Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Becoming an Ex-Smoker

Ask anyone who smokes whether a teen smoker or a lifetime pack–a–day smoker, quitting can be tough. Infact, it seems quite a number of people get on the bus then hop off long before they get to their destination. Yet, with the right game plan tailored to your needs, you can break the addiction, manage your cravings, and join the millions of people who have kicked the habit for good and hold the status 'I AM AN EX-SMOKER'.

To smoke or not to smoke is a lifestyle decision that significant effects for the person and others people around the smoker. While there exists a vast array of resources (online & offline) with varying claims of success when it comes to helping a person become a non-smoker, the first step in this journey is Why?
It is true smoking has harmful effects and various people decide to stop smoking for diverse reasons. 

However it is critical that having made up one's mind to stop smoking, this journey starts by answering the question 'why do I smoke in the first place?'. This is because since smoking is a habit that has gone on for some time, to stop requires one being motivated by a powerful, personal reason to quit. This could range from wanting to protect friends & family from second-hand smoke (shs) effects, desiring younger-looking appearance,  no smoking policy in your new office amongst others.

The truth is no two people stop smoking for the same reasons owing to our personalities and circumstances but every smoker requires appropriate motivation to change status. Answering the why question and other follow-up questions will greatly aid one's ability to stay the course while embarking on the journey.

After outlining our answers, the next step is to choose a specific quit date e.g. I will quit starting from Oct 1. For some folks, they try to quit smoking each year on their birthday or make 'I will stop smoking this year' another New Year's Resolution that more often than not bites the dust. Choosing a quit date has been shown to greatly increase the odds of achieving set objectives as it makes it more likely that you’ll succeed.

However, so as not to lose motivation to quit, it is recommended that the quit date chosen be within 2 weeks though, so one will have enough time to prepare. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change.

Those who have succeeded with their smoking cessation mission also enlist the help of their friends, family and co-workers by sharing their 'stop smoking' plan with them so they can support & encourage one especially through the rough times. Doctors have also been found to be of great support in these instances so have a chat with yours about your decision to become an Ex-smoker.

Research indicates that most people who fail to complete the journey of becoming an ex-smoker d so within the first 3months as they give in back to the craving for a smoking. For some, it starts gradually i.e. with a puff, others a stick but eventually, such persons are fully in the smoking habit again. This makes it essentially to anticipate there will still be cravings to smoke and plan for these challenges one will face.

Average Number of Cravings

Removing all cigarette packs, lighters, matches, and ashtrays from your home, car and office drawer is our next practical step as eliminating such handy options has been proven to help ensure one stays the course. Please note there is no room for saving an emergency cigarette pack as with the decision to quit comes going cold turkey. One must go further to wash clothes, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture basically freshening up anything that smells like smoke.

The use of substitutes like mints, sunflower seeds, toothpicks has aided ex-smoker get used to not smoking. Physical exercises e.g. play a sport, go to the movies, walk along your street, catch up with smoke-free friends for a gaming session and hang outs, etc are essential tools to deploy during the journey.
If you ever "slip" and smoke while trying to quit, forgive yourself and do not get discouraged. Simply pick up yourself and begin again one day at a time. The key is to not give up, no matter how hard it feels as your courageous decision to become an Ex-smoker is one worthy of emulation. We ask that you spread the word and join efforts with us in making Nigeria a smoke-free zone.

Join the campaign for Tobacco Control legislation in Nigeria by signing up as a Cause Champion. Simply send your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone No and 4) Location to info(at) Signing up will get you a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus' and Fela Durotoye's pictures.

You should also actively participate in the discussions presently ongoing on the following social media platforms:
- Twitter: Follow @TobaccoCtrl
- Facebook: Visit and like Tobaccoctrl
- Google Plus: add Tobaccoctrl to your circle- 2go: add Tobaccoctrl

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Benefits of a smoke free Nigeria


After the ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and subsequent domesticationbyindividual countries, there were initial fears that restrictions on smoking may have an adverse impact on businesses. However, as the legislation took effect, what researchers discovered was that businesses had actually been on the losing end with non-restrictive smoking.

Workplaces that allowed smoking had cases of decreased productivity as a result of disease and premature death caused by smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke. Also they faced more health hazards and spent more on insurance premiums, cleaning and maintenance costs.

In addition to remedying the negative economic impact of smoking on businesses, a smoke-free environment also considerably intervenes in reducing the burden of disease attributable to tobacco use by protecting people from not just smoking but exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS).  

We know that SHS contains nicotine, carcinogens, and toxins and exposure to SHS is carcinogenic to humans. Article 8 of the World Health Organization (WHO) FCTC categorically states that "scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability.” Globally, about half of non-smokers are exposed to tobacco smoke at their workplaces, homes, bars and in public transport and about 10-15% of lung cancers in this set of people is attributed to SHS.

Having smokers keep their smoke to themselves will mean millions of Nigerians, particularly pregnant women and children will be free from exposure to SHS. Based on the experience of nations that have instituted measures to ensure a smoke-free environment, we should also expect to witness an almost immediate reduction in incidence of heart attack with rapid improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. wheezing and coughing) and sensory symptoms (e.g. upper airway and eye irritation).

Smokers who had been attempting to quit enjoy immense boost to actualize their aspiration in environments that smoke-free regulations are promoted and enforced. For example, after government, businesses, homes and other establishments began implementation of smoke-free regulations in Ireland, the country experienced 33% reduction in smoking prevalence in one year as a result of immense public support and high level of compliance.

Smokers who quit and free themselves from the health crippling habit are known to experience a reduced heart rate, lowered blood pressure (blood pressure are usually abnormally high while smoking), decreased level of carbon monoxide in the blood and improvement in lung functions. In the long run, quitting also reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases such as heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by smoking.

So, for smokers resident in Nigeria who have been striving to quit, instituting a smoke-free environment may just be that final catalyst that will catapult you to the highly desirable, valuable and propitious non-smoker status.

Join the campaign for Tobacco Control legislation in Nigeria by signing up as a Cause Champion. Simply send your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone No and 4) Location to info(at) Signing up will get you a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus' and Fela Durotoye's pictures.

You should also actively participate in the discussions presently ongoing on the following social media platforms:
- Twitter: Follow @TobaccoCtrl
- Facebook: Visit and like Tobaccoctrl
- Google Plus: add Tobaccoctrl to your circle
- 2go: add Tobaccoctrl

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why would a 'Clean' Nigerian want to smoke?

In developed countries, it is not rare to find accomplished professionals and  family-oriented persons who smoke and don't mind if their status is open knowledge to family, friends and colleagues. However, this is not the case in Nigeria as the act of smoking is not only a designated health issue but a moral one.

For example, a girl would never think of mentioning to her parents that her boyfriend smokes and for a girl who smokes, she might as well forget about being married to her fiancé if his parents ever finds out that she's got the puffing habit.

Despite the health implications and cultural stigma that should naturally prevent learned persons from taking that first puff, there are still 'clean' people who defy these inhibitions and still navigate their life into the path of a smoking habit. We borrowed the word 'clean' from the local lingo and it refers to a person who is economically comfortable, good looking and appears to be responsible.

In general, Nigerians view smoking as a vice that should not be condoled and this may explain why 'clean' people who smoke do so through a closeted lifestyle. A major evidence to this fact is the lack of pictorial content on the web depicting a 'clean' Nigerian smoking. We typed in the words "Americans smoking" in the popular image search site - and on the first page, we could immediately site one 'clean' American smoking. We did the same with the phrase "British smoking" and we sited even more 'clean' people on the first page including women. Another search on "Chinese smoking" and the first page showed so many 'clean' Chinese men puffing away.

Finally, we typed in the words "Nigerians smoking" and we could not find a single full faced clean person smoking on either the first or second page of the search result. So, if smoking is such a taboo in Nigeria, why would a 'clean' person still take up the habit?

We spoke to some professionals who smoke with the intent of understanding what could have led them to a lifestyle that is physically dangerous and culturally frowned upon and these are their own words -

“I am an Engineer. I started smoking in 1997 when I was in University and got into smoking out of my will due to peer pressure. I wanted to be among the happening guys. Back then if you can’t beat them, you join them. I knew I definitely wanted to join them because if you don't,  you'll be seen as out of fashion or a slacker plus I was scared of losing my friends.”

“I am a Medical Doctor. I started smoking when I was in JSS 3 but got really addicted when I got to the University. I was adventurous as a kid, I had seen a lot of people smoke, so wanted to try it out myself and before I knew it, I got hooked.”

“I am self employed, I started smoking in 2005 after my Dad passed away, i was very close to my Dad so couldn’t believe I won’t see him again, the stress, the pressure led me into smoking. It was easy for me to dabble into it because my elder sister also smoked. I now enjoy smoking so don’t think I will stop any time soon.”

“I am the CEO of a company. I started 3rd year at the University as a casual smoker. Each time my friends and I hung out, I will try a few sticks but didn't really get addicted to it. I've stopped though, but I can say that it was a good distraction.”

In life, habits can be very hard to break and smoking is even more difficult as a result of nicotine contained in cigarettes and it is clear that most of the people interviewed took up smoking at a young age when they are yet able to appreciate the impact and implications of smoking on their health. We hope their responses would help parents and guardians who are grooming tomorrow's 'clean' Nigerians to know how best to protect their wards from taking the first puff so they'll be free from smoking-related diseases and hazards.

Join the campaign for a tobacco-free Nigeria by signing up as a Tobacco Control Cause Champion. Simply send your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone No and 4) Location to info(at) Signing up will get you a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus' and Fela Durotoye's pictures.

You should also actively participate in the discussions presently ongoing on the following social media platforms:
- Twitter: Follow @TobaccoCtrl
- Facebook: Visit and like Tobaccoctrl
- Google Plus: add Tobaccoctrl to your circle
- 2go: add Tobaccoctrl

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Major Reasons Why People Smoke

The concept of smoking as a habit will remain one of those paradoxical issues of life. This is because there is no known rational benefit to smoking and the prevailing messages indicate several proven health defects that should make anyone run for their dear lives on sighting cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Despite all that have been said on why it is bad and wrong to smoke, it is intriguing that some people are still living with this debilitating habit and in a bid to try and understand why they do what they do and determine if their reasons hold water or not, researchers from different parts of the world have at varying times asked them the question - Why do you smoke?

Going through the diverse reasons noted in relevant publications, we have put together the major reoccurring reasons why smokers defy very obvious health warning messages to inhale hot puffs of dangerous substances:

1. To ease stress and pressures and feel relaxed. Smokers are able to derive this feeling because nicotine triggers the release of dopamine in the brain - a chemical linked to feelings of pleasure.
However, nicotine has also been proven to be quite addictive as smokers start to make a mental link between the act of smoking and feeling good. Because of this, smokers can also become addicted to abstract things like the taste of cigarettes or the feeling of smoking, as well as the nicotine itself.

2. To feel cool. The average smoker took his/her first puff as a teenager. It is interesting that a large number of people who fall in this category acknowledge they took up smoking due to peer pressure where friends and/or family member are avid smokers and not wanting to be left out, the person tags along with the chain of smokers.

3. As a rewardMost of us are hungry for reward. An average smoker after a great achievement, love to reward themselves with one or two sticks of cigarettes to congratulate and give themselves a pat at the back. According to the words of one smoker - The first and last cigarettes in the day are especially significant rewards.

4. As a drug. Most smokers use cigarette as a drug, cigarettes are deliberately designed to give a fast nicotine hit. It takes just 10 seconds for the drug to reach the brain from inhaled cigarette smoke, therefore giving smokers a sense of immediate mental boost.

5. Peer pressure. This is one of the common factors that cause people to smoke especially during the teenage years which represent the time of life when young people rely mostly on friends of the same age for social support and affirmation. Teenagers are easily lured into smoking by their friends and since they don’t want to feel left out or seen as a slacker, they easily dabble into it and then get addicted.

6. Genetic Predisposition. Studies of addiction genetics have shown that if there is an addiction such as smoking found along a person’s family line, he/she is likely to be addicted to smoking as a result of possible subtle mutation in his/her gene formation.

7. Rebellion. Between the ages of twelve and sixteen, children really begin to push buttons in terms of rules and social boundaries. One way of doing this is to smoke cigarettes despite – or perhaps because of – pleas to the contrary, just to prove a point. Usually parents do not allow their underage teens to smoke and this makes smoking very attractive to them and it becomes exciting to get cigarettes and sneak away to smoke without being caught.

8. Social StatusSocial status is another weighty reason why people smoke. Many smokers took that first puff only for the purpose of fitting into a particular social circle/crowd and continue to smoke so as to sustain the group's acceptance and enjoy the camaraderie.

 9. Advertisement. Research has suggested that, worldwide, tobacco advertising plays a role in the number of people who start or stop smoking. The industry spends a great deal of money on making cigarettes seem glamorous, appealing, fashionable and attractive in order to lure people to desire smoking and they end up getting stuck in the habit. Everyone wants to feel fashionable and glamorous; therefore if smoking can help them achieve this, they don’t mind getting into it.

10. Parental InfluenceAccording to some studies, a parent's choice to smoke can more than double the odds that the child will smoke. The relationship between parents smoking and their children smoking is blunt - Children of active smokers are more likely to start smoking than children of non-smokers, or children of parents who quit smoking.

We'll like you to be the judge. Are these reasons substantial enough for anyone to carry on with a habit that can lead to an early grave and leave behind grief-stricken family and friends?