Smoking is killing you. It’s the single worst habit you could have short of carrying a loaded pistol in your breast pocket. Even worse, you know that it’s killing you. It’s not like sugar or caffeine – two bad health habits you’ve already tackled that have damaging effects which may have surprised you. Why do you smoke when it’s making you feel terrible and shortening your life? Because you are addicted to nicotine. Your body craves it, and every time you try to deprive your body of nicotine, it reacts with outrage, forcing you to light up once again. This week you’re going to break the last and most powerful link in the chain that’s keeping you from enjoying total good health.
Your effort to quit smoking is going to be different this time because the Makeover has given you two crucial advantages.
First, you have the psychological advantage of knowing that you can do it. After all, you’ve already given up sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, improved your nutrition, begun to exercise and gotten your stress under control. These are major accomplishments. You probably feel more able to quit because you know at first hand what better health really means. And you have the confidence that grows with success. Each bad health habit that you’ve eliminated has given you increased confidence in your control over your body and in your self-mastery.
You have a physical advantage too. Your body has never been more ready to quit smoking. You won’t have to rely entirely on willpower. If you must count on willpower alone to help you change a habit as ingrained as smoking, your chances of success are not good. But this time when you stop smoking, your body will be working with you instead of against you.
What About Weight Gain?
The biggest concern shared by folks is that if they quit smoking, they’ll gain weight. Sometimes they’re embarrassed even to mention this because they know that the health benefits of not smoking are so significant that they should be willing to gain a few pounds in order to enjoy these long-term rewards. But I think that any stop-smoking program that ignores possible weight gain is ignoring the real world.
The fact is, though some people who quit smoking maintain a stable weight and some even lose some weight, many people who quit smoking do gain weight. The average weight gain for men is 5.3 pounds, which isn’t too bad considering all the great benefits to be reaped from quitting smoking.
You’re probably familiar with some of the reasons why ex-smokers gain weight: snacking instead of smoking is the main problem. The ex-smoker finds that a sharpened sense of taste and smell make food more appealing in addition to giving him something to do with his hands. And some people feel the need to have something in their mouths to replace cigarettes.
Finally there’s a connection between the urge to smoke and your blood sugar level. Smoking can put blood sugar on a roller coaster: Every time you light up, your blood sugar soars, and as the effects of the nicotine wear off, it plummets. This makes you feel tired and weak and edgy. You then yearn for a pick-me-up – a cigarette or perhaps a sweet snack – and the cycle begins again. Unless you cope with this problem, you may find that when you give up cigarettes, you have a powerful urge to eat sweets to keep your blood sugar up. Knowing the link between blood sugar and nicotine helps our stop-smoking program in two ways: We can avert the need for cigarettes by controlling our blood sugar. We can compensate for the urge to eat sweets by making sure to continue with the Chromium supplements we began to take in the Sugar Week and by working hard to stick with the changes we made in the “New Nutrition”.
The Hazards of Smoking
It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know that smoking is dangerous. But most people are unaware of the range of dangers that smoking poses to your health.
Smoking is far and away the largest single preventable cause of illness and premature death in the North America. It is associated with heart and blood vessel diseases; chronic bronchitis and emphysema; cancers of the lung, larynx, pharynx, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, and bladder. Smoking has also been connected to other ailments, ranging from minor respiratory infections to stomach ulcers. Smoking during pregnancy increases risks of complications of pregnancy and retarded fetal growth. Tobacco is associated with an estimated 320,000 premature deaths a year. Another ten million Americans currently suffer from debilitating chronic diseases caused by smoking.
Last, but not least, smoking ages you: The Canadian Cancer Society claims that a one-pack-a-day smoker is, at fifty years of age, physically as old as a nonsmoker at 58.
Not only are you killing yourself by smoking, you’re killing those around you. Recent studies on “second-hand smoke” have revealed that the nonsmoking spouse of a smoker has a 23 percent greater chance of developing nicotine-related cancer.
Smokers inhale thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke but probably the most dangerous is nitrosamine – the 20th Century’s most potent carcinogen. This chemical is found in bacon and cured meats, but one-pack-a-day smokers inhale a hundred times as many nitrosamines as the average American gets from a diet containing cured meats. About 25 percent of the other chemicals in tobacco smoke are known to cause cancer, or to cause cancer in association with other chemicals, or to irritate tissues so as to make cancer more likely.
Most people know that it’s unwise to have too many X-rays taken because of the dangers of radiation. But did you know that a person who smokes one and a half packs of cigarettes a day receives an annual radiation dose equivalent to that of three hundred chest X-rays?
Many people feel that even though smoking is dangerous, it’s too late, the damage has been done. Here is a chart in which Jane Brody, New York Times Health Columnist, summarizes the American Cancer Society’s reasons for “Why you Should Quit Smoking.”
Why You Should Quit Smoking
Risks of Smoking Benefits of Quitting
Shortened Life expectancy
Risk proportional to amount smoked. A 25 year old who smokes two packs a day can expect to live 8.3 years less than nonsmoking contemporary.
After ten to fifteen years, smoker’s risk approaches that of those who never smoked.
Cigarettes are major cause in both men and women. Overall, smokers’ risk is ten times higher than nonsmokers.
After ten to fifteen years, risk approaches that of those who never smoked.
Smoking increases risk by 2.9 to 17.7 fold that of nonsmokers.
Gradual reduction in risk, reaching normal after ten years
Smokers have 3 to 10 times as many oral cancers as nonsmokers. Alcohol may act as a synergist, enhancing effect of smoking.
Reducing or eliminating smoking/drinking lowers risk in first few years. Risk drops to level of nonsmokers in 10-15 years.
Cancer of Esophagus
Smoking increases risk of fatal cancer two to nine times. Alcohol acts as a synergist.
Since risk is proportional to dose, reducing or eliminating smoking/drinking should lower risk.
Cancer of Bladder
Smokers have seven to ten times greater risk. Synergistic with certain occupational exposures.
Risk decreases gradually to that of nonsmokers over seven years.
Cancer of Pancreas
Risk of fatal cancer is 2-5 times higher than for non-smokers.
Since risk seems related to dose, stopping smoking should reduce it.
Coronary Heart Disease
Smoking a major factor, causing 120,000 excess heart deaths each year.
Risk decreases sharply after one year. After ten years, risk is same as those who never smoked.
Bronchitis and Emphysema
Smokers face four to 25 times greater risk of death; lung damage even in young smokers.
Cough and sputum disappear within few weeks. Lung function may improve; deterioration slowed.
Stillbirth and Low birth Weight
Smoking mothers have more stillbirths and babies born at below normal weight, with greater vulnerability to disease and death.
If mother stopped smoking before the fourth month of pregnancy, risk to fetus is eliminated.
Smokers get more ulcers and are more likely to die from them; cure is more difficult in smokers.
Ex-smokers get ulcers too, but they heal faster and more completely than in smokers.
Drug and Test Effects
Smoking changes pharmacological effects of many medicines; changes results of diagnostic tests and increases risk of blood clots from oral contraceptives.
Most blood factors raised by smoking return to normal after quitting. Nonsmokers on birth control pills have much lower risks of hazardous clots and heart attacks.
As you can see, the health hazards of smoking are overwhelming. But it’s encouraging to know that they are all almost totally reversible.
Smoking obviously puts your health at severe risk. But it’s also responsible for other problems:
—Smoking ages the skin prematurely, causing wrinkles.
—Smoking alters sleep patterns, probably because of the irritating effect of nicotine. Smokers find it more difficult to get to sleep and more difficult to stay asleep.
—Smoking can cause back pain by decreasing the blood flow to the vertebrae, creating disc problems.
—Smoking makes you and your environment smell.
—Smoking stains your hands and teeth and fouls your breath.
—Smoking is very expensive.
Is Cold Turkey Best?
Some people quit by cutting down gradually over a period of weeks or months; some people stop overnight. I have found that a modified cold turkey method is the most effective.
People who quit cold turkey find that their withdrawal symptoms ease much more quickly than for those who cut down gradually. According to one Doctor who works with smokers, if you smoke thirty cigarettes a day – say, one every thirty minutes – you’re on the verge of withdrawal about every twenty minutes, which is why you light up as soon as you can. If you decrease your consumption to four cigarettes a day, you’re constantly living in withdrawal. But if you quit cold turkey, your body will rid itself of nicotine in about 48 hours. Obviously, the sooner you recover from withdrawal, the sooner you’ll feel the benefits of not smoking and the easier it will be to avoid cigarettes in the future. But if you live in constant withdrawal, you are never going to lose your craving for nicotine.
The Seven day Plan
I have successfully used a seven-day quit smoking program that is effective and simple to follow. It has worked for others, and it’s going to work for you. The method is geared to reduce the amount of nicotine you consume over a period of days, to help you cope with the symptoms of physical withdrawal, and to prepare you for the psychological withdrawal that may linger for weeks or months. In one week you’re going to be cigarette-free and feel better than you have in years. You have already laid aside the stimulants that could undermine your Stop Smoking week, now it is time, at least for this week to lay aside the harmful irritants that could also weaken your resolve physically. Irritants like vinegar, mustard, black pepper and all condiments containing these things. (These include Worcestershire and A-1 sauce, barbecue sauce, etc.) You have already cut way down on your saturated fat, now for this week cut the animal products to the bare minimum. Better to rely on many fruits, vegetables and their juices to help cleanse your body from the poisons of smoking. Of course, do include generous quantities of legumes, nuts and grains. (Next lesson we will cover more details on proper food combining to achieve the optimum nutrition from the food you eat.)
Before you begin this week, you must make a serious commitment to stop smoking. If you start with the idea that you’ll just “give it a try” without seriously deciding to stop smoking, the effort won’t work. But some people find it positively overwhelming to face a lifetime without cigarettes. When friends feel this way, we suggest that they commit themselves to one month without smoking, then they can reevaluate their decision. Usually if they can go a month without smoking, they’re eager to quit forever.
I strongly suggest that you begin the smoking week on a Saturday, not while you are on vacation or in any situation that is very different from your regular routine. The reason to start on a Saturday is that your first totally smoke-free day will be on Thursday. It’s more effective if people have their smoke-free day near the middle of the week so they don’t face a cold turkey day on the weekend. And, it’s best to quit smoking while on your regular routine at work or at home, because to do it effectively, you have to learn new behavior patterns and these new patterns must be integrated in your daily life. If you learn to stop smoking while on vacation – swimming and sunning all day – it will be difficult to avoid cigarettes when you go back to the grind and to all those situations you associate with smoking.
Today’s goal is to make the commitment to quit smoking and to build motivation to stick with that commitment. You’re not going to make any effort actually to stop smoking today, so smoke as many cigarettes as you ordinarily would.
—Make A List of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking. The list could include health reasons, but also very personal and practical reasons. One of my friends said that a compelling motivation was to rid her apartment of the smell of tobacco. Other reasons might include the cost of smoking, getting rid of smoker’s cough, improving your ability to taste and smell, improving your lung capacity for exercise, etc.
—Mark Day Six on your Calendar. It will be your first smoke-free day.
—Enlist Helpers. If you can get someone to stop smoking with you, so much the better. A spouse or a friend who is serious about it can be a valuable ally. But don’t ask people to quit with you who aren’t really committed; they may backslide and take you with them. Also be wary of spouses and other people who belittle your efforts or won’t support you. While you can understand their reluctance for you to give up something you might share in common, you can be firm in your conviction that you are determined to stop smoking.
—Make a Butt Jar. This is a jar that’s big enough to hold about a day’s worth of cigarette butts. It’s best if it’s small enough to carry around with you, and it should have a lid. As you go through the day, fill the jar with cigarette butts. If you find yourself wavering in your commitment to quit, take a whiff of your butt jar.
—Review the New Nutrition in the first week of the Makeover. It’s important to make a special point of sticking with the principles of the New Nutrition when you stop smoking, since a good diet will help you cope with any withdrawal symptoms you might experience as you go through the week.
Today you’re going to figure out what prompts you to smoke. You’ll still be smoking as much as you want, but you’ll be paying attention to when and how much you smoke.
—Switch Cigarette Brands. Most of the Makeover veterans found it effective to switch to a mentholated brand if they smoke regular cigarettes, and vice versa so that you can make smoking as unpleasant as possible.
—No matter how much you smoke, Buy Only One Pack of Cigarettes At a Time.
—Make a “Smoking Trigger” List. Take a small piece of paper and wrap it around your cigarette pack with a rubber band. Each time you light up a cigarette, make a note of the time and what you are doing. For example, you might note you have a cigarette at 9:30 A.M. while you’re on the phone, or a cigarette at 1:00 P.M. after lunch, or a cigarette at 3:00 P.M. while you’re working on a project or while driving, and so forth. The point is to make you aware of the circumstances that stimulate you to light up. Some people smoke unconsciously – they simply light up regularly. Other people smoke mainly for pleasure – say, with a cup of coffee or after a meal. Still others smoke when they are working or when they are nervous or bored. Your list will help you to discover what prompts you to smoke. It will also make you focus on the act of smoking itself; you won’t be lighting up unconsciously because you have to make a note when you smoke each cigarette.
Today you’re going to begin to cut down on your smoking.
—Review Your List of Reasons for Quitting and see if you can add any more. Think about the feeling of satisfaction and self-control you’ll have when you stop.
—Study your Trigger List to see if there are any times of day or occasions on which you smoke which you can eliminate. It’s usually most effective to eliminate the cigarettes that don’t mean as much to you. For example, you may really take pleasure in your cigarette after dinner, but not mind so much eliminating one smoked in midmorning.
—Try to Eliminate One Quarter of Your Usual Daily Number of Cigarettes. Every time you feel as if you want a cigarette, WAIT TEN MINUTES BEFORE YOU LIGHT UP.
—Add Butts to Your Butt jar, if it isn’t full already, and put an inch or so of water in the bottom. Make a point of smelling the contents occasionally. That’s what your clothes, your furniture, the inside of your car, etc. smell like when you smoke.
—Be Sure to Take Chromium. Review your Sugar Week and make every effort to keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Don’t forget to take your Chromium. As you cut down on cigarettes, you may begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal. If your blood sugar is under control, these symptoms will be lessened and your task will be much easier.
Today you’re going to gain more confidence and self-control by further cutting down your daily consumption of cigarettes.
—Review Your Reasons for Quitting. It’s best to do this first thing in the morning.
—Cut Down on Cigarettes Smoked by reviewing your trigger list and choosing certain situations in which you won’t smoke. For example, decide not to smoke at all while talking on the phone or while driving.
—Practice “Pseudosmoking”: When you feel the desire for a cigarette, purse your lips and inhale through your mouth deeply. Hold your breath for a minute and blow it out through your mouth. This can not only satisfy your urge for a cigarette, but the deep breathing will relax you and make it easier to hold to your conviction to quit.
—When you feel an urge to smoke, Delay Fifteen Minutes before lighting up.
—While you’re smoking, Put Your Cigarette Down Between Puffs. Try to wait a full minute between puffs.
This is your last day of smoking. Today you’re going to continue to cut down on your cigarette consumption, learn to find substitutes and announce your plans to quit to friends and co-workers.
—Review Your List of Reasons to Quit first thing in the morning. Take a minute to recognize the progress you’ve already made: You’ve cut down on smoking, and by this time tomorrow you will be an ex-smoker.
—Announce to Friends and Co-Workers that tomorrow you’re going to stop smoking.
—Try to Smoke Half the Number of Cigarettes you smoked on the first day of the week.
—Use the Wrong Hand to Smoke with so that the act of smoking becomes awkward.
—Find Oral Substitutes for Smoking. Eat sugarless gum or candy (this is the only time I recommend you indulge in artificially sweetened candy), celery, carrot sticks or any other nutritious low-calorie snacks you enjoy.
This is your first smoke-free day.
—Review Your Reasons for Quitting. Do this first thing in the morning. Spend a minute renewing your commitment to stop smoking.
—Review the Symptoms of Withdrawal in the next section so you’ll know what to expect.
—Use All of your Substitutes and Distractions. Use a set of worry beads or a plastic cigarette as a substitute. Eat your low-calorie or sugarless snacks.
—Take a Shower or Bath. It will help relax you.
—Throw out any Remaining Cigarettes or Smoking Paraphernalia. Don’t just toss cigarettes into the trash can. Wet them first so you couldn’t possibly be tempted.
—Use Your Butt Jar. Sniff it whenever you feel like having a cigarette.
—Increase Your Exercise. Lengthen your exercise session by ten or fifteen minutes. The increased activity will help you combat any withdrawal symptoms, including increased fatigue, tingling in the arms and legs, and reduced metabolism caused by the nicotine leaving your body.
You’ve gotten through one smoke-free day and you’re going to do it again. Today you’ll need to reaffirm your commitment to being a nonsmoker.
—Review Your Reasons for quitting. You should be proud of having gotten through one day without smoking. You’re well on your way to your goal.
—Increase the Relaxation exercises you learned last week. Tension, anxiety, anger – almost any kind of stress – will make you yearn for a cigarette. Head these feelings off by doing your relaxation exercises.
—Drink Plenty of Fruit Juices. The natural sugar in fruit juices will give your blood sugar a boost and will slow the effects of nicotine withdrawal on your body.
—Use your Butt Jar. Sniff it whenever you feel the urge for a cigarette.
—Plan a Weekend Activity that will put you in a Non-Smoking Situation. Visit a museum or see a play. Make an effort to engage in a pleasurable activity for your first nonsmoking weekend. It’s important that you keep busy and best if you do so with nonsmoking friends.
—Reward Yourself. You’ve been through a difficult week. Treat yourself to a weekend at an Inn or some new clothes or dinner out at a nice restaurant (non-smoking section).
Withdrawal: What to Expect
Some people stop smoking and have no symptoms whatsoever. They’re the lucky ones. Most people notice some symptoms. For certain people, the symptoms are mild, while for others, withdrawal is terribly difficult. Here’s a rundown of what you might experience when you quit smoking:
—Craving: You will most likely feel a physical desire for a cigarette. Fortunately, if you’ve been through the Makeover, the craving should be minimized because your blood sugar is under control and you’re taking Chromium supplements to help stabilize it. Craving is the most difficult aspect for most people. (See: tips from quitters – below)
—Headaches: Some people find that when they stop smoking they suffer temporarily from headaches. Though the reasons why an ex-smoker should develop headaches are unknown, the American Lung Association has suggested remedies: extra rest, deep breathing, and increased exercise. If you develop headaches, be sure to avoid pain relievers that contain caffeine. If you take these, you can put yourself back on a blood sugar roller coaster and only worsen the headaches.
—Cough: When you smoke, this paralyzes the hairlike structures that clean the lungs by sweeping out foreign material. When you stop smoking, these structures regain their function and work overtime to clear the lungs of tar. The ex-smoker’s cough is a temporary symptom, and we suggest you let it run its course.
—Tingling or Numbness: You may have these feelings in your arms or legs. They indicate that you’re regaining the optimum circulation that was impaired by smoking. Eventually the sensations will disappear.
—Nervousness and Tension: These are common complaints, directly related to the withdrawal of nicotine from your system. The best antidote is to eat lots of fruit which help slow nicotine release from the body and thereby ease your symptoms. Exercise can be very helpful as a tension reliever for the ex-smoker.
—Tiredness: As we know, nicotine causes the body to release the antistress hormones that stimulate a state of arousal. The person who is used to this sensation may well feel tired when the artificial stimulation is withdrawn. The remedy is to exercise a bit more than usual and get plenty of rest.
—Lack of Concentration and Dizziness: When you smoked, your brain was being deprived of a certain amount of oxygen. When you stop smoking, the increased oxygen you’re getting can cause these symptoms. Within a few days, you’ll become adjusted to this and the symptoms will disappear.
—Sore Throat: Tobacco numbs the throat. When you stop smoking, your throat regains full sensation and begins to recover from the damage smoking has done. This sore throat will disappear in a week or two. In the meantime, some people report sugarless candy helps ease the irritation.
—Constipation: Nicotine is an irritant and it works on your bowel function. When you stop smoking, you may find that your system is sluggish, though most people suffer minimal constipation because of the increased fiber they’ve been eating on the Makeover. If you have trouble with constipation, review the New Nutrition lesson, looking especially for ways to increase your fiber and fluid intake.
Some Tips from Quitters
–Always try to sit in the nonsmoking section of a plane or restaurant. Try to get a seat far from the smoking section, as you don’t want to have to breathe someone else’s tobacco smoke. This holds particularly true if you’re nervous about flying.
–Don’t allow yourself to get hungry. If you do, you’ll find that your blood sugar drops and your resolve weakens. Using the New Nutrition guidelines, eat regular meals and be sure to have low-calorie snacks on hand at all times.
–Always have something around to keep your hands occupied. Some carry toothpicks and chew them constantly.
–Get your clothes, curtains, upholstery, etc., cleaned to rid them of the smell of tobacco. One woman told us that not only was it satisfying to have an apartment free of the smell of smoke, the money she had invested in cleaning it kept her from lighting up again.
–When you have the urge to smoke, wash your hands. This replaces one behavior with another, and it can be very effective.
–Try to avoid situations that involve heavy smoking – at least for your first smoke-free month. These events might include card games, cocktail parties, etc.
–Pray earnestly that you may know God’s peace and His perspective on trials and anxious thoughts. Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6: 34. Cigarettes were never a good way to fight stress, but prayer is.
–Remember that one cigarette does hurt: If you never have “just one cigarette,” you won’t have to worry about having another and another…
–Remember to take one day at a time. If you do backslide, don’t decide you’ve failed. Just get out your list of reasons for quitting and read through this lesson again. Remember that no one ever died from stopping, but millions have died from smoking. The Lord wants to help us to overcome – probably more than we want to overcome. After all, Jesus died to set us free from sin: against ourselves, against others and against Him. See 1 John chapters 1-3