MOST smokers begin the habit during adolescence or early adulthood. Smoking has elements of risk taking and rebellion, which often appeal to young people. The presence of high status actors and peers may also encourage smoking. Because teenagers are influenced more by their peers than by adults, attempts by parents, schools and health professionals at preventing people from trying cigarettes are often unsuccessful.
The myth understood by the average adolescence smoker is that smoking keeps the weight down and makes you look more popular. The harsh truth is that it attracts bad breath, paints your teeth yellow, wrinkles your skin faster and makes your clothes smell like a chimney.
Day after day, in my profession, I watch patients succumb to tobacco-related illnesses, yet cigarette companies continue to rake in billions and billions of ringgit every year. Have they no guilty conscience? Is the profits gained worth somebody dying every six seconds?
Can the Government tell me how this deadly product that contains thousands of chemicals and destroys almost every single organ in the body be allowed to circulate freely in the market?
Remember it is never to late to stop. Within 12 hours after you have had your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will decline rapidly, and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the damages caused by cigarette smoke.
As your body begins to repair itself, instead of feeling better right away, you may feel worse for a while. It’s important to understand that healing is a process; it begins immediately, but it continues over time. These “withdrawal pangs” are really symptoms of the recovery process.
Immediately after quitting, many ex-smokers experience “symptoms of recovery” such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention, irregularity, dry, sore gums or tongue. You may feel edgy, hungry, more tired, short-tempered than usual and have trouble sleeping. You may even cough frequently.
These symptoms are the result of your body clearing itself of nicotine — a powerful addictive chemical. Most nicotine is gone from the body in two to three days.
Tobacco use is the most common preventable cause of death. Soon after you quit, your circulation begins to improve and your blood pressure starts to return to normal. Your sense of smell and taste returns and breathing starts to become easier. In the long term, giving up tobacco can help you live longer. Your risk of getting cancer decreases with each year you stay smoke-free.
Quitting is not easy. Some people try several times before succeeding. There are many ways to quit smoking. Some people benefit from step-by-step manuals, counselling or medicinal products that help reduce nicotine addiction.
If you are motivated and concerned for your health and loved ones, contact your health care provider today for more information on the best way to quit smoking.
DR RAMESH GNASEGARAH,