It’s a well-known, widely accepted and statistically-proven fact that smoking is bad for you. It can cause high blood pressure, asthma, emphysema, coronary thrombosis, rapidly ages your skin, and can cause various types of cancer.
In the UK, smoking causes more than 100,000 deaths each year and has the long-term effect of causing many more. On average, one cigarette shortens a smoker’s life by about 11 minutes and smoking can reduce the average life expectancy by approximately seven to eight years.
Around 300 smokers in the UK die every day – and the worrying fact is that an increasing number of those are relatively young smokers. To put it into perspective, the number of people under 70 who die from smoking-related illnesses exceeds the COMBINED total of deaths caused by traffic accidents, drug addiction, AIDS and breast cancer.
If you don’t smoke or if you’re an ex-smoker then you can probably look forward to a healthy old age – but what about those that do smoke?
You can have your five-a-day and eat as healthily as you want, but it all counts for nothing if you carry on puffing those packets of Benson and Hedges.
Smokers have different reasons for lighting up – and here are some of the most common types of smokers, along with the reasons for the one thing they should ALL do – quit.
The heavy smoker is someone with a rather intense predilection for puffing on those nicotine sticks. They’ve smoked for a long time and to such an extent that lighting up has become an essential, unavoidable component of their daily existence and routine. In fact, at this point it’s such an entrenched part of their lives they don’t know how they’d be able to cope without cigarettes.
Smoking puts them in a comfort zone and is second nature, and in order to give up they need to make some serious lifestyle changes – although they need to take things slowly and recondition their behaviours to cope with the physical and emotional ramifications of quitting.
This category of smoker has attempted to quit lots of times, to no avail. They find that smoking happens in waves and they don’t really think they’ve got a problem. It’s the smoker’s equivalent to binge drinking and causes the same, if not more, damage to the body as it pumps the heart and lungs with massive hits of nicotine in a short period.
Exercise is a good displacement activity, as well as nicotine replacements and prescribed alternatives which gradually diminishes the enjoyment factor of smoking.
As the moniker suggests, this type of smoker only lights up in social situations. And because they’re not a regular smoker they don’t believe the general smoking rules and warnings apply to them, and can light up a Lambert whenever they like.
It’s easy to become a social smoker but more of a problem to quit. By identifying the catalysts for smoking – such as social anxiety, insecurity or peer pressure – they can start to break their social habit. Patches, gum and inhalers work and are particularly effective at helping the social smoker to quit.
Generally smoking less than five cigarettes a day, the light smoker thinks their addiction is under control. They also tend to smoke at more specific, designated times and don’t often give much consideration to ‘wanting’ a cigarette to satisfy any particular nicotine craving.
Identifying what triggers and perpetuates the need to smoke is key (boredom, anxiety, stress, apathy), as is finding suitable displacement activities and therapeutic distractions to help them kick the habit. For example, replacing lighting up by eating small snacks of fruit and veg or having a cigarette substitute such as a pen are particularly effective ways for light smokers to stop completely.