Go Stoptober!

Yesterday in the UK Stoptober 2013 began heralding the nation’s biggest stop-smoking campaign. It is anticipated that more than 180,000 smokers will attempt to quit the habit for the next 28 days at least. It’s a well-known fact that the support of a group can help smokers to quit so surely the knowledge that thousands of smokers are all taking up the same challenge must boost chances of individual success. Statistics show that smokers trying to quit who are members of a supportive group are four times more likely to succeed than those going it alone.

Smokers can sign up on the Stoptober website and claim a free stop-smoking pack which contains a calendar complete with daily tips and advice designed to help participants reach their goal. Regular email or text messages containing encouraging words can be sent direct to quitters throughout the month to help them keep on track. There’s also a Stoptober Twitter feed with a current following of over 13,000.

Benefits of quitting

When people quit smoking there’s often the misconception that they’ll be miserable. In actual fact, they tend to suffer less from anxiety and depression after they’ve given up. Giving up smoking is the most important thing you can do to improve your health, both now and in the future even though the withdrawal symptoms you suffer at the beginning of your quitting campaign can make you feel worse.

The body repairs itself very quickly and the minute you stop smoking, the carbon monoxide poison you’ve been inhaling is replaced by lovely, clean oxygen. Consequently, your lung function immediately improves and you have much more energy.

Stoptober quitters’ timeline to better health

October 1st/2nd – your body’s repair work has begun. Carbon monoxide levels fall and mucus is cleared from the lungs. Your chances of suffering a heart attack decrease.

October 3rd – Withdrawal symptoms kick in but your sense of smell improves. Your body is now a nicotine free zone.

October 8th – Your skin is becoming smoother and friends remark that you have a healthy glow and look really well.

October 9th – Your circulatory system is beginning to improve noticeably and your lung function is better.

October 12th – Welcome back your sense of taste!

October 14th – Those tell-tale yellowish stains on your fingers should begin to disappear.

October 16th – Well done! Now your energy levels are beginning to feel boosted. Keep it up!

October 25th – The repair job on your lungs continues and you’ll now notice your exercise tolerance and fitness levels creeping up.

If you want to be a part of Stoptober, check out the website at stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk.

Good luck!

 

 

 

*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

Stoptober – Gimmick Or A Long Term Strategy to Quit Smoking

 An estimated 180,000 smokers in the UK have joined the national campaign funded by Public Health England to encourage people to go through 28 days in October without a cigarette. It’s a strategy base around group support, intensive social media campaigning and practical support offered through information packs, text messages, mobile apps and daily emails. Stoptober’s Twitter feed already has over 13,000 followers so there are certainly plenty of other would-be quitters out there to share experiences with.

The Stoptober app is pretty good. It offers daily tips and badges that reward users for each day without a cigarette. It has a motivation function allowing you to carry a picture, video or audio clip around reminding you why you want to quit, a savings calculator to tot up all of the money you’re saving and a help button with content and games to distract you if you feel that you’re about to give into the cravings.

Does Stoptober really work though? The campaign states that over 160,000 UK smokers succeeded in the 28-day challenge last year, but is less forthcoming with data on how many of these successes carried on to quit for good – or for the last twelve months at least. My own view is that whilst quitting for 28 days certainly won’t do any harm, the focus on just reaching a set target of days is unhelpful. It’s a bit like giving up drinking for a month in January as a health kick – by 1st January most participants are desperate for a binge drinking session and spend the first few days of February in an alcoholic haze!

That said, I’m giving it a go. Research suggests that people who crack the four week target for going without a cigarette are five times more likely to quit permanently and the National Council for Smoking Cessation and Training argues that moral support is also an effective motivational tool. It’s been a while since I made a concerted effort to stop and it’s a method I haven’t tried before. I’m writing this post after dinner on day two, and it’s so far so good….

 

 

*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

The Most Exotic E-Liquid Flavors You Have Got to Try

First of all, with regards to the recent proposals concerning international governmental clamor for e-cigarette regulation of sales, I’m all for it. Study it, regulate it, make the companies comply with the requirements and ban it for minors. I totally agree with that. Next up, I am an e-cigarette user for three months now and have had no health problems whatsoever. Finally, I am disclosing that I get paid for any blog post that I make that gets published on the front page. I am a real human being with my own personal opinions and my Read more

E-Lite Advertising Campaign Receives UK Ban

Scandal rocked the advertising industry and threatened to place major obstacles in the way of the newly emerging e-cigarette industry recently when an advertising campaign for E-Lites electronic cigarettes was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK. Read more

The Power of Plants Can Help You Quit

Have you ever considered turning to natural herbal remedies to help you quit smoking ? These herbs appear to have a very good success rate, as they work in harmony with your body, so are physically better for you than, for example, nicotine patches or electronic cigarettes. Smoking is so addictive because of all the chemicals in cigarettes – smokers actually become more addicted to those than the tobacco! Generally people smoke due to anxiety, nerves, etc., to calm them down in stressful situations – cigarettes give them a temporary high, which helps to take their mind off the stress. So relaxing the body and mind is very important in being able to quit successfully.

One of the best herbs to use for this purpose is St John’s Wort, which also treats depression and mood swings, as it helps to improve mood and relax body and mind. Another equally beneficial herbal supplement is saffron extract, which boosts serotonin levels in the body, as St John’s Wort does, and in this way is a mood-improver, and also helps with weight loss (so smokers do not need to worry so much about gaining weight after giving up cigarettes). Another herb that has been reported to help cure addiction to nicotine is lobelia. Apparently if you are taking lobelia tobacco will taste bad, which should act as a good deterrent. Lobelia helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and it is chemically similar to nicotine – in fact you can even get it in patches, like the nicotine ones! So definitely worth a try.

There are also two other herbs, catnip and valerian, (incidentally both highly popular with cats,) which can be very beneficial to smokers, as they help to reduce anxiety, and so take the stress out of quitting. So do try this one (and your cat will love it too, if he/she also has a heavy nicotine habit!) Chamomile is worth mentioning, since it is a famously soothing herb, which will help you sleep. Also it’s good to try peppermint, as it is not only calming, but it can also soothe any GI distress which sometimes occur when you stop smoking, as does ginger, marshmallow root and slippery elm.

A spice that is invaluable for boosting the immune system is turmeric, which also helps to rid your body of the carcinogens that come from smoke. Additionally coltsfoot will promote healing in your lungs, allowing toxic substances to be brought up ,and it  promotes regeneration in the tissue. Garlic is also great for boosting your immune system and  also regenerating your lungs. There are also plenty of other lung-healing herbs you can try, like elderberry juice, mullen, astralagus root, eucalyptus, fennel, plantain and a few more (ask at the health food shop). They will help to open up your airways so that you can breathe properly and promote healing

All of these herbs and supplements should be available at your local health food store. I  definitely don't recommend taking all of them in tandem though! Just try some out and see what works for you. They are not cheap usually anyway, and you may think, how can you afford them? Just think of all the money you currently spend on those noxious cigarettes! You could spend that cash on herbs to help you quit instead, and then save the money once you stop taking the herbs! (at least the herbs are not addictive).

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog and your votes and comments are much appreciated.

 

 *Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

 

Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction

With over 1 billion people smoking worldwide it is estimated that one in three adults smoke. The number will probably continue to rise each year. The most prominent health effects of smoking are lung cancer, heart disease and COPD and have been well documented over the last two decades. A male physical difficulty that you wouldn't think had anything to do with smoking has been recognized as well.

There are thirty million men in the U.S. suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) today and it is expected to double by 2025. Impotence in males can actually be caused by several factors including smoke from cigarettes which damages blood vessels that supply the penis with a flow of blood and help in the sexual erection.

ED becomes more prevalent with age and chronic smoking is a major risk factor. Long term smoking causes detrimental affects on the vascular nerves, structural damage to tissue and this impairs arterial flow to the penis or a spasm to the penile arteries. Whether it is the nicotine or the smoke in cigarettes is still unknown. The stimulation of nicotine in the brain also causes rapid contractions in the penile tissue; this restricts arterial blood flow in the penis and is known as Vesospasm, impacting the ability of the heart to pump blood that is needed to achieve and maintain an erection prolonged smoking also causes arterial sclerosis or hardening of the arteries. This slows the flow of blood to the penis and can prevent a man from achieving an erection at all.

With the heart having to work harder it becomes weaker and less blood reaches the penis which impacts the strength, stamina and frequency of erections.Compared to their non-smoking counterparts smokers as young as thirty to forty years old have between 50-80% increase of erectile dysfunction.

Smoking also causes anxiety which is a major factor for impotency. By ceasing to smoke, you can reduce the anxiety levels and allow your body to rejuvenate and heal itself. This will allow you to have a longer and healthier sex life. Hypnotherapy is something that seems to help with the anxiety.

There are five ways that cigarettes can cause impotence. Carcinogen-laden smoke builds up in the lungs. With a mixture of carbon monoxide and nicotine from a cigarette increasing blood pressure and heart rate this causes strain on the heart and blood vessels. Lack of blood flow causes for weaker erection. Inhaling carbon monoxide deprives the brain, soft tissue and muscles of oxygen which makes your entire body work harder. This makes the erection weaker and even harder to get. Smoking also results in fat deposits in the blood vessels and this constricts the vessels and makes for blood starved reproductive organs.

Taking medication for erectile dysfunction such a Cialis, Viagra or Levetra is not a permanent cure for men who continue to smoke. This may help improve erection but they only cure a symptom and the best permanent cure is to stop smoking.

 

UK Smoking Ban in Prisons – Unfair or Justified?

Earlier this week it was announced that the UK Prison Service is considering introducing a pilot scheme which would ban smoking by inmates in all areas of UK jails. Although sites for the trial scheme have yet to be chosen, it is intended that the pilot could be launched as early as next spring with an outright ban to follow in 2015. Medical organisations have welcomed the news but there are fears that a smoking ban could cause disruption in prisons.

A spokesman for the Prison Officers’ Association voiced concerns about the ban and said he anticipated problems as around 80% of the prison inmate population smoke and many use the habit as a way of coping with life inside. However, smoking has already been banned successfully in young offender institutions in the UK and in prisons in Canada, which is encouraging. There would clearly be health benefits too for non-smoking prisoners and prison staff if prisons became a smoke-free zone. In fact, legal action has been threatened previously by prisoners and staff who have suffered the effects of passive smoking.

Coping mechanism

Stress-related behaviours such as self-harm and anxiety disorders are common among the prison population and smoking tobacco is a way of coping with this. Choosing to smoke is one of the few choices left available for prisoners and many will see a ban as a threat to what little independence they have. Prisoners who smoke are no different from smokers generally in that they can’t just be expected to give up tomorrow without some sort of help and support. Nicotine patches will be provided although that is not thought to be adequate and there are considerable rumblings of discontent to be heard already.

Tobacco is also used as a form of currency among inmates and the removal of cigarettes and tobacco from prisons will effectively put an end to this in-house trading medium.

Objections have been raised on the premise that being at liberty to smoke is a basic human right and some prisoners have threatened legal action if the ban is implemented. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that smoking is already banned in communal areas and a prisoner’s cell is the only place they are actually free to relax with a cigarette if they need one.

Precedent set

The ban was first mooted in 2007 when a general ban on smoking in public places was rolled out across the UK and Ireland. Prisoners were exempt at that time because their cells were classed as “domestic premises” and as such were outside the parameters of the law. Non-smoking prisoners could not be forced to share a cell with a smoker.

Earlier this year, Guernsey and the Isle of Man introduced a blanket smoking in their prisons and this is reported to have gone well so far. Prisoners hoping to quit are provided with patches and access to the Quitline telephone support service. Those who do not wish to give up have been allowed to purchase e-cigarettes.

It is certainly a contentious issue. With prison services stretched to breaking point and tension running high in overcrowded and underfunded prisons, a ban on smoking could prove to be the catalyst which sparks serious unrest and rebellion. On the other hand, it could see many more long term smokers giving up for good. Let’s hope for the latter.

 

 

*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

Gateway or Help for Quitters

E-cigarettes have helped people to quit who were not successful using other products. But to know if they are a gateway to other tobacco products it will take continued observation. E-cigarettes do deliver tobacco to the lungs and physicians are worried about the affects this may have on adolescent development of the brain. An estimated 160,000 students Read more

What We Should Fear

Terrie Linn McNutt Hall.

Remember the name. It’s a name that will live on for many years to come as the voice for all smokers who have fallen prey to cancer. She died just 8 days ago on September 16, 2013. On her deathbed, the Center for Disease Control took videos of her as she passed. Read more

E-cigarettes – the low down

Stopping smoking is never easy so anything new that aids the process is welcomed with enthusiasm by would-be quitters. The latest quitting tool to hit the market is the e-cigarette; but what exactly are they and how can they help you? Read more