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Motivation to Quit Smoking

no smoking sign

When it comes to smoking cessation, the American novelist Mark Twain said it best: “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Twain had clearly struggled with quitting smoking and had numerous past quit attempts, like millions of others. 

The truth is that your success in quitting smoking depends on two things - the severity of your nicotine dependence and your motivation to quit. Even heavy smokers can successfully quit smoking, provided they are motivated. However, while motivation to quit smoking can be high on day 1, it often wanes over time. Yet, strong motivation, combined with a comprehensive smoking cessation program, such as nicotine gum to fight off nicotine withdrawal symptoms, is critical for your long-term quitting success.

So, how do you stay motivated to overcome your nicotine addiction? What should you do when you have the urge to smoke a cigarette? And what can you do to suppress nicotine cravings and stay smoke-free? Please keep reading for some tips on sustaining the motivation to quit smoking. 

What are 5 good reasons to stop smoking?

1. Quitting smoking will lower your risk of heart disease

A smoker has a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to a non-smoker. But within a year of smoking cessation, the risk of heart attack drops by about half. Ex-smokers who have been smoke-free for 15 years have a similar risk as a non-smoker.

2. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of cancer

Many people are aware of the link between smoking and lung cancer, but most people don’t know that smoking cigarettes is linked to more than 15 different types of cancer. One of the biggest health benefits of quitting smoking is that it reduces your risk of lung cancer and other cancers.

3. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of respiratory diseases

Smoking is directly responsible for almost 9 out of 10 deaths from lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you can garner the motivation to quit smoking and be successful, it can reverse some of the lung damage caused by cigarettes.

4. Quitting smoking improves your sex life and fertility

Smoking, including exposure to secondhand smoke, is linked to decreased fertility in both men and women. If you have been trying to get pregnant with no luck, smoking cessation can significantly improve your chances. What’s more, you can enjoy better sex because quitting smoking can make a huge difference in sensitivity by improving blood flow to the sex organs. Women who quit smoking may find they are experiencing stronger orgasms. Men may find they are getting stronger erections after smoking cessation.

5. Quitting smoking saves money

If you’re a smoker, you know it’s an expensive habit. The average pack of cigarettes in the U.S. costs just under $7, up to $14 in states with higher taxes, like New York. A smoker can spend over $1 million on their smoking habit over a lifetime if you take into account healthcare costs. Now think of all the things you can do with that kind of money.

Why is cigarette smoke so harmful?

There are thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco. At least 70 of these chemicals are carcinogens (known to cause cancer). Many of the chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health problems. The complex mix of chemicals and additives in tobacco includes:

  • Nicotine (the addictive chemical that produces the “high” associated with cigarette smoking)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Ammonia
  • Benzene
  • Polonium-210 and other radioactive elements
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs)

Keep in mind that cigar smoke has many of the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes, only in different amounts. Smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco also contain harmful chemicals and cancer-causing agents. You should know that no smokeless tobacco product has been proven to help with smoking cessation.

How do I motivate myself to stop smoking?

There are several ways that are proven to sustain the motivation to quit smoking. Three useful ones are described below.

Develop a healthy habit

After your quit date, you’ll find yourself struggling with a strong urge to smoke. This is especially true if you quit smoking cold turkey. One way to deal with these nicotine cravings is to transfer your addition to something healthy, such as exercise. So, every time the urge to smoke arises, get up and do a quick exercise routine like going for a brisk walk. This is an excellent long-term strategy for the quitting process for several reasons. 

One, it takes your mind off the urge to smoke. Two, the dopamine released during exercise helps to correct the chemical imbalance in your brain. This can help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Three, there are several health benefits because exercise can reverse weight gain and make your lungs stronger. Lastly, replacing your nicotine addiction with exercise has mental health benefits. As you move forward in your journey of stopping smoking, you stay motivated to quit because you don’t want to jeopardize all the health gains you have made. 

Identify your triggers

If you are making a serious attempt to quit smoking, it’s important to identify the roadblocks in your quit smoking motivation. Your smoking cessation outcome depends on it. Stop for a minute and think about what stops you from quitting smoking. Is it the reaction of friends or family members who are current smokers? Are you unconvinced about the benefits of smoking cessation? Do you lack access to effective cessation interventions? 

The answers to these questions can help you in predicting smoking cessation outcomes. Because while the motivation to quit is a huge factor, it’s hard to stay motivated if you have hurdles blocking your way. Once you have identified any potential roadblocks, you’ll find it easier to address them. 

Use visual reminders

A great way to sustain the motivation to quit smoking is to have visual reminders in your home and workplace. This does not necessarily have to be grim statistics of lung cancer deaths or autopsy pictures of smokers’ lungs. It can be a motivational poster that lists your health goals or a photo of the things you’re going to enjoy with all the money you save by quitting smoking. A physical visual reminder can help you stay on track when the going gets tough and you’re on the verge of reaching for that packet of cigarettes.

How do I get my mindset to stop smoking?

The nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive and leads to a physical nicotine dependence. That’s why when you quit smoking, you experience uncomfortable nicotine withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, motivation alone is not enough for many smokers. Of course, some people are able to quit cold turkey, but you should not shy away from getting help in the form of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy). It’s available in various forms like sprays, chewing gum, lozenges, inhalers, and patches. Nicotine replacement therapy can relieve some of your nicotine cravings during nicotine withdrawal, allowing you to focus on the emotional aspects of quitting smoking.

Another way to get into the right mindset for stopping smoking is to seek out a social support group or the encouragement of friends and family members. Studies show that regularly sharing your progress in quitting smoking and talking to others who are on the same journey is a great way of staying motivated to quit smoking. Social support makes you less likely to relapse and you feel less alone while you quit smoking. 


References:

  1. https://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/health-matters/health-and-wellbeing/reasons-to-quit-smoking
  2. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/carcinogens-found-in-tobacco-products.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC338109/
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/smoking-and-respiratory-diseases