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World Health Day: Winning the War against Tobacco

Today is World Health Day. Our third new year resolution for a healthy 2021 was to quit smoking. I hope this post helps those of you who are bravely waging a personal war against tobacco.

Thankfully, I don't share this resolution as my knowledge in this regard is limited by a lack of personal experience! However, I've helped a few of my patients in their efforts to 'kick the butt'. And am happy to share the insights gained.

It's probably not surprising to know that smoking is on the rise among urban women in India. And thanks to being surrounded by smokers, passive smoking is several times more common & just as dangerous.

Why you must quit?

That smoking causes (and the causal relationship is well established now) the following is common knowledge. But it deserves a reiteration -

  1. Lung cancer

  2. Lung disease like emphysema, COPD

  3. Oral cancer

  4. Anemia

  5. Bladder cancer

  6. Decreased fertility

  7. Faster aging

  8. Anxiety & irritability

  9. Heart disease

  10. Stained teeth & fingers

  11. Blood clots

  12. Erectile dysfunction in men

How you can quit?

Here is a five-step path that might help you get started on this, or any other, life-altering journey.

  • Do you really want to quit?

A lot of people say superficially that they'd like to quit, but don't mean it deep within. Saying it without conviction erodes your self confidence and makes you question your ability to act on your decisions. Check within. Are you somewhere happy and comfortable with it or are you unhappy with the dependence, troubled by its effects.

  • Delve deep into yourself.

Remember the first time you picked up a cigarette and tried one. Who were you with? What was the setting? Why did you inhale? Some of the answers my patients tell me - peer pressure, belonging to the cool group, boredom, curiosity - hide within them a way out.

  • What was the point of infection?

Notice the transformation point when it became a need from simply being a voluntary choice. When you started depending on it for feeling well & nice. How has the consumption grown, maybe from one occasional cigarette to several a day?

  • What are your present circumstances?

Once you understand what your circumstances and motivations are, you can channel them to help you prioritise this lifestyle shift. From involuntarily reaching out to the smoke, to consciously dealing, in other ways, with what it is that you're feeling.

  • Professional help

Set yourself up for success. Tie up with a professional for ongoing support. Just like people find run-buddies for marathons, find yourselves buddies in this endeavour. Shift the paradigm from taking cigarette breaks with smoke buddies - take healthy breaks to celebrate the win over it with them.

If you have the 'want' to quit, the 'how' to quit will follow easily.


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