Why do people still smoke?

Health & Fitness Nutrition

Smoking is the largest preventable cause of premature death and disability in the UK-so why do so many people still light up.

Smoking isn’t just about nicotine craving it’s a psychological problem as well as a physical one.

It goes without saying that in the early stages of stopping smoking the nicotine withdrawal is the hardest thing to cope with. Just because cigarettes are legal you should not be under any illusion that nicotine is a very powerful and dangerous drug. If it were bought in to this country today it would probably be classed along side such drugs as crack cocaine and heroin. However long after any withdrawal symptoms have disappeared the urge to smoke can still be there and that is because lighting up a cigarette is almost a ritualistic act.

Do you recognise any of these scenarios, the cigarette with your coffee in the morning or with your pint in the pub. Before you use the telephone, after you have finished your housework, or the one after work as a sign that you can finally relax. These psychological and behavioural factors become routines, habits that the mind finds very difficult to break.

Even the impact of ill health caused by cigarettes may not be enough to make someone quit and ill health should be the major reason for stopping.

Smoking related diseases cost the NHS approximately £1.5 billion a year. It is the number one reason for leg amputation. It increases the risk of premature cardiovascular disease, the cause of heart attacks and strokes by 5 times. It is the major cause of lung cancer, which is very difficult to cure; it causes cancer of the mouth and throat and has also been liked to bowl cancer and bladder cancer. Throw in emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, impotence, infertility, premature births, gum disease and finally 120,000 deaths of people aged 35 and older every year and 20% of all deaths at all ages and you can see why it is important to try and quit.

The good news is that if you do then many of these long term illnesses can be eliminated and quickly.

Dr James Daniel of the School of Psychology at the University of the West of England recommends that once you have stopped smoking exercise helps beat the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and just 10 minutes of moderate exercise daily can help significantly. He says, “This may be due to a focus of attention on physical activity, rather than the exercise itself” In other words keep busy and try exercising at those times you would normally light up, it may also help break some of those rituals.

It is possible to break the habit as thousands do every year. You may not manage it the first time but research has shown that every time you stop again you have more chance of quitting for good, so never give up.

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