Information Unlimited: All the facts you need to avoid heartache No.8 Quitting Smoking

EVERY DAY 300 people in the UK die as a direct result of smoking. Though 3 out of 5 smokers say they want to quit, 30 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men still smoke. 1,000 smokers in Britain give up every day.

Smoking - what happens

Although people say they use cigarettes to help them relax, they actually have the opposite effect. Smoking releases chemicals into the bloodstream which stimulate the brain and the nervous system, and increase heart rate and blood pressure. As the nicotine levels in the body drop, smokers become edgy and have to satisfy their needs with another cigarette.

Why are cigarettes bad for you?

Nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar are the three main components of tobacco smoke. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, carbon monoxide is the gas that car exhausts emit and tar is, well tar, which sticks to the lining of your lungs and makes it difficult for you to breathe. The other 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke have been linked with human cancers and coronary heart disease.

Passive smoking

The smoke that a person exhales (mainstream smoke) and the smoke from the burning end of their cigarette (sidestream smoke) pollutes the air and is in turn breathed in by other people in the room. Because of the risk, smoking is now banned in many enclosed public places, offices and on public transport. The Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974 is there to protect your right to a safe working environment. Being exposed to other peoples' smoke is a violation of that right and you can threaten to sue your employer if they fail to take action. Research shows that long-term passive smoking increases risk of death from lung cancer by up to 30 per cent. Smokers' children are more susceptible to bronchitis, asthma, allergies, eye, ear, nose and throat infections and are twice as likely to smoke themselves.

Stopping

Decide on a date to stop and stick to it.

Destroy anything to do with smoking; cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters etc.

Clean your clothes and air your home to get rid of the smell

Keep busy and change your routine so that you avoid situations that trigger your desire to smoke.

Remember the urge to smoke will pass in about five minutes.

Chew sugar free gum.

Eat fruit and drink water. This will help to speed the detoxification process.

Avoid alcohol which is a cardio-vascular dilator and increases your desire to smoke.

Take up exercise. Swap a bad habit for a good one.

It will take about three months before you begin to think of yourself as a non-smoker.

Nicotine Replacement Therapies

There are many different products available on the market, but there are two main types, those that contain nicotine (Nicotine replacement therapy, NRT) and those that don't.These aids won't stop you smoking but they may help you stay stopped.

1. The Patch: Applied like a plaster, it releases a continual supply of nicotine at a low dose into your bloodstream. It costs about pounds 15 per week.

2. Gum: Comes in different strengths and releases an immediate dose of nicotine which can help during a bad urge. It costs about pounds 15 per week.

3. Nasal Spray: Nicotine nasal sprays are only available on prescription. Use 10/15 times a day.

4. Inhalator: Nicotine is released into the mouth through a simulated cigarette. Costs up to pounds 25 per week.

Feeling the benefit

8 hours after your last cigarette the oxygen levels in your body return to normal.

24 hours later, the carbon monoxide is gone from your bloodstream and the lungs start to clear.

48 hours later there is no nicotine in your system and your sense of taste and smell will improve.

After 2-12 weeks you will see an improvement in your breathing and circulation.

After three months wheezing subsides and lung function can increase by up to 10%.

After 5 years you are 50% less likely to suffer a heart attack than a smoker.

After 10 years you are 50% less likely to get lung cancer than a smoker.

Quitline freephone 0800 002200

ASH - Action on smoking and health - 0171 224 0743 or visit their website on http://www.ash.org.uk

Lifesaver website on www.lifesaver.co.uk

`Women Unlimited - The Directory for Life', Penguin pounds 9.99

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