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Smoking and Tobacco Smoke
General Precautions

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Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking can make a big difference to your health and the health of those around you. Many people avoid quitting because they are afraid they will gain weight. And to no surprise, practically everyone can name a friend or relative who has had this experience. The fact is most people gain only 3 to 10 pounds when they quit smoking. With healthy eating and increased activity, your body can return to a normal weight quickly.

Moreover, the health risks of smoking far outweigh the small amount of weight gain you may experience. Smoking affects all bodily systems increasing your risk for cancer, heart disease, and digestive, circulatory, and respiratory problems. As your smoke free days grow, your energy levels and activity abilities will rise helping you feel healthier.

Even people who have already developed smoking-related illnesses can benefit from quitting. Among smokers who have already had a heart attack, quitting smoking reduces the chances that they will have a second heart attack by 50%, compared to those who continue to smoke! While there are many benefits to stopping smoking, many directly impact your eating and activity.

Benefits of Becoming Smoke Free
  • Your blood pressure drops to normal 20 minutes after your last cigarette.
  • One day after your last cigarette, your chances of heart attack and stroke start decreasing.
  • Two days after your last cigarette, your senses of taste and smell begin to heighten.
  • Your lung capacity begins to improve only after only 3 days.
  • Within the first month, you can start experiencing more energy and your walking and aerobic exercises become easier.
  • Compared to smokers, people who quit smoking are more likely to exercise regularly. This can help quitters to stay off cigarettes and avoid or minimize weight gain.
  • By 3 months, your lung function increases up to 30 percent.
  • Your risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease reduces by 50 percent 1 year after your last cigarette.
  • In 5 to 15 years, your risk of developing heart disease and stroke reduces to that of someone who never smoked.

The bottom line: The sooner you quit, the more you and everyone around you will benefit.

Are You Prepared?
The key to staying physically healthy when quitting smoking is being prepared. Understanding the physical and psychological dependence, habit, and pleasure that you experienced when smoking is the first step. Many smokers report that they enjoy the taste, smell and feel of cigarettes. Finding an adequate replacement for cigarettes that will avoid excess calories can help. Furthermore, anticipating the physical side effects of quitting can help you to be proactive in safeguarding your health.

Strategies to Minimize Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
Time Course
Strategy to Alleviate
Headaches During 1 to 2 weeks after quitting
Hunger First month after quitting
  • Try low calorie snacks and beverages
  • Exercise can help curb your appetite
Constipation First few weeks after quitting
Sore or dry throat
First few weeks after quitting
  • Sip cold water
  • Sugar free gum or candy can help keep your throat moist (avoid sorbitol in gastrointestinal disease)
  • Cough drops may help

Helpful Hints
Below are a few tips from ex-smokers that they used when trying to quit and avoid unwanted weight gain. You may need to try several, a few times, before you find one that is right for you.

Advice from Ex-Smokers on Quitting and Staying Healthy
Have something handy to replace a cigarette and keep your hands and mouth busy.
  • Keep a bottle of water around to sip
  • A toothpick or straw can give you something keep you busy
  • Keep crunchy vegetables and fruits around to for snacks
  • Try sugar free candy, lollipops, or gum (avoid sorbitol with digestive disease)
  • Popsicles are low-cal, fat-free and taste great
  • Snack on unsalted sunflower seeds in the shell
  • Pretzels can be a low fat snack choice
Keep your mouth feeling and tasting fresh
  • Brush your teeth often
  • Suck on sugar free mints (avoid sorbitol with digestive disease)
HALT yourself: Are you feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?
  • Try a healthy sandwich or piece of fruit if you are hungry
  • Writing in your journal, talking with a friend, or taking a walk can help
  • Take a nap
  • Take steps to reduce stress in your life
  • Take a 20 minute walk when you have the urge to smoke
  • Do as many push-ups as you can, if you still want to smoke, you have to do it within 30 seconds of finishing your pushups
  • Routine exercise 3-4 times a week can help you feel healthier and more energetic
Avoid other drugs
  • Avoid drugs that may make you less inhibited and weaken your resolve to not smoke
  • Avoid alcohol, especially if it is your routine to smoke when you are drinking
  • Limit caffeine, a stimulant like nicotine, that can contribute to irritation, agitation, and dehydration

If some of these remedies first appear too costly, remember: Being smoke free for one week, 280 cigarettes not smoked for a 2 pack a day habit, means saving roughly $45.00 US, not to mention adding about 1 day to your life.

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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