Stop Smoking Tobacco
for a Healthier Life



Tobacco use is the single most important preventable risk to human health in developed countries and an important cause of premature death worldwide; as described by the "Center for Disease Control and Prevention" in the United States.

The World health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2002 that in developed countries, 26% of male deaths and 9% of female deaths were attributed to smoking, which caused major health effects including risk in lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Regular smokers are estimated to live 2.5 to 10 years less than nonsmokers with about one-half of male smokers dying of illness due to smoking.

Related illnesses kill approximately 438,000 USA citizens per year, about 1,205 per day, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

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The main health risks in tobacco pertain to diseases of the cardiovascular system such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), diseases of the respiratory tract such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, and cancer of the lungs, larynx, and mouth.

Prior to World War 1, lung cancer was considered to be a rare disease, which most physicians would never see during their career. With the postwar rise in popularity of cigarette smoking came a virtual epidemic of lung cancer.

Currently, among people who have ever smoked, almost one in ten will develop lung cancer and one in six men who continue to smoke will develop lung cancer. This compares to only one case of lung cancer in 75 lifelong non-smokers.

There is some good news though! A person's increased risk of contracting disease is directly proportional to the length of time that a person continues to smoke as well as the amount smoked. However, if someone stops smoking, then these chances gradually decrease as the damage to their body is repaired.

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Nicotine is an addictive substance, especially when taken in by inhaling tobacco smoke, making smoking cessation difficult at times for many people.

Research in western countries has found that approximately 3-5% of quit attempts succeed using willpower alone and clinical trials have shown that Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can double this rate to approximately 6-10%.

Alhough multi-session psychological support from a trained counselor, either individually or in groups has been shown in clinical trials to have a similar effect to that of NRT the best chances of success seem to be obtained by combining medication and psychological support.

Some additional cessation statistics are as follows:

  • Seven percent of over-the-counter nicotine patch and gum quitters quit for at least six months.
  • A physician's advice to quit can increase quitting odds by 30% to 10% at six months.
  • High intensity counseling of greater than 10 minutes can increase six month quitting rates to 22% when added to any quitting method, cold turkey or NRT.
  • Quitting programs involving 91 to 300 minutes of contact time can increase six month quitting rates to 28%, regardless of the quitting method.

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While some smokers are successful with their first attempt, many people fail several times, even in the face of serious smoking-related disease in themselves or close family members or friends.

Some conventional techniques which can increase tobacco user's chances of successfully quitting are:

  • Quitting "cold turkey": abrupt cessation of all nicotine use as opposed to tapering or gradual stepped-down nicotine weaning. It is the quitting method used 80 to 60% of all long-term successful quitters.
  • Smoking-cessation support and counseling is often offered over the internet, over the phone quit lines (e.g. 1-800-QUIT-NOW), or in person.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy, NRT: pharmacological aids that are clinically proven to help with withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and urges (for example, transdermal nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, sprays, and inhalers).

Some alternative techniques for quitting are:

  • Hypnosis; clinical trials studying hypnosis as method for smoking cessation have been inconclusive, although many people have had good results.
  • Herbal preparations such as Kava and Chamomile.
  • Acupuncture; again clinical trials have not been in favor of the benefits derived from acupuncture.
  • Attending a self-help group such as Nicotine Anonymous and electronic self-help groups such as stomp it out.
  • Laser therapy based on acupuncture principles but without the needles.
  • Quit meters: small computer programs that keep track of statistics such as amount of "quit time", cigarettes not smoked, and money saved.
  • self-help books (Allen Carr, "Fresh Start Method" etc.). Some of these claim very high success rates but little externally verified evidence of this success exits.
  • Spirituality: spiritual beliefs and practices may help smokers quit.
  • Smokeless tobacco.
  • Herbal and aromatherapy "natural" program formulations.
  • Smoking reduction utensil
  • Smoking herb substitutes.

Tobacco cessation will almost always lead to a longer and healthier life. Stopping in early adulthood can add up to 10 years of healthy life and stopping in one's 60s can still add 3 years of healthy life.

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