Humans have been smoking either tobacco or hallucinogenic drugs for 7000 years. Which explains why we find it difficult to stop smoking. Our ancient ancestors used to summon spirits while sitting around a campfire smoking mind-bending drugs. Others used tobacco for its medicinal qualities which is extremely ironic.
Smoking arrived in Europe in the 16th century. The first smoker in the UK was a sailor in Brighton who puffed smoke out through his nose. Despite its reputation for healing many were suspicious about the health benefits of smoking and wanted to ban it. The popularity of smoking increased regardless of the known danger to our health.
By the 1920’s German scientists noted a link between lung cancer and smoking. This revelation didn’t stop us from puffing our way through two world wars, featuring smoking in films and a resurgence of popularity in the 90’s. In 2002 the British Government banned tobacco advertising and smoking in public places in 2007. Cigarette packaging has changed to warn about the dangers of smoking. Cigarettes are only available in packs of twenty and cost a fortune.
These measures have helped a large number of people to stop smoking but there are still people who find it difficult to quit. There are many avenues of support to help people to stop smoking.
Most people start smoking in their teen years because it is cool and rebellious. Our great-grandparents' generation started even younger. The Office For National Statistics reported that 7.6 million people smoked in the UK in 2016. It also states that the number of smokers has reduced considerably since 1974.
A typical smoker is likely to reside in Northern Ireland, aged 24 - 34 and male, low income and have health issues. Men smoke slightly more than women and Scotland reports the greatest decline in smokers. Young adults aged 18 -24 and older adults in their sixties are less likely to smoke than 34-year-olds. Smokers are more likely to be living in poverty and missed out on higher education.
Smoking is a toxic hobby which leads to serious health conditions. This has a major economic impact on the individual and the healthcare system. Conditions like COPD and cardiovascular disease prevent people from working and require hospital treatment.
Young children come to the conclusion that inhaling 75 different toxic chemicals into your lungs is a really bad idea. We all know the dangers of smoking and some of us will have seen a family member succumb to its ill effects. Public places and local pubs push smokers out in the rain and cigarette prices keep on rising but people still smoke.
People start smoking for a variety of reasons including; peer pressure, familiar smells, stress relief and self-medication. Some people don’t find the stomach churning packaging, cost and surreptitious nature of buying cigarettes off-putting. Most new smokers cough and find their first inhalation awful in yet they persist in becoming better smokers.
Nicotine is very addictive and alters the chemical composition of the brain. This alone is enough to keep smokers coming back for more. Rebellion also plays a part because ignoring health warnings is an act of free will. Some people just gain comfort and relaxation from smoking which makes them feel better in the short term.
Years ago adverts and cigarette cards encouraged people to smoke. Some companies even gave necklaces away after people collected a significant number of cards. Films made smoking cool, rebellious, sophisticated, healthy and desirable. This brainwashing seems to carry through the generations making it difficult for people to stop smoking.
The decision to stop smoking is very difficult. Most people stop smoking and start again a number of times before they give up for good. There is a lot of support to help people to give up smoking. People have to want to quit in order for any stop smoking method to work.
Willpower and determination help people to stop smoking. Some people choose to go cold turkey where they give up smoking without any chemical help. Others use nicotine replacement patches, gum, sprays or tablets. This helps them to gradually wean themselves off nicotine.
Phone apps and support groups help people to see the financial benefits of quitting and talk through their withdrawal. E-cigarettes and Vaping help people to give up nicotine and continue the same physical habits of smoking.
There are concerns that vaping is dangerous and unhealthy. If you comparing vaping to not smoking it is unhealthy. Vaping is healthier than smoking and the NHS intends to make it available on prescription.
Going cold turkey is the safest way to stop smoking if taking nicotine replacements concern you. Realistically any stop smoking method is safer than inhaling lots of toxic chemicals. Your doctor or stop smoking clinic will help you find the safest way for you.