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Smoking cigarettes is risky business.
Whatever pleasures are received from smoking must be weighed against the long-term health consequences of introducing 70 known cancer-causing chemicals into your lungs. Our days are spent managing risk. Should I cross the street before waiting for the light to change? Can I drive another few miles before stopping for gas? What about that frayed wire on my toaster?
Improving health by lowering risk involves changing behaviors. Despite the TV ads there is no magic way to lose weight or prevent disease. The Greek philosopher Socrates suggested:
"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."
Stages Of Change Process
There are several steps involved in what is called the Stages of Change Process.
also known as blissful ignorance
concern about something
getting ready to change
keeping up the change
As you read this you are acknowledging that you have moved from the pre-contemplation stage to contemplation, or maybe even the preparation stage.
Helping You Decide Which Strategy To Use
In helping you change how you smoke, we are offering the following possibilities.
Anything we place into our bodies does have some risk of doing harm. The following allows you to weigh which strategy feels most comfortable for you but also which one will help you achieve your goals.
Changing risky behavior can occur overnight or over time.
The strategies noted below can help you begin to change. Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!
Stopping smoking without any aids all at once is the safest. You may have tried this before and you may know that you will likely experience some discomfort from suddenly stopping.
Other Types of Products
Nicotine is the drug in cigarettes and other products like cigars or pipes that keeps us coming back. By itself it is much safer than smoking cigarettes and it will satisfy the craving for nicotine. There is some risk in that it speeds up your heart rate but when you compare that with smoking, nicotine replacements are much safer.
There are three products that have been used in the U.S. for many years: nicotine patch, gum or lozenge. Nicorette and Nicoderm are popular over-the-counter brands.
Snus is powedered, pasteurized tobacco that comes on little pouches that are placed under the lip. This product is used around the globe but only recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.
Electronic cigarettes also known as vapes are also newer and have only been used in the last 10-12 years. You may have heard various pros and cons about e cigs. The recent adverse events that have to do with the addition of a substance (vitamin E acetate) and most of these events have had to do with vaping cannabis. We are just beginning to learn the long-term health effects of vaping but do know that millions of people around the globe have vaped for the last ten years without any adverse events.
There are two medications (Chantix or Zyban). These medications are different than nicotine products; they don't contain nicotine. They work on brain substances that help reduce the craving to smoke. Like all medications, there are some potential side effects. It is hard to compare the safety of these medications to the nicotine products as these vary soemewhat with individuals.
Reducing your smoking
Reduce the number of cigarettes per day. This is likely the least safe approach, but moves you in the right direction.
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