Thanks to scientific advances over the last several decades, we human beings are able to lead healthier lives than ever before. We know how important it is to exercise regularly. We know which foods are the best for our bodies. And we certainly know one habit that we shouldn't pick up, because it's unhealthy and can even be deadly.
What are we talking about? Smoking, of course! Have you ever read the warning labels on a pack of cigarettes? Laws now require cigarette packages to contain warnings about the many bad side effects that can be experienced as a result of smoking.
If you look around you, though, you still see people smoking cigarettes. In many areas, it's no longer lawful for people to smoke cigarettes in restaurants and other public places. These laws help protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
If you stand in line at a convenience store, you're also likely to see several people purchase packs of cigarettes. Although the number of people who smoke is on the decline, there are still millions of people around the world who smoke cigarettes, despite the obvious health risks. Why do they do that?
One of the main reasons people still smoke today is that they started smoking in the first place. People start smoking for many reasons: advertisements, peer pressure, etc. And as most smokers already know, once you start smoking, it can be very, very hard to stop.
The fact that smoking is dangerous to your health is well-known today. Smoking has been linked to an increased likelihood to develop cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Some studies show that smoking can decrease your lifespan by a decade or more. Smoking can also be a huge financial burden, costing thousands of dollars per year.
So why do people continue to smoke despite these negative effects? The answer is addiction. One of the primary ingredients of cigarette tobacco is nicotine, which is highly addictive. Like many addictive illegal drugs, nicotine makes a smoker continue to crave cigarettes if they try to stop smoking.
Even smokers who are highly-motivated to stop smoking can have a difficult time kicking the habit. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can make a smoker feel sick and lead to continuing to smoke despite a desire to quit.
The best way to quit smoking is never to start in the first place! Of course, that advice only helps those who have never smoked before or tried cigarettes. For those who have smoked for some time, it is possible to quit, but it can be a tougher battle than many people realize.
There are many products and strategies available today to help smokers kick the habit. For example, nicotine gum and patches can be used to slowly wean smokers off of the addictive substance.
Many smokers, however, find that quitting “cold turkey" is the only way to go. That means that they simply stop smoking cigarettes one day and never smoke again. For people who try to quit smoking in this way, it is often helpful to rely on support groups, such as family, friends, or local groups of former smokers.
If you have someone in your life who smokes, you can help them quit by providing the support and encouragement they need. The first few days are always the hardest, and relapses are common. But, with support, many people are able to break the bonds of nicotine addiction to become smoke-free. When they do, they feel better and can begin to reverse some of the damage done by smoking.