Did you know...?

Check out these little known facts about smoking and its effects.
How are you looking these days? Find out how smoking affects your body.

When you smoke, your body doesn’t absorb nutrients or oxygenate your blood cells as efficiently, resulting in premature ageing. Quitting will improve your appearance in many ways:

  • Rosier complexion
  • Improved skin elasticity
  • Fewer wrinkles
  • No more yellowed fingers
  • Better breath
  • Fresh smelling clothes

Online resources:
Slideshow: Surprising Ways Smoking Affects Your Looks and Life
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

Withdrawaaaaaaaaaaaaals!

Have you had less energy or been in a foul mood since you quit? It’s perfectly natural! You’re experiencing withdrawals! Nicotine is a powerful stimulant that disrupts digestion, wakefulness, appetite and concentration. It’s also highly addictive. Hours after quitting, your body begins to rid itself of all the toxins that have accumulated in your lungs and blood. Here are a few tips to reduce these withdrawal symptoms:

  • Use pharmaceutical aids like nicotine patches, gum or lozenges (they will double your chances of quitting for good!)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat healthy
  • Get enough rest
  • Exercise
  • Get some fresh air
  • Do things that you find relaxing

Online resources:
Nicotine withdrawal Video
Withdrawal symptoms - iQuitNow
Withdrawal symptoms and how to cope

Stressed?

Exams, endless commutes, financial problems...so much stress to deal with! You may think nicotine will calm you down but, remember, it’s only an illusion! Here are a few tricks that will help you shift your focus and resist the urge to light up a cigarette:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Exercise
  • Remain objective
  • Use available resources (learn to delegate, talk to someone, turn to professionals, etc.)

Online resources:
How Successful People Stay Calm

Are you the odd man out?

Does everyone you know smoke? Do you feel like the black sheep? Some people smoke out of peer pressure or to feel like they’re part of the group. But did you know that 60 to 80% of smokers would love to quit? Just remind yourself that out of a group of 10 smokers, at least 6 wish they had your courage! If you persist, you may even inspire your friends to quit too.

What about weight gain?

The first thing you should know is that most smokers who quit gain less than 5 kg (11 lbs) in the first few months and lose that weight within a year. So you can relax on that score! Plus, you may not even gain weight. Some people don’t gain a single pound when they quit. While there’s no magic formula for maintaining your current weight, the following tips are sure to help:

  • Avoid sugar, salt and fat
  • Favour foods that are high in protein and fibre
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay active!
  • Use pharmaceutical aids (nicotine patches, gum, etc.): your body will absorb some nicotine, so quitting won’t affect your basal metabolism and, hence, your weight, as much, at least while you’re using them.
A helping hand: pharmaceutical aids

True or false: Nicotine patches and gum are only for heavy smokers. False! Pharmaceutical aids can help any type of smoker! For many, motivation isn’t enough, and those who use pharmaceutical aids are twice as likely to be a non-smoker five months later than those who don’t. You don’t even need a prescription. Just ask your pharmacist.

Online resource:
iQuitNow helpline

Smoking and the environment

These days, we all try to do our part for the environment. We recycle, compost, use public transportation...Being eco-conscious means keeping up with the times. And so is being smoke-free because not only is smoking hazardous to your health but it’s also bad for our planet:

  • 1 butt can take up to 12 years to decompose.
  • 1 single cigarette making machine uses 6 km of rolling paper per hour.
  • In South Africa alone, some 200,000 hectares of forests are destroyed every year to make room for tobacco farms.
  • Cigarette butts and packs make up 40% of Mediterranean sea waste.

Online resources:
Cigarette Butts Are Toxic Waste
Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) (World Health Organization)

Smoking and women

Smoking in women carries significant risks. Not only does smoking affect a woman’s body as a whole, but it can damage her cervix, ovaries and breasts in particular. If you’re planning to become pregnant, you should also know that smoking can affect your fertility by decreasing the amount of the eggs (reproductive cells) you produce. Smoking while pregnant also increases your risk of miscarriage, as well embryo viability, cell division and implantation. And, finally, female smokers are at higher risk for developing lung cancer than male smokers.

Online resources:
Smoking: Women's Health Perspective

Not just addicted to cigarettes?

Are you addicted to coffee, alcohol, marijuana or shisha tobacco as well as cigarettes? If so, you’re more likely to quit smoking if you stop consuming all of these substances or, at least, cut back. Here are a few suggestions that may help you:

  • Switch from regular coffee to decaf, bottled water, or a health drink.
  • Choose alcohol-free drinks or juice when you go out.
  • Offer to be the designated driver so you have a good excuse not to drink.
The tobacco industry: a money-making machine

Every year, the tobacco industry generates profits of $26 billion worldwide using a variety of marketing ploys to recruit new smokers who, unfortunately, quickly become addicted.

  • 34.9% of young smokers started smoking because of indirect advertising in movie theatres.
  • In Quebec, 15 to 24 year-old smokers spend approximately $250 million per year on tobacco products.
  • The industry tries to lure young people and women with ultra-thin cigarettes, flavoured tobacco products and cool packaging reminiscent of candy, iPods and other gadgets.

Online resource:
De facto

Protect your smile!

As a smoker, you will get KO’d much sooner than you think! If you’ve smoked a pack a day since the age of 18, you could lose 4 to 5 teeth by the age of 35-twice as many as non-smokers. Smoking affects your smile and your health.

  • Cancers: tobacco is the leading cause of oral cancer and throat cancer
  • Gum diseases: 50% are tobacco-related
  • Dental plaque
  • Cavities
  • Mouth sores
  • Yellowed teeth with black stains
  • Bad breath
  • Dulled sense of taste

Here are a few tips to protect your smile and your oral health: regularly brush your teeth (in addition to improving your oral hygiene, brushing is a great way to reduce cravings after a meal), floss and see your dentist and, last but not least, quit smoking!

Online resources:
Smoking and oral health - Ordre des dentistes du Québec

Stay away from shisha!

Have you ever heard of shisha or hookah? No? Maybe your friends have.

This latest smoking craze may seem harmless. The fruit-scented tobacco may even make you think it’s good for you, but think again: smoking shisha for an hour is like smoking 100 cigarettes!

And if you think shisha smoke is less harmful than cigarette smoke, you’re wrong because it also contains nicotine, carbon monoxide and carcinogens. In fact, a 45-minute shisha smoking session delivers 8.4 times more carbon monoxide than a single cigarette. Then there’s the fact that the chemical composition of shisha tobacco remains unknown. Not too reassuring, eh?

Smoking shisha puts you at higher risk for chronic bronchitis, heart disease and cancer. Because smokers use the same pipe, it also exposes you to communicable diseases spread through saliva like hepatitis, meningitis and tuberculosis.

So do yourself a favour and stay away from shisha!

Beware of caffeine!

Do you ever consume energy drinks to stay awake or be part of the gang? Caffeine can undermine your efforts to quit smoking by aggravating certain withdrawal symptoms. For instance, you may not sleep as well or be more irritable. That’s why you may find it helpful to drink less coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks within the first few weeks of quitting.

Here are a few tips to help you eliminate caffeine from your diet:

  • Avoid caffeinated and stimulant drinks (tea, hot chocolate) if they increase your cravings.
  • Get plenty of rest (take naps if you’re tired).
  • Exercise.
  • Drink decaffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee.
  • See your doctor if you have trouble concentrating or staying alert.
  • Eat fruits to boost your energy.
E-cigarettes? Maybe, maybe not…

A healthy cigarette: that’s what e-cigarette makers would have you believe, but is it true? While e-cigarette vapors do emit fewer toxic substances (like heavy metals and carcinogens) than tobacco smoke, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t harmful.

The truth is, we don’t yet know what the health effects of smoking e-cigarettes are, but it stands to reason that months – or years – or inhaling and exhaling glycol propylene vapor could be hazardous to your health.

Still, could they help you quit? There haven’t been enough studies yet to say one way or the other. What we do know is that some e-cigarettes contain nicotine and, because they aren’t regulated, amounts vary from brand to brand, making it possible for you to get addicted to them. Bottom line: you may as well stick to safer, more proven methods like nicotine gum or patches.

Some doctors still suggest e-cigarettes to those of their patients who find it particularly hard to quit because they feel that it’s a healthier alternative than smoking tobacco. If you’re interested in trying e-cigarettes as a quit smoking aid, the best thing to do is to speak to your doctor.