Smoking Facts - What You Should Know
Despite decades of warnings from doctors and the U.S. Government, nearly one in four Americans still smoke cigarettes regularly. Millions of people have quit since the government first reported a link between smoking and lung cancer in 1964, but many people continue to smoke and thousands of young people start smoking every month.
Why do people smoke? Simply put, it's pleasurable. Nicotine releases dopamine in the brain, and dopamine affects the brain's pleasure centers. People smoke because it feels good. They continue smoking because nicotine is physically addictive. After a short time of smoking, sometimes as short as a few cigarettes, the body begins having withdrawal symptoms if the smoker tries to quit.
Here are a few facts to consider if you are considering quitting smoking:
- Smoking is expensive. A pack a day habit can cost more than $1500 today.
- Cigarette smokers miss an average of three more days of work per year due to illness.
- Smokers take longer to heal from injuries or surgery than nonsmokers.
- Smokers pay more for health insurance than nonsmokers.
- Smokers often have difficulty exercising due to shortness of breath.
With all of these things and more as drawbacks to smoking, why don't more people quit? Simple - quitting smoking is difficult. Each individual reacts differently to nicotine. Some people are more "addicted" to it than others, making it harder for them to quit. Longtime smokers have developed the habit of simply having something in their hands or their mouth all the time, and such habits are difficult to break.
New technology has made it possible for smokers to wean themselves from tobacco in different ways. Nicotine patches and gum are available at most pharmacies. These products help maintain a steady dose of nicotine in the smoker's bloodstream, making it unnecessary for them to smoke in order to receive their nicotine fix. Electronic cigarettes have been developed, which deliver an inhalable mist that contains tobacco flavoring and nicotine, but produce no smoke. These devices are battery operated and can meet the smoker's nicotine needs without producing the carbon monoxide, tar and smoke that come from regular cigarettes.
Ultimately, the decision to quit or not rests with the individual smoker. The reasons for quitting are well documented, and any smoker who cares about their health should consider either quitting or cutting back. Of course, counseling help is available from a number of sources as well, so that smokers can be encouraged to quit by other people who have succeeded.
If you want to quit smoking, you can. If you still need the nicotine, there are non-smoking alternatives available to you.