For decades now people have been consuming tobacco, making it a part of their lifestyle despite knowing it’s negative impact. We all know tobacco consumption in the for of smoking, chewing tobacco etc. is harmful to our health, so why do people get addicted? How does it become a part of their lifestyle? And why is it so hard to quit it?
Peer interaction is one of the leading causes of tobacco dependency in the youth of today. If their friends, colleagues or family members consume tobacco, there is an increased chance of the person being influenced to adopt this habit as well. Other factors that contribute are stress, isolation, anxiety and heredity.
Tobacco Stats in India
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills more than 7 million people every year which comprises 1 million people from India annually, smoking being the fourth leading cause of non-communicable disease (NCD).
From children to youth, men and women to most of the citizens in the country, it can affect almost everyone, if not controlled. Smoking and smokeless tobacco are the leading causes of innumerable preventable diseases which is why, it is never too late to drive the message across that – Smoking Kills!
Why is Tobacco So Addictive?
It is no news that once people start consuming tobacco they have a hard time quitting. This is because tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine, being its main ingredient, which is addictive. But the question is, why is nicotine addictive?
Tobacco Hits our Brain
- Every time a person takes a puff of cigarette or chews tobacco, our brain gets a “dopamine hit” from nicotine.
- Dopamine is one of the happy hormones our body releases through other ways as well. For example: eating what we crave, post exercise, watching a comedy show etc.
- It contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as a part of a reward. Dopamine boosts our mood, motivates us and helps regulate emotions. That is why people get addicted to smoking which helps them feel happier and destressed.
Tobacco and your social life
Since consuming tobacco is a lifestyle choice, it also affects our social life. It affects different people, in a different way but here are some of the usual ways it impacts social life:
People around you feel like you are a bad influence
Smoking has side effects and everyone knows it. That’s why when you smoke, people around you especially parents with children, or elderly members find it uncomfortable to be around those who consume tobacco. The initial thought process is that the person smoking/consuming tobacco is a bad influence.
Passive smoking is another major contributor to this, the main reason why smoking harms you and those around you. It is equally harmful to especially those with breathing issues like asthma, sinusitis etc.
Smoking can affect friendships and other relations or might isolate you
Some of you friends might be tolerant of your smoking habits. However, for someone who likes interacting with new people in their personal and professional life, they often come across people who do not appreciate smoking or other forms of tobacco consumption.
This can hinder relationships, personal and often professional growth. It puts you within a certain group of people, restricting interactions with other social circles.
How tobacco threatens your life
Not only does tobacco affect your social life, it also affects your body. If the pictures on cigarette packets weren’t enough, here is a list of a few of the illnesses caused by consuming tobacco.
Ways to Resist Tobacco Cravings
If you’re trying to quit smoking, congratulations! You have already taken the first step towards success.
Here are some ways you can successfully quit tobacco!
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy: There are several options under this therapy. These include prescription nicotine in a nasal spray or inhaler, over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, prescription non-nicotine, stop-smoking medications such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix). It’s best to consult a doctor about such therapies and do it today.
- Avoid Triggers: For those habituated to tobacco, there is an urge to have tobacco in the situations you are likely to consume it. If you usually smoke in parties, while having caffeine or when stressed, meeting a friend who smokes too, try to avoid such situations or replace tobacco with having something light. Like, having an electric vapour, then switching to a light snack and soft drink. Go slow.
- Delay: When you feel like smoking, delay it by at least 10-15 minutes. Distract yourself with something else. Keep yourself busy. This way you reduce the frequency of your urges.
- Chew on it: When you are not having your regular meals, try to keep chewing a gum, a sugar free candy, salads, fruits, nuts etc. Do not keep your mouth empty.
- Exercise: Exercising is one of the best ways to release dopamine and other happy hormones naturally. Apart from keeping us healthy, exercising also keeps us mentally stronger and remove distractions in life. This can help you reduce the number of times you smoke and the fitter you are, the less you indulge in smoking, drinking etc.
- Relaxation Therapies: Apart from working out, you can also indulge in other activities which can make you happy. Here are some options – playing your favorite game, getting a pet for yourself, helping others, reading, watching a movie, writing, taking a body massage, meditating, socializing with people with healthier habits, setting up bigger goals in life, learn something new etc.
- Ask for help: If you feel like, you are doing it all and still not progressing, you can join a community which helps quit tobacco. Taking help from people can change your attitude, habits and bring in some positive values.
- There is never “just one”: Don’t promise yourself to have just one and stop. It doesn’t work. Tobacco is addictive and it will make you crave for more which will ruin your progress. Try to stay away from it completely and avoid having such products at home. This way you will have better control.
- Remind Yourself: Always remember why you started and how far you have come. Remind yourself every day that you have to be better than you were yesterday. You can do it!
It’s never too late to start with a new journey in life. Everything is possible and so is quitting tobacco. It’s all about staying determined with a goal in mind. If you can stay mentally strong, nobody can stop you from being physically strong and decide what habits to adopt in life.
Go slow, be patient, every step counts.
If you do not consume tobacco, but know anyone who does, help them quit by sharing this blog with them! Your efforts count.
Stay healthy, stay fit.