Smoking is bad for you. We will observe World No Smoking Day on 31 May. This is the right time to kick the butts. Get determined and equipped to stop smoking…. writes Shambhu Gupta MSc DIIP
There was a UK No Smoking day on 9 March 2016. Did you refrain from smoking on that day? Have you continued to abstain from smoking since? If yes, well done and congratulations. If you missed the UK no smoking day , then the World No Smoking Day is coming on 31 May 2016. These are symbolic efforts to make smokers aware about the dangers of smoking and to inspire them to somehow find the will, motivation and method to give up smoking.
Every year over six million persons die worldwide due to tobacco smoking. A further 600,000 passive smokers also die because they happen to be either friends or family members of smokers. In India alone there are over 275 million smokers and this problem is increasing in China.
Tobacco has nicotine, which is very addictive in nature. After smoking a few times, one can get addicted and it becomes difficult to stop smoking. Smokers feel helpless as they know the damage their habit does to their finances, health and family but cannot kick the habit.
There are many ways of quitting this habit. Each has its limitations and difficulties. The so called Cold Turkey method when someone abruptly stops smoking, generally does not work.
A person suffers craving, anxiety, irritation, depression, constipation, insomnia etc. After a while, a person gets fed up and starts smoking again.
There are nicotine patches which people put on their arms or thighs to supply the nicotine to the blood to reduce the symptoms. Over a period of time, the strength of nicotine in the patches is reduced, hoping eventually to live without any nicotine. The success rate of this method is better than cold turkey method. This method is worth considering.
Then there is the new craze of Electronic cigarettes or vaping. E-cigarettes are basically a mixture of chemicals that are vaporized by heat generated by the use of batteries. This mixture of vapors is inhaled by the smoker. We are told that this helps smokers to quit smoking but they are still putting dangerous chemicals into their lungs. Moreover it glorifies smoking and even those who normally do not smoke a cigarette get attracted by the advertising campaigns and start vaping for fun. The vapor contains cancer causing molecules.
In my view the method of Cutdown and Quit is more effective in helping people to quit smoking. The smoker suffer minimum withdrawal symptoms and slowly builds one’s own will power to resist the temptation of smoking.
When cigarettes are lit, paper and tobacco burn and a mixture of over 70 chemicals is produced. One then inhales this cloud of smoke. The three most dangerous components of that are carbon monoxide, tar and nicotine. This mixture goes to the lungs where blood is being brought by arteries to be purified by mixing it with oxygen. When we take a breath, we inhale air which is mainly a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. Along with air, we also take Prana, the Shakti or Agni from which all life flows. Our lungs were not designed for this misuse. Their sole purpose is to keep us alive and well by working non-stop from the time we are born, till we leave this world having completed our journey.
For a smoker, unfortunately the blood, instead of getting purified in the lungs by oxygen, is being contaminated by over 70 chemicals. Nicotine gets dissolved in the blood. Carbon monoxide reacts with the hemoglobin in the blood slowly poisoning the smoker. Tar clogs up the fine membrane of the lungs which has millions of small pores.
The air sacs of the lungs when spread out on a flat surface would cover an area of 140,000 square feet. This places a continuous burden on the health of a person till one gets either heart disease or lung cancer. It is advisable for a smoker who wants to quit smoking to read a book called “The Science of Pranayama” written by Swami Sivananda in 1935 and available from Amazon or the Sivananda Ashram in Putney, London. This will help you to understand your lungs, their role to keep you going and the role of Prana, in helping to get your will power back. Prana is the sum total of all the energy that is manifest in the universe. Heat, light, electricity and magnetism are the manifestation of Prana. Prana is related to mind and through mind to will, through will to the individual soul, and through this to the Supreme Being.
Even if a person does not get lung cancer, the general health of a smoker is poor, rapidly deteriorating in the last few years of life. Care in old age is difficult and expensive. Currently it can cost over £40,000 per year to live in a care home. The quality of life is not good. The days of a joint family system are long gone, when family members used to take care of sick and old.
The body tries to get rid of the nicotine by breaking it down to smaller molecules. But the smoker keeps adding a new burden to the body continuously, thus deteriorating health further.
Cutdown and Quit Method
A smoker should resolve to quit smoking. They should try not to borrow or give a cigarette and avoid groups of people smoking. Burn your own cigarettes and then you will have greater control on the number of cigarettes smoked.
A smoker should try to understand one’s smoking habits and prepare a timetable for smoking. Instead of lighting one after the other, a smoker should try to create a reasonable gap between cigarettes. A smoker’s blood is used to a certain level of nicotine and the the will power is weak. You can only slowly increase your will power and make your own system accept to function at a lower concentration of nicotine. People do not confuse the ‘will power’ with desire. However , strong your desire is, it can only work if there is real will to do.
If you currently smoke 15 cigarettes a day, under this cutdown and quit method, smoke 10 cigarettes a day for a week to 10 days at designated times. If you feel a craving at 9.30 but the allocated smoking time is 10, then wait. This determination helps to increase the will power and at the same time you are unlikely to suffer any cold turkey symptoms.
Then cut it down to 8, 6, 4 and 2, every 2 weeks, allowing your system to adjust. Your lungs and blood will start purifying. Then one morning, stop smoking altogether. Your will power will have increased. Your blood will be able to function without the help of nicotine. And you will feel good about yourself.
In the process you will help your finances, family, health and environment. So much good quality land and water resources are allocated to growing tobacco and manufacturing cigarettes. These land and water resources can then be used to grow wheat, rice and corn to feed the hungry.
If we can help 100 people to quit smoking, we will consider it a success and well worth the effort. Involve your GP in your project to quit smoking as they are well equipped to guide and monitor your progress. But a word of caution do not fall in the hands of charlatans who will promise you the earth but deliver nothing. There is no silver bullet. Drive to quit smoking has to come from within you.