s most trying challenges however, they contain nicotine, which is an addictive drug and is a stimulant which is known to cause excitement. It will also intensify worries and make them seem bigger than they are which can lead to an anxiety disorder.

Out of all 1,504 study participants, 455 had had a panic attack in the past which included 199 social anxiety disorders, and 99 generalized anxiety disorders. There has been other research that has shown that up to 25 percent of the more than 50 million smokers in the U.S. had at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Researchers are starting to notice that very little research has addressed smoking in this population.

Lead author Megan Piper says it surprised her that the nicotine lozenge and patch alone or in combination failed to help patients with an anxiety history to quit smoking. “Further research is needed to identify better counseling and medication treatments to help patients with anxiety disorders to quit smoking,” Piper says.

Smokers in the study with anxiety disorders also reported higher levels of nicotine dependence and withdrawal symptoms prior to quitting. Researchers are excited to discover that anxiety makes it harder to kick the habit. Anxiety medications alone haven’t boosted cessation rates and Piper is planning further research to test other quit-smoking counseling interventions and medications with patients who have had an anxiety diagnosis.

Can’t quit smoking? Blame your genes

By Toronto Star

It started with a pack of Players stolen from her dad, who bought cigarettes by the carton to save money. Sasha Manoli knew where he kept them — in a kitchen cupboard. She snatched a pack on the day she decided to smoke. She was 14.

After meeting her friend, the teenagers went to Laurentide Park, which lies besides the Don Valley Pkwy. near York Mills Rd. It was winter. They went over to a pine tree and lay down under it in the snow. Manoli lit one cigarette and “half-smoked,” barely inhaling.

“I really remember the smell and the taste, but I can’t describe it,” she said. “But there was something very distinct.”

What Manoli didn’t know at the time was her decision to smoke may have had less to do with peer pressure and perhaps more to do with fate.

It’s an acknowledged theory in medicine that genes determine how quickly and how deeply people become addicted to smoking. Now researchers are looking for ways to personalize medicine to treat nicotine addiction so that everyone, even people who have a genetic predisposition to smoking, can quit.

Although peer pressure often propels teens to start smoking, Rachel Tyndale, a biochemistry professor at the University of Toronto, says your genes may determine whether or not you become addicted.

“Genes are not probably behind the first cigarette you pick up when you’re 13 or 14, which is usually influenced by your peers,” said Tyndale, also a researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “But once you’ve started to have cigarettes, then that component of genetics is quite strong.”

Manoli, now 25, had thought about smoking before she started that winter day.

“I had taken a cigarette from my mother’s pack before and held it and thought about it,” she said. “Just holding the cigarette felt like a huge betrayal.”

The Toronto native has always been surrounded by smoke. Both of her parents and her sister smoke. All started in their teens.

By smoking she was defying hopes that she wouldn’t follow her smoking destiny.

Even her grandmother, who started in her 40s, smokes.

“It’s kind of all my grandmother and I do together. We sit and chat; that usually involves smoking,” Manoli said.

This kind of legacy of family smoking is one element researchers like Tyndale look for when they are determining the influence of genes on a smoker’s addiction.

Tyndale works with Dr. Peter Selby, director of addiction programs at CAMH, to understand the way genetic factors determine how quickly nicotine — the addictive element in cigarettes — is metabolized by the liver.

“If you’re very fast at it, you tend to inhale more deeply and smoke more cigarettes. If you’re very slow, you tend to smoke fewer cigarettes and inhale less deeply,” Tyndale said.

Genes can influence a person’s addiction to cigarettes in two ways: Some people have a greater number of nicotine receptors in their brain, causing them to have deeper cravings for the buzz of nicotine; or their genes can determine how quickly they break down nicotine through the production of an enzyme in your liver.

Selby, a doctor trained in psychiatry and family medicine, tries to take genetics into account when counselling patients.

“Many multiple genes, when taken together, account for about 60 per cent of why people start smoking and why they have difficulty stopping,” he said.

His work has revealed that our genes can determine whether people enjoy the taste of smoking, how quickly someone can become addicted or whether someone becomes addicted at all.


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