Up in smoke: Reasons to kick the habit

In recent years, general attitudes towards smoking have changed a great deal. Increased awareness of smoking’s effects on your health and government legislation have seen cigarettes and accompanying advertising messages all but eradicated from public sight. This has cast the smoker in an unfavourable light – now they carry with them a habit that is deemed not only detrimental to their own health but anti-social too.

Within this environment, there is a lot more pressure upon the smoker to give up and, it seems, an increased inclination to do so. Of those that remain addicted to smoking in the UK, 63% possess the desire to quit. Unsurprisingly, the main reason given for this disposition is concern over health and the gloomy prospect of premature death.

Kicking the Habit

Despite nearly two-thirds of smokers having a desire to quit, the vast majority remain addicted as relapse rates for those that attempt to give up are very high. Many smokers have tried to give up at least once but have failed because their dependence on cigarettes is so hard to kick.

The addictive element is nicotine, and all smokers have built up a physical dependence to this drug, such that abstinence from it will cause a multitude of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These include nausea, headaches, anxiety and extreme cravings that are at their worst within the first 12-24 hours of quitting, making this the most common period for relapse.

Think of Your Health

For those who bite the bullet and endure that difficult first day, there are so many statistics borne from reliable sources that suggest quitting smoking will make your life much better. Within three days you should already start feeling better.

Within just 20 minutes of stubbing out your final cigarette, your body’s blood pressure and pulse rate will return to normal. Inside 48 hours the nicotine in your body will have disappeared and your quest to escape the drug’s vice-like grip will become that much easier. The 72 hour mark will see your breathing improve significantly as the bronchial tubes start to clear, so your energy levels should improve and physical exertion will become easier.

The long-term benefitsare even more note-worthy. By your ten-year mark as a non-smoker the risk of developing lung cancer will drop by half and the risk of you having a heart attack will be at the same level as someone who has never smoked.

Financial Cost

Okay, so the fact that giving up smoking will improve your health is hardly a revelation. However, if you don’t mind having heavy lungs, perhaps you have grown tired of having a lighter wallet.

Cigarettes have increased massively in price, especially in the last ten years. The government have hiked up tax exponentially not just as a measure to line their own pockets, but as a tool to incentivise people to quit.

If you pay for your cigarettes as and when you need them, the deficit that your habit is inflicting on your finances might not be as obvious. However, if you take just a few moments to ponder the cumulative sums of cash squandered upon the habit it can become mind-boggling. If you think of quitting smoking in terms of what you can spend with the money saved then you can provide yourself with quantifiable inspiration– this quit smoking calculator tells you exactly how much you’ve spent, and what luxuries you could have treated yourself to instead!

Smoking severely depletes your health and your wallet. Considered in combination and alongside the increasing perception of smoking as an anti-social habit, surely there is no better time to send your habit ‘up in smoke

Gavin Harvey is a personal trainer who loves to blog on all things fitness and health related.

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