Posted on Aug 26, 2021, 3 p.m.
Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 12% of the world's smokers. Tobacco smoking leads to the spread of non-communicable illnesses and kills one million people in the area every year. So, if tobacco use is the leading cause of mortality, how can governments encourage their citizens to quit smoking? During the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned that people who smoke tobacco are more likely to have severe symptoms if they had COVID-19. It frightened several smokers. Smoking impairs lung function, making it more difficult for the body to fight this and other respiratory disorders.
Even outside of pandemics, smoking is hazardous to one's health and causes many deaths. Tobacco kills 8 million people per year, with one million of those deaths occurring in the Americas. In low- and middle-income nations, smoking kills more people than malaria, HIV, and TB combined. Moreover, we say "because of tobacco" because this statistic includes non-smokers: 1.2 million of the 8 million individuals who die each year are non-smokers who are exposed to smoke.
Tobacco smoking is the sole shared risk factor for the four most frequent non-communicable illnesses in the region, accounting for 80% of yearly deaths:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic bronchitis/chronic respiratory diseases
Furthermore, tobacco use causes comorbidities in smokers, such as hypertension, and smokers are 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Smokers live a decade less than non-smokers on average.
What is Tobacco?
Tobacco is a plant that originated in the Americas and is now grown all over the world. Its leaves are rich in nicotine, a highly addictive substance, and several cancer-causing compounds, including polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The leaves can be ingested, smoked, or rubbed to the gums. Nicotine is now extracted from the leaf to create new nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and Nicotine Replacement Therapies to treat tobacco addiction. Tobacco use and second-hand tobacco smoke connect to a variety of cancers and cardiac, lung, and other illnesses.
For more than 40 years, tobacco production shifted from developed to developing nations. Tobacco is a cash crop, but studies in several countries reveal that tobacco farmers are often in a debt cycle due to the tobacco industry tied with them. Furthermore, child labor also plays a critical role in the manufacturing of tobacco in many nations. Tobacco growing harms the environment as it depletes soil nutrients and frequently requires pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
What is Nicotine?
The question of what are nicotine salts comes to mind. Nicotine is a molecule found in cigarettes that works as an addictive substance. It's a psychoactive stimulant that makes you feel calmer and less stressed. Nicotine withdrawal produces irritation, restlessness, and concentration problems. Nicotine addiction risk comes from the dosage and mechanism of nicotine delivery to the brain. Nicotine, especially when eaten or absorbed via the skin, can be hazardous and even fatal in doses as low as 50-60 mg. Until the emergence of e-cigarettes, exposure to liquid nicotine was very uncommon. It can cause severe side effects if the consumption is not in proper quantities. The next question which everyone wants to know is what does nicotine taste like? According to a study published in PNAS, “The orosensory responses elicited by nicotine are relevant for the development and maintenance of addiction to tobacco products. However, although nicotine is described as bitter-tasting, the molecular and neural substrates encoding the taste of nicotine are unclear”. Nicotine salts are neutral to bitter in taste, everyone describes it their own way..
Some ways to stop tobacco consumption
1. Make a Smoking Cessation Plan
The first self-help suggestion for quitting smoking is to make a plan. Making a plan and adhering to it might assist and inspire certain people. If this is the case, you can take the following steps:
- Set a date for yourself to quit
- Make plans ahead of time to deal with cravings
- Decide on what you want to do with the money you've saved
- Begin to alter your behaviors, particularly those involving smoking
2. Maintaining a Healthy Diet after Quitting Smoking to Avoid Weight Gain
A significant percentage of smokers want to stop, but some are quitting because they fear gaining weight. It is, however, feasible to avoid or at least reduce the consequences of this. The key to success is to eat a well-balanced diet, which can help you in many ways.
3. Maintaining a healthy level of hydration
When you are trying to stop smoking, keeping track of what you consume might be helpful, just like what you eat. Staying hydrated is essential in general, but much more so while quitting smoking. While it is vital to drink enough water, some drinks should not come under consumables since they encourage people to smoke. It stands true for both coffee and alcohol. Because the lack of nicotine in your body might make you more worried or agitated than in typical times, the secret to quitting smoking is to avoid drinks that have an exhilarating impact. If you are a coffee drinker, try tea or any other hot beverage! It will aid in the relief of some of the negative symptoms of quitting smoking, such as migraines.
4. To Quit Smoking and Feel Less Stressed, Try Yoga or Meditation.
It might be hard to bid your bye to cigarettes, especially if you are naturally nervous. You may use yoga or mindfulness meditation to stop smoking while remaining stress-free. These techniques can assist you in de-stressing. Try the breathing exercises for the tech-savvy, which can help you quiet your mind and reduce stress!
5. Keep your mind occupied to avoid cravings
On average, someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes smoked for 1 hour and 20 minutes each day. When you stop smoking, you will have just as much free time as before to pick up a cigarette. A helpful key to quitting smoking is to keep your mind occupied to avoid boredom. To do so, make a box full of activities suggestions you may choose during your free time.
6. Keep your hands occupied to break the smoking habit
You may miss the sensation of holding a cigarette to your lips after quitting smoking. Another helpful key to quitting smoking is to keep your hands occupied. Particularly if you are craving tobacco. There are several alternatives available. Like:
- Peel an apple or crack nuts
- Take a licorice stick and chew it
- If you've decided to rely on your vaporizer as part of your withdrawal, use it.
Numerous studies demonstrate that tobacco has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable families, who have difficulties overcoming the ailments that come with it. However, the Pan American Health Organization reports that cigarette use is increasing among the poorest people. As a result, the United Nations advocates for a potent application of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in its 2030 Agenda (FCTC).
Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ system of the body, it is also the leading cause of preventable death, it is addicting and affects how you look and feel, your finances, and the people close to you.
The health benefits of quitting smoking are numerous and well worth it which include but are not limited to reducing the risks of developing cancer and other diseases, improved heart rate and blood pressure, improved circulation and lung function, reduction in risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease, taste buds repair making food taste better, sense of smell returns, teeth and fingernails stop yellowing, ordinary activities will leave you less out of breath, and you can save the money you would have been spending on smoking to go towards a trip, a car or some other reward.
It’s never too late to quit smoking, and you are well worth the benefits/rewards of doing so.
This article was written by Alexandra Doherty, blogger and health advocate.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
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