You may or may not be surprised that tobacco use is declining. In Australia in 2019, we actually had the lowest percentage of daily tobacco use with 11% of the population smoking daily, compared to 24% in 1991, and 12% in 2016. Also, on average, people are smoking less per day, smoking 13 cigarettes per day in 2019 compared to 16 in 2016. So here’s a post about the health implications of smoking, the health impacts of quitting smoking, and the road to recovery!
Why are people smoking tobacco less?
It could be because of tobacco’s impact on health. We know that:
- Smoking damages nearly every part of your body, even some of the less obvious ones like your stomach, intestines, bladder, eyes, ears, nose, muscles, bladder and spine.
- Smoking is linked to disease including cardiovascular disease.
- Smoking can cause cancer. And not just lung cancer, also cancer in your mouth, throat, nose, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, and bowels. It also increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Smoking affects mental health – it can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety, panic attacks.
- Smoking ages you.
- Smoking can make you snore.
- Smoking affects fertility.
- Smoking is linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.
- Smoking can result in sexual dysfunction.
It’s not all doom and gloom - as distressing and concerning as some of these health effects can be soon as you stop smoking, your body begins to repair! Here's what happens:
- Within 6 hours, your blood pressure becomes more stable.
- Within 24 hours, the nicotine is out of your bloodstream, the oxygen can reach your heart and muscles easier, and your fingertips become warmer.
- Within 1 week, you may find improvements in your taste and smell.
- Within 3 months, you may cough and wheeze less, your lungs begin to recover, your body is better at fighting infection, and your blood becomes less thick and sticky so blood flow to your hands and feet improve.
- Within 6 months, you cough up less phlegm, and feel less stressed than you did when you were smoking.
- Within 1 year, your lungs are healthier and you’re able to breath easier!
- Within 2-5 years, your risk of heart attack and stroke has decreased, for women the risk of cervical cancer is the same as someone who hasn’t smoked.
- Within 15 years, your risk of heart attack and stroke is similar to someone who has never smoked.
- Get support – A great first step is to link in with a service that specialises in quitting smoking, like Quitline. They can help you with coming up with a plan, set you up with a QuitCoach, or help you manage urges.
- Build a plan – Quit has a fantastic tool that helps you create a plan, click here.
- Read about some tips and tactics – Quit provides some ideas of tools and strategies to help get you through, click here to learn more.
- Create a list of possible distractions – Being proactive in coming up with strategies for managing urges through distraction can be really helpful when urges arise, what can you do if you're struggling with urges? If you're stuck for ideas, you can try some here.
- Have a cheer squad – Share with your nearest and dearest that you're going to make a change, and reach out to them to celebrate milestones or if you're having a tough time and need extra support.
- Be kind to yourself – Progress isn’t linear, sometimes we take 10 steps forward and 1 step back. When you mess up don’t start again on Monday, get back on that horse as soon as possible. But always remember, you’re doing your best, change takes time.
Call QUITLINE on 13 7848 or click here
I would love for those of us here who have experience with quitting smoking to share your stories, and maybe answer one of the following questions:
What’s your experience with quitting smoking? What worked and what didn’t?
What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
What advice would you give a friend who is having trouble smoking?
What benefits did you experience when you quit smoking?
What distraction techniques worked for you?
How did you celebrate your wins and milestones?