Most people today are well aware of the dangers of smoking. The evidence is just too hard to ignore. On the other hand, the chemical constitution of cigarettes is so addictive that, once this habit is picked up, it can be one of the most difficult to quit. What many people do as an alternative to quitting is cut back. It would be easy to assume that this is a positive step. It is, but it’s still dangerous. Here, we take a look at recent research from a study at UCL Cancer Institute at University College in London.
When researchers first set out to observe data from 141 previous studies, they expected to see a dramatic reduction in the risk of heart disease among one-a-day smokers as opposed to those who smoked a pack a day – the equivalent of about 20 cigarettes. Upon investigation, they were surprised that the risk decreased very little.
Among male smokers, the risk for heart disease with one cigarette a day remained at 46% compared to non-smokers. The risk of stroke, 41%. Women who smoked one cigarette a day had a 31% risk for heart disease, and 34% for stroke. This data is very telling: reducing the number of cigarettes smoked in a day doesn’t do a whole lot for overall health and wellness, and doesn’t provide the reduction in heart disease risk that may be presumed.
Upon conclusion of case studies, researchers concluded that there is immense value in quitting the habit of smoking as early as possible after starting. In recent years, we have seen a sharp decline in the number of smokers in the United States; only about 15% of American adults smoke. However, it is also important to note that 11% of high-schoolers smoke.
Because smoking is so highly addictive, quitting is not something to take on without assistance. Some suggestions for making this journey a little easier include:
- Talk with your doctor. Smoking isn’t a behavioral habit; it is an addiction. The body quickly begins to crave nicotine after the onset of smoking and needs help fighting cravings through cessation. Medical treatments can help you achieve success and regain your health.
- Make a plan. Due to the psychological and social aspects of smoking, it helps to have a plan that will see you through to the other side of this habit. Visit https://smokefree.gov/build-your-quit-plan to start yours.
- Get to know your triggers – and then avoid them. A trigger may be a certain place, a time of day, the feeling of boredom, or certain friends. It is easier to create new habits to replace smoking than to cut all triggers out of your life.
- Develop ways to manage stress, even if you don’t consider stress a trigger. Examples include daily exercise that you enjoy and taking time to engage in pleasurable activities.
You may have your reasons for wanting to stop smoking, and now you’ve got another: no amount of smoking is safe.