People usually reach for their cigarettes when they’re nervous, or anxious, or jittery. A quick jolt of nicotine can provide relief, albeit momentarily, from all the stresses of the world.
But quitting tobacco altogether is the best stress-reliever. Not only do you unburden yourself of all the potential health risks of smoking, but studies have shown that your mood also improves significantly.
Apart from your health and sense of well-being though, quitting smoking releases you and the people around you from a lot of burdens. Beyond just the personal impact that it imparts, smoking affects many different parts of society negatively.
Quitting, then, has a ripple effect. The ripple starts when you quit, and travels to far-flung places, like your workplace, public spaces; even the economy reacts to you stopping smoking. Here are seven ways that quitting smoking improves your life:
#7 Free Yourself
For a smoker, the world stops when they can’t light up. The addiction must be fed.
Wherever you are, no matter what you’re doing, everything changes so you can quiet the nicotine beast. Is that a pleasant feeling? Having your life controlled by a substance?
Quitting tobacco gives you back control over your life. There’ll be no more searching for an open shop, or kiosk or vending machine to buy cigarettes in the middle of the night. No more interrupting or changing your plans so you can find your favorite brand of smokes.
You’ll have the power to organize your time and life. You’ll be able to do things you haven’t done before. And you can live your life the way you want without having to consider how you’re going to survive five minutes without smoking.
#6 Clear the Air
If you are still a smoker, make everyone in your life happy and quit. You’ll not only be making them happier, but you could also go a long way to helping them live a longer life. The statistics regarding secondhand smoke are staggering.
34,000 premature deaths a year are attributable to secondhand smoke. These are all people who never smoked, but had the unfortunate luck of knowing someone who did. But they didn’t even have to know them.
All they needed to do was be exposed to the over 7,000 chemicals present in a cloud of passive smoke, to feel the detrimental effect. Knowing that you’re saving lives by putting down your pack of smokes can bring you at least some sense of relief.
Try to replace smoking with the healthier activities: working out, meditating and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Start with the substitutes like patches, nicotine gum or vapingdaily vape starter kit.
#5 Give Them a Break
Smokers in the workplace have had to move. The enactment of smoke-free workplace laws around the United States unexpectedly created the “smoke break.” So, not only was smoking indoors banned, but smokers had to take time out from work to do it.
And they get paid for it. Labor laws in the United States mandate that all employees receive paid break-time so essentially smokers, because they’re smokers, get extra money to puff away at work.
All employees benefit from paid breaks. But the mere fact that smokers can indulge in their self-destructive habit and receive compensation for it – especially when statistics show that smokers miss more work days, and work less overall – seems wholly unfair.
But, the statistics also show that workplace smoking bans play a pivotal role in not only helping employees quit smoking but in reducing your co-worker’s exposure to deadly secondhand smoke. So, in some ways, smoke breaks are right for everyone.
#4 Get More Work Done
Smoking creates its own universe, and at its center is the ever-burning cigarette. This unhealthy focus on your addiction can create numerous problems in all areas of your life. One of the more subtle, but insidious ways smoking can bring you down is how much your productivity is affected.
Smoking plays with your concentration as well as your time. An extensive analysis, which covered differences between smokers and non-smokers in the United States, the European Union, and China, overwhelming evidence that smokers work less.
The study put the cost of smoking on the US economy between $289 and $333 billion a year. These losses were all related to smoking-related sicknesses for both smokers and non-smokers in all three regions. Smoking, specifically secondhand smoke, also costs people who don’t smoke.
The same study put the figure at $6 billion lost each year in the US, just to secondhand smoke. These figures make real the sometimes intangible ways that smoking affects whole nations, and geographical regions.
It would be hard for anyone to fathom the billions of dollars being lost just because they took a smoke break. But that’s the truth.
#3 A Return to Normal
Nicotine is responsible for increasing levels of pleasure-inducing hormones, like dopamine. A sudden dopamine “high” is what makes nicotine and cigarettes so addictive.
Addiction makes people believe that the thing they are addicted to is the only thing that can make them happy. But, one thing people don’t understand about smoking is that it prevents you from feeling happy naturally.
Dopamine levels increase with the first puff of a cigarette. But they fall as fast. Years and years of smoking eventually inhibits dopamine production, so that you have to smoke to get any dopamine at all.
But scientists in Germany found that dopamine production levels return to normal after someone kicks the habit. Subjects who were smokers showed no difference in dopamine production levels when compared to the brains of non-smokers. But that was only after they quit.
So stop believing cigarettes are the only thing that can make you happy. It’s just them playing tricks on your mind.
#2 Make Yourself More Attractive
Attractiveness can mean a lot of things. Sure, there are people out there who find smoking sexy, and probably for all the reasons why it’s such a bad thing to do: it’s dangerous; it’s unconventional and flaunts authority.
But, here comes science again to ruin any and all wrongly-held notions about the supposed sexiness of smoking. A study out of England compared the faces of multiple sets of twins, one of whom was a smoker and the other who was not.
All the participants of the survey were able to guess correctly who was and who wasn’t the smoker. But, the majority of respondents also rated the face of the non-smoker as much more attractive than the face of the smoker.
And if we’re talking about how attractive you are to a future employer, smoking brings you down in that respect as well. Smokers have a harder time (a 24% harder time) finding work than their non-smoking colleagues, who have a 30% higher chance of getting hired.
And for all of you thinking about turning to e-cigarettes, the jury is still out on whether even having the best vape makes you attractive. Stay tuned.
We’ve come full circle. The first tip was about freeing yourself from your addiction, mostly because dependencies are hard to maintain.
Cigarettes have alternatives, luckily. You can still manage your addiction with nicotine patches or use other means, like a vape pen starter kit. When addictions aren’t maintained, they cause you problems and stress, which only propagates the cycle of addiction. Smoking hurts more than just the smoker, we’ve covered that as well.
But getting back to you, smoking is causing you more unhappiness than happiness and quitting is a bona fide way to bring some measure of contentment into your life.
One study found that smokers who quit and stay quit reported being much happier than their counterparts who quit at the same time but gave in to their cravings after two weeks. And when they did fall back into nicotine addiction, they reported being more depressed, even though they went back to their old habit, supposedly the thing that gave them pleasure in the first place.
It goes to show that the thing you think is helping you, is hurting you. Cigarettes, just like any other addictive substance, are a crutch. And the one way to stop it from hurting you and the people around you is to give it up.
About the Author: Phyllis Baker is the journalist blogger specializing in health, self-development and addiction treatment. She manages public relations for the quitting smoking community.