Tobacco addiction is the leading cause of preventable death in America, and as a result, there has been an increased focus on tobacco-free living. From quitting smoking to avoiding using cigarettes altogether, it can feel like quitting smoking is easier said than done. Smoking just isn’t that simple! The good news: There are some lifestyle changes you can make for yourself to ease your pain and reduce your risk. Being a living example of a tobacco-free lifestyle can be the best thing you can do to reduce your pain and boost your quality of life.
Remaining tobacco-free is both good for you and good for other people around you. Tobacco contains dangerous chemicals that can affect more than your heart – it can also lead to cancer, lung disease and other serious health problems. Remaining tobacco-free helps to protect children from getting hooked on cigarettes by exposing them to fewer harmful chemicals in the environment. The more you know about how tobacco harms the body and what steps you can take to avoid its harmful effects, the easier it will be for you to make those changes yourself.
1. Quit smoking.
Tobacco use is the most important single factor in heart disease, stroke and many other diseases. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, including some that are known to cause cancer and others that are linked to heart disease. In addition to these harmful chemicals, tobacco smoke is also extremely addictive; nicotine activates the pleasure centers of the brain and causes a number of physical changes in the body.
2. Ease your pain by avoiding secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a mixture of the gasses and fine particles released from the burning end of a cigarette or other tobacco product. SHS contains the same poisons found in tobacco smoke, including nicotine, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, as well as more than 60 known cancer-causing substances. Secondhand smoke also contains many toxic gasses such as toluene, formaldehyde and ammonia.
3. Ease your pain by avoiding chewing tobacco.
Chewing tobacco is any type of tobacco that’s put into the mouth but not smoked. It’s a powerful drug that can produce a quick, intense high. Chewing tobacco changes the way the body uses nicotine, and it often has other chemicals that are harmful.
4. Ease your pain by avoiding pipes and cigars.
These and similar products release many of the same chemicals as cigarettes, with some extra toxins added for good measure. There is no safe way to use these products, even if you don’t inhale the smoke or share them with others.
5. Ease your pain by keeping alcohol to a minimum or quitting altogether.
Tobacco use can continue even after you quit smoking. Alcohol is a depressant, and people who drink heavily often use tobacco as well. Smoking while drinking opens the door to nicotine addiction and greatly increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and other problems.
6. Ease your pain by avoiding sugary drinks or sugary foods in general.
Diet drinks contain about 10 percent to 20 percent of an average cigarette’s nicotine, so it’s no surprise that these drinks make you want a cigarette too. Sweetened sodas also trigger this craving by activating the pleasure centers of the brain with more nicotine than their taste alone would suggest. And you cannot trust anything labeled “diet” or “light.
7. Ease your pain by avoiding marijuana and other recreational drugs.
Heavy, prolonged marijuana use can lead to addiction, as many people find it hard to quit. That’s not to say that marijuana is dangerous in itself – some people who use it don’t have harmful effects on their health and may even live longer lives than those who don’t use it – but it does make tobacco even more difficult for you to kick, because the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug.
8. Ease your pain by avoiding the foods that make you crave cigarettes the most.
Foods or beverages that contain caffeine, including some sodas and chocolate, can trigger cravings for a cigarette. It’s easier to give in to a craving for nicotine if you’re also hungry, so learning to avoid junk food will help control your cravings in general.
9. Ease your pain by avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs while quitting smoking.
Addictive substances such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine can make it more difficult to quit smoking because they affect your body’s nicotine receptors and therefore its ability to handle nicotine.
10. Ease your pain by staying active in general.
Exercising regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you to avoid gaining excess weight after quitting smoking. Exercise helps to control the appetite, raises your heart rate and keeps the blood pumping nicely through the veins even when your body is in resting mode, so nicotine withdrawal is easier on an active person’s body.