Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take for long term healthy aging and for your looks.
Of the 50 million smokers in the US – one in two will die early from a smoking related condition – many of these in middle age.
Your health isn’t the only thing at risk either. Smoking and aging are connected. If you care about how you look and want to look younger for longer – smoking cigarettes is the last thing you should be doing.
So if you’ve just had an important mid life birthday – or are coming up to one – now is a good time to stop. Carrying on smoking will undermine the effects of any anti aging products you use in an attempt to look younger. Continuing to smoke also undermines your cardiovascular system and makes problems like varicose or spider veins more likely – neither of which does much for your looks.
The truth is – you probably already know that you need to quit smoking – the question really is what can you do about it?
Chances are if you just try to go cold turkey you will fail. Current research indicates that 95% of people who try to quit smoking without any form of practical help fail to quit smoking for good. This isn’t proof of how many weak willed people there are in the world – it simply shows how addictive smoking is.
But don’t let that put you off quitting smoking. The good news is if you use some form of practical help to ease yourself off nicotine and combine it with our top ten quitting tips you have a very good chance of succeeding.
Nicotine Replacement can help
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is now accepted as having a big impact on your chances of success – research has shown that it can double your chances of quitting smoking for good.
Experts all over the world have given Nicotine Replacement Theraphy the thumbs up. In the US – NRT is recommended by the American Lung Association – especially when used with a behavior change program to deal with the smoking habit.
In the UK – NRT is part of a government funded program to help everyone who wants to quit smoking – so NRT is available free as part of a special smoking cessation program.
NRT is self funding
In the US whilst there is no free NRT program – you will find that nicotine replacement therapy pays for itself.
As soon as you quit smoking you stop paying for cigarettes. As a result you will be better off even after you buy your patches, lozenges or gum! When you finish NRT (usually after around 8-10 weeks) you’ll have much more spare cash since no more of your hard earned money will be going up in smoke.
The most common NRT products are: nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges. Products can be used separately or combined as part of a quitting smoking strategy. All deliver enough nicotine to help you quit smoking and come with free programs for you to follow.
How it works
All NRT products work in the same way by giving you small doses of nicotine in the early stages of quitting smoking – typically the first eight to ten weeks. As reported by the American Lung Association: “nicotine replacement lessens the chances of suffering from several of the major smoking withdrawal symptoms such as tenseness, irritability, drowsiness and lack of concentration”
Nicotine patches deliver between 7-14 mgs of nicotine through the layers in the skin. Patches have many benefits as they release the drug directly into the bloodstream without passing through the intestine or stomach. There is less risk of the nicotine being neutralized by stomach acids or causing nausea.
Nicotine is also released at a constant level throughout the day without you having to worry about taking any medication or waiting until you feel the first pangs of nicotine withdrawal kicking in. Nicotine patches can be worn where they aren’t visible and they won’t interrupt your normal daily routine or mealtimes.
Chew it and park
A nicotine gum like Nicorette delivers nicotine more quickly to the brain than a patch and is a highly effective nicotine replacement therapy – provided you use it properly. The recommended method is to “chew and park”.
You shouldn’t keep chewing it like you would an ordinary piece of gum or the nicotine will be released into your saliva resulting in a nasty taste in the mouth and a craving for a cigarette.
Chew it a few times to break down the gum and then ‘park’ it between your cheek and gum and leave it there for around 30 minutes. Nicotine will be released slowly and make its way into your bloodstream through the blood vessels under the lining in your mouth.
Chewing nicotine gum in the wrong way is probably the main reason why this form of NRT fails for some people. Chew it right and it will work.
Nicotine lozenges are similar to a gum in their effect and in the way they are used. The lozenge should be allowed to dissolve in the mouth for about 20-30 minutes to enable the nicotine to get into the bloodstream in the same way as for gum.
All forms of NRT work if used correctly and they can all be successfully combined in a quit smoking program that suits you.
Top tips for quitting smoking
Launch yourself into an action plan in a way that suits you. Here’s some simple tips:
1. Make a commitment – The first and most important step you take on the road to being a non-smoker is to make a commitment to yourself to quit. Your commitment should be clear and determined – to quit smoking whatever it takes.
2. Write down your reasons for quitting – stick to positives, for example: “when I quit smoking my skin will look younger”; “when I quit smoking I will be better off financially”; “when I quit I will feel better” and so on.
3. Get support from other people – successful quitters get support from other people. Share your decision to quit smoking with someone who cares about you – your partner, a close friend or family member. This is very helpful – especially if the person you talk to has an interest in you giving up. If you talk to people who care whether you smoke or not and want you to stop you’ll have powerful allies in your battle against smoking – right from the word go.
4. Don’t listen to critics – be careful who you pick to help. Make sure you talk to someone who is capable of giving you positive encouragement as you deal with the ups and downs of quitting smoking. The last thing you want in your journey is a “back seat driver” constantly criticising or pointing out where you’ve gone wrong.
5. Remember you are a non-smoker now – how you speak about quitting reflects your intent – from the first day of stopping say ‘I have quit’ or I just quit smoking’ or ‘I don’t smoke’ not ‘I am trying to quit’ or ‘when I quit’ or even ‘hopefully I can quit’. Not smoking is not in the future it is NOW.
6. Send for reinforcements – when you feel yourself faltering remind yourself why you want to stop – re-read my article on skin aging or carry some pictures in your purse showing the effects of smoking on skin or teeth – or talk to one of your supporters.
7. Celebrate your achievement – every single day you are smoke free is a major step forward – celebrate it. Tell your supporters how you are doing – give yourself a treat after a week or a month – keep a diary record – post on facebook – mark the achievement somehow.
8. Keep a record – take note of how much better you look and feel – improvements in skin, hair, radiance should emerge quite quickly – notice them, take photos and share them.
9. Pamper your skin – now is the time to look after your skin like you never have before because you will see the improvement in your mirror and feel more positive about not smoking. Keep up a regular skin care regimen and don’t forget to boost your diet and get aerobic exercise to flood your capillaries with oxygen.
10. Ignore a relapse – if you fall off the wagon get straight back on – one cigarette is not the end of everything – move on with your program as if it hadn’t happened.
Quitting smoking successfully means combining a nicotine replacement aid (if you need one) with real intent to stop. Start now and you could be a non-smoker quicker than you think!