Although the dangers and health risks associated with cigarettes and other tobacco products are widely known, smokers can’t seem to step away from the habit and culture, even when they want to.
More than 16 million Americans are living with some sort of negative health effects from tobacco use, with lung cancer being one of them. So it’s time to take control of your health and take the needed steps to quit smoking.
“But it’s hard!”
Yes, putting out your last cigarette can be difficult, and the effects that nicotine and other harmful chemicals have on your body can differ between each smoker. Understanding the reasons why you should quit smoking will help bring purpose to your goal.
Following these tips and tricks can lead you toward a smoke-free lifestyle. Let’s get started!
To start your path towards smoking cessation, you need to first understand why you can’t simply stop in the first place. This feeling that you need another cigarette is known as addiction.
Tobacco and other addictive substances consist of three main forms of addiction, including chemical dependency, social interactions, and physical habits.
With each smoker being more or less addicted to certain elements, it’s important to understand your personal obstacles to best create a quit plan.
With cigarettes, this addiction is caused by nicotine, a cancer-causing chemical in tobacco. With a chemical being the primary factor, this form of addiction is known as chemical dependency.
Chemical dependency first affects your brain by signaling certain parts of your brain to fire, releasing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which is responsible for happiness, deep rest, and other feelings of positivity due to its role in your brain’s reward system.
Your body enjoys these feelings, so while nicotine, carbon monoxide, lead, and other chemicals produced as tobacco burns may be causing damage, you still want more.
While social interactions or peer pressure may seem less of an obstacle as an adult, the idea of a friend offering a smoke when you don’t have one is very real.
We’ve all been there -- your buddy didn’t pull out his pack as usual when you went for a smoke break, so you give him a quick, “need a smoke?” You’re just being nice, right?
While this is no big deal when everyone’s smoking, this becomes a major obstacle as you’re trying to quit. Of course, you want to talk and socialize with the same group you have every day during smoke breaks.
As a smoker, you will likely build a habit of lighting up at various times throughout your day.
It’s common to smoke a cigarette with your morning coffee, during your commute to and from work, before or after a meal, and even after sex. It’s normal to sneak a cigarette into your daily routine, so, unfortunately, even your daily routine can become an obstacle or trigger.
The key to fighting addiction is choosing which form of addiction you would like to overcome first.
When attempting to quit cold turkey, you are fighting chemical dependency, while social interactions and triggers can make quitting unbearable.
Instead, using substitutes for tobacco smoking will allow you to challenge different elements of addiction while satisfying others. While there are other methods to fighting addiction, substituting your usual smoke with non-tobacco or non-marijuana alternatives has been tried and proven to help many smokers step away from tobacco and live a healthier lifestyle.
Take Advantage of Alternatives
Like working through any dilemma, gathering tools is essential for better chances of success. When the goal is to quit smoking, these tools are known as alternatives.
Alternatives allow you to continue smoking to satisfy your physical and social addictions while pulling away from nicotine. Since nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco, once this chemical dependency is reduced, smokers can more easily quit smoking altogether.
A common and successful alternative is hemp cigarettes.
Hemp cigarettes look, feel, and are even packaged the same as a traditional cigarette, with the exception of being filled with hemp instead of tobacco and chemical additives.
While hemp is technically a form of cannabis, it remains highly regulated to contain less than 0.30% THC, meaning you get a natural smokable product that offers benefits for relaxing and helping you maintain your ritual without psychoactive elements.
Some people also turn to e-cigarettes or vaping to quit traditional tobacco.
It’s important to have these alternatives on hand before you cut cigarettes out of your day-to-day life, giving you something to use when cravings become too much.
Tell The People Around You
Withdrawals are the physical and emotional changes that occur when you stop using addictive substances. This is your body’s way of pushing you back towards using.
A common withdrawal from nicotine includes becoming short tempered, irritable, and having outbursts of emotions. These emotional events could become troublesome when aimed at nonsmokers, especially a loved one, coworker, or boss.
Instead of waiting and hoping you don’t have these mood swings, take the time to sit down or talk with the people around you and explain that you’re trying to quit smoking, and that these symptoms commonly last one to four weeks.
You may want to apologize in advance.
You also want to include the people you normally smoke with. While some may encourage your smoking habits, many fellow smokers can be highly supportive of your goal and will help you say “no,” and even stage interventions when necessary.
Wean Yourself Off Nicotine
For many smokers, the idea of simply quitting nicotine and dealing with these mass emotional swings and physical nicotine withdrawals may be less than ideal. In these cases, controlled forms of nicotine, also known as nicotine replacement therapy, allow you to slowly reduce your intake of nicotine over time.
A popular form of controlled nicotine are nicotine patches.
These patches can be found in a wide range of potencies, which are stuck to the skin in places such as your arm or leg, and release nicotine over time.
When using nicotine patches, it’s important to reduce the potency over time. These patches can be used alongside smoking alternatives like hemp smokes, allowing reduced withdrawals while the alternatives momentarily relieve the physical and social components of addiction.
Some other forms of nicotine replacement therapy are:
- Nasal sprays
- Nicotine gum
Patches, lozenges, and gum can be bought over the counter, while nasal sprays and inhalers are prescription medications. Consult your doctor or health care provider first if you plan to use them.
Aside from nicotine alternatives, there are also FDA-approved medications that aid in smoking cessation, such as Varenicline (Chantix) and Bupropion (Wellbutrin).
Throw Out Your Cigarettes
While the idea of throwing out your pack may seem crazy, removing the possibility to grab another cigarette makes it easier to not relapse.
With the tools to quit smoking in place, it’s time.
Avoid placing your cigarettes in a drawer or tucked away somewhere. This would allow you to grab another cigarette when you're craving, setting you back. Instead, throw them out for good.
Within the first one to three days, you can expect the effects of nicotine to wear off, causing you to feel a bit irritable. Over the next few days, you may find some trouble sleeping or staying focused.
During this time, you may find yourself wanting a cigarette at your normal times. Consider avoiding smoking altogether during some of these times while relieving only some of your cravings using your smoking alternative.
Around four days after your final cigarette, your withdrawal symptoms will begin to worsen, causing increased irritability and mood swings. During this time, you may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, increased heart rate, nausea, or loss of energy.
Usually, these effects cause many smokers to panic and go back to cigarettes.
If the feeling becomes too much, pull out your low-dose nicotine patch and stick it on. You want just enough nicotine to relieve the overwhelming craving, but just enough. While some of these cravings are physical, many remain mental. Be sure to utilize your hemp cigarettes to “smoke” and relieve your withdrawals.
Why Not Other Tobacco?
When many smokers decide to quit, they try smokeless tobacco or other forms of smoking, such as chews, dips, pipes, or cigars.
While these forms may pull you away from cigarettes or from smoking altogether, they still remain packed with nicotine. You would remain chemically dependent on nicotine, and many people often become addicted to this new form.
In the worst cases, you may even continue smoking while using this second form of tobacco. This is why you should quit smoking by using tobacco-free products.
Keep It Up
Now that you’ve quit smoking tobacco, it’s important to keep in mind that withdrawal symptoms are temporary and that those major cravings only last a couple of weeks.
While the general cravings or want to grab another pack may arrive from time to time, these later symptoms can be quickly overlooked. Stay strong, and keep a pack of Oklahoma Smokes Hemp Cigarettes on hand to relieve those cravings without tobacco or nicotine. Good luck!
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FAQs on How to Quit Smoking
1. What are the effects of smoking on your body?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking could cause the following:
- Lung diseases
- Heart disease (increased blood pressure and heart rate, etc.)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
2. What are the most common side effects of quitting smoking?
Nicotine withdrawals could affect people in different ways, but here are some of its most common side effects:
- High appetite leading to weight gain
- Nicotine cravings
- Effects on mental health (irritability, anxiety, depression, brain fog)
3. What are the health benefits of quitting smoking?
There is a multitude of benefits to quitting smoking, according to Smokefree.gov. It helps you break the mental pattern of addiction and improves nearly every aspect of your health, especially your head, face, lungs, heart, DNA, immune system, etc.