Disclaimer: Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any program to quit smoking. Women who are pregnant or nursing, people on certain medications, people with medical conditions, and the elderly must take precautions and seek medical advice, even if you are using over-the-counter products.
Maybe, like most people, you started smoking in your teens, to look “cool.” Or maybe you smoke because your parents smoked, or all your friends smoke, or you started off “only smoking when you were drinking,” or “only smoking when you were stressed.” Whatever the reason, chances are you’re hooked, and whether you think about it every time you light up or try not to think about it at all, we all know that smoking is a good way to get cancer, lung disease, heart disease, or a host of other nasty health problems. But quitting is hard- really hard. Most people need some help to quit successfully.
The nicotine in cigarette smoke causes changes in your brain chemistry and central nervous system, and is highly addicting. When you smoke your first cigarette of the day, nicotine helps wake you up and makes you feel more alert. Later on, nicotine, and the act of smoking itself, makes you feel calm and relaxed. All in all, the more you smoke, the more you want to smoke. Your body craves more nicotine, you become physically dependent on it, and you suffer physically and psychologically when you try to quit.
The only good thing you can say about nicotine is that it doesn’t cause cancer. It’s the smoke that causes cancer. The smoke contains tar which is made up of more than 4,000 chemicals, including cyanide, benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia. Sixty of the chemicals in tar are carcinogens and many of them also cause heart and lung disease. All sixty can kill you. About 50% of the people who continue to smoke will die due to smoking. Tobacco use causes nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States and tops the list as the most preventable cause of death.
What It Costs To Smoke
Here are a few items from a Fact Sheet published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about smoking and tobacco use in the United States:
- In 2005, Americans spent an estimated $88.8 billion on tobacco products.
- In 2006, approximately 371 billion cigarettes were purchased in the United States.
- In 2005, cigarette companies spent over $13 billion on advertising campaigns.
- From 1997 to 2001, cigarette smoking was responsible for approximately $167 billion in annual health-related economic losses in the United States.
- Cigarette smoking results in 5.5 million years of potential life lost in the United States annually
- In 2006, the average price of a pack of cigarettes (nationwide) was $4.26 (although prices vary greatly from region to region).
- Smokers pay much higher health insurance and life insurance premiums than non-smokers.
- The resale value of your car is reduced if you or your passengers smoke while driving. It’s virtually impossible to get rid of the smoke smell.
- The same goes for your house. If your carpets, walls, and drapes are permeated with the smell of cigarette smoke, costly cleaning will be necessary before you can put it up for sale, and even then, residual odors reduce its value.
It’s an economic no-brainer: Based on the 2006 national average price, if you smoke a pack a day, every day, you’re spending $1,555 a year on cigarettes, and killing yourself at the same time.