When you think about it, apart from humans, no other species on this planet enjoys smoking or takes part in smoking. Why? Perhaps because it is something that other species consider unnatural or simply repelling. Humans have engaged in smoking for thousands of years and the habit does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon. In fact, there are many brands of cigarettes and cigars that are considered more luxurious than others. They also come in a variety of flavors that smokers can choose from.
Smoking began as early as 5000 BC and was initially used as part of rituals observed by various civilizations such as the Chinese and Indians. Babylonians and Israelites also incorporated smoking in their rituals, as did Orthodox Christian churches and Catholics.
Smoking was soon perceived as a social tool and a variety of hallucinogenic substances were popularly smoked. Cannabis was amongst the first drugs to be smoked and was very popular in the Middle East as early as 2000BC.
A brief look at the history of tobacco shows that humans were first exposed to it about 18, 000 years ago. The plant’s cultivation and practice of smoking it provided a kind of physiological stimulation that was long sought after. Apart from the social aspect of smoking it, tobacco has been widely celebrated for its medicinal uses. In the early days, it was powdered for inhalation, toasted, dried or chewed. Somewhere along the way, indigenous people learned how to smoke it.
Tobacco has become so popular that throughout the years, it has become a great source of income for some countries. Virginia is an example of a region that relied on export of tobacco rather than gold mining. Once smoking of tobacco was introduced in Europe in the 1500s, it became so widely used that it became associated with other products such as alcohol.
It wasn’t long before people discovered that smoking was a significant source of making money and a machine that was to be used for mass production was invented in the 1800s. The machine was used to speed up the process of making the cigarettes. From this, the number of people who smoked in the USA increased significantly in the early 1900s.
Soon after its increased popularity, people began to realize that the number of people being diagnosed with lung cancer also increased. It is at this time that people associated lung cancer with smoking. In fact, some physicians in 1798 claimed that the use of tobacco was dangerous to our health but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that researchers began to conduct more serious medical studies.
Up to the early 2000s, more and more people became aware of the significant risks associated with tobacco smoking. As a result, the number of people who smoked began to decline. From 1960 to early 2000s, the number of people who smoked reduced to 20% from 40%. Unfortunately, the number has slowly begun to increase.
Fast track to 2012 and smoking has taken on an entirely different form. One alternative that seems to stand out is the electronic cigarette. This cigarette was specifically made for the population that was health conscious. Manufacturers of these devices manufactured the electronic cigarette with the sole purpose of providing users a way of smoking without worrying about their health.
It comes as no surprise that the e-cigarette has become very popular. Users can still enjoy the benefits of smoking without the fear of cancerous toxins polluting their lungs. Unlike traditional cigarettes, smokers inhale vapor rather than smoke.
Now that the electronic cigarette has been introduced, some of the health issues associated with tobacco smoking have been removed. Smoking is evolving and with time, a newer and better device than the e-cigarette may just be invented. If the e-cigarette gets approved by the MHRA, then you can be assured that this will have a big impact on the population that smokes tobacco. This is because they can still get the simulation of smoking with fewer health issues.
What’s the most common mistake people make when trying to quit smoking? Callers to a “quitline” will know before they quit that it’s a bad idea to stop taking the medicine too quickly. People who give up cigarettes on their own are more likely to learn the hard way. Free telephone quitlines are emerging as a better way to stop smoking. They give smokers twice the chance of kicking the habit.
Trained counselors answer the calls and help each person plan a unique quitting strategy around his or her smoking habits and personal concerns. The counselors send printed materials that fit the smoker’s stage in the process. Some of the quitlines schedule more counseling sessions too, for key days after a smoker quits. Unlike many cessation programs, a quitline is not one-size-fits-all—its’ more like having your own dressmaker.
“Quitting is a really hard thing to do. We give people the tools to stay smoke-free,” explained Angela Geiger, director of 10 state quitlines run by the American Cancer Society. In all, 33 state quitlines are up and running, and smokers can get help finding one in their area by calling ACS at 1-800-ACS-2345.
Quitlines offer tremendous convenience and flexibility. Smokers don’t have to leave home, find transportation, or arrange childcare. They can schedule counseling sessions at night and on weekends and the services are free. In South Dakota, the medicine is free too.
Combining Medicines and Behavior Changes A combination of medicine, changing daily habits, and emotional support is recommended for many quitters. The medicines include nicotine substitutes delivered by skin patches, gum, a nasal spray or inhaler, and buproprion (Zyban), a pill that helps ease nicotine cravings. Unfortunately, some people get the mistaken idea that stop-smoking medicines are harmful.
“The number one mistake with medication is that people don’t use enough. They don’t chew enough gum; they only use it for two weeks. They think it’s bad to keep putting the nicotine replacement products in their bodies, and then they relapse into smoking, which is much worse,” said Geiger.
In reality, Geiger says, “It’s not the nicotine that is so bad for you. It’s all the other chemicals people inhale when smoking cigarettes.” Nicotine replacement therapy also delivers a lower dose of nicotine than cigarettes–just enough to ease withdrawal symptoms so smokers can focus on changing their behavior.
Telephone counseling appeals to people of all ages and smoking habits. Geiger says people even call from the hospital: “I’m going in for surgery and I need to quit smoking.”
Callers between 18 to 25 years old worry about the smell, cost, and evil intentions of the tobacco companies. The average age of callers is in the mid-40s, when people no longer feel invincible. “People start having significant life events. Their parents get cancer. A friend keels over from a heart attack,” Geiger explained.
When Quitters Relapse
It often takes more than one attempt for people to quit for good, so the telephone counselors turn a relapse into a learning experience. When and where did it happen? For one woman having a beer in a bar weakened her resolve. “Should they try to quit again? Absolutely,” says Geiger. “Even if this attempt isn’t successful, they’ll learn something. We’ll set another date 2 or 3 months out.”
People who relapse are advised to review their reasons for wanting to quit and to make a better plan for next time around. The goal is for smokers to find their own support system and techniques.
While quitlines have double the success of other cessation programs, the number of successful quitters is still small. A recent study showed that after one month, 21% of people who were counseled through the California Smokers’ Helpline were not smoking, compared with 10% of a group that did not receive counseling. After a year the success rate for counseling dropped to 8%. These results from one quit attempt are typical for addiction programs but don’t show the big picture.
Almost a quarter of US adults–46 million people–are former smokers. Perhaps their parents drummed an old motto into their heads at an impressionable age: “If you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Quitline callers learn it’s well worth trying again.