Family Encyclopedia >> Health

Is it possible to quit smoking easily?

The end of the year is approaching, and with it, the time for good resolutions. Also, many people make the decision to quit smoking after New Year's Eve. While this is one of the best decisions you can make to improve and maintain your health, it must be recognized that quitting smoking overnight is far from easy. Anyone currently attempting "Tobacco-Free Month" probably wouldn't say otherwise. Fortunately, solutions exist to quit smoking without (too) much difficulty.

This wise decision can be motivated by various reasons:the feeling of being easily out of breath, the loss of flavor in food, the smell of tobacco that constantly impregnates clothes, hair and housing, the prospect of having a child, the budget — because if some packages have recently fallen below the symbolic bar of 10 euros, prices remain high on average — or quite simply, the desire to regain control of one's health. The pandemic has also raised awareness:smoking degrades lung health, it can potentially aggravate the symptoms of COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization, each year more than 8 million people around the world die from smoking; almost 1.2 million of these deaths are due to passive smoking. In France, tobacco is responsible for one in eight deaths; it is the leading cause of preventable death, cancer death and death before age 65. The fight against tobacco is today a public health priority. Most smokers would like to quit, but the WHO points out that without help with quitting, only 4% of attempts are successful.

A scourge responsible for one in three cancers

On average, one in two regular smokers dies from smoking. Tobacco consumption is in fact the cause of many diseases, starting with lung cancer, of which 80 to 90% of cases are linked to active smoking. But many other cancers (one in three cases!) are caused by smoking:throat, mouth, lips, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, uterus, esophagus. But that's not all:smoking significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also mainly due to tobacco.

Apart from the cardiorespiratory sphere, smoking can also aggravate other diseases (diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, eczema, cataracts, dental problems, etc.) and lead to various disorders such as an alteration of the epidermis, bad breath, vitamin B and C deficiencies, decreased fertility, etc. All of these adverse health effects are due to the thousands of chemical compounds in tobacco, most of which are toxic:gases (acetaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrocyanic acid, ammonia, etc.) , but also heavy metals (cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury) and tars, among others.

In addition, several studies have shown that tobacco consumption is associated with an increased long-term risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. As for the possible protective effect of nicotine against COVID-19 - an idea that suddenly spread during the summer of 2020 - Public Health France recalls that to date no causal link can be established; one of the studies behind this theory, published in July 2020 in The European Respiratory Journal , was withdrawn due to conflicts of interest with the tobacco industry.

In summary, it is high time to quit smoking, whatever your level of consumption:there is no threshold below which smoking is without risk.

The e-cigarette, an interesting weaning tool

The effects of withdrawal, due to the lack of nicotine, can be very unpleasant:nervousness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, increased appetite, etc. But you should know that after a month of stopping, withdrawal symptoms are considerably reduced and the chances of relapse are reduced. Hence the "Month without tobacco" initiative, a national challenge initiated in 2016 by the Ministry of Health, repeated each year in November, which consists of encouraging smokers to quit this bad habit. The operation offers weaning support, including a consultation with a professional, a quitting “kit” including daily challenges and advice and even a tool to calculate the savings made!

If this approach seems too brutal and scares you, you can opt for the electronic cigarette, “an interesting tool when considering quitting smoking “, according to Pr Sébastien Couraud, pulmonologist at Lyon Sud Hospital. The specialist advises to gradually reduce the dose of nicotine used, until completely stopping the electronic cigarette (so as not to maintain a form of gestural dependence).

Unlike the classic cigarette, the electronic cigarette does not work by combustion; the flavored liquid is heated and turns into an aerosol. Thus, its use does not release the very toxic substances released by a lit cigarette, such as carbon monoxide or tars. This is why, by vaping, the risk of developing serious diseases decreases. So much so that the UK Department of Health recently announced that it is inviting e-cigarette makers to submit their products for health regulatory approval, just like any other drug. The United Kingdom could thus become the first country to prescribe the electronic cigarette as a medical device.

Nevertheless, since the vaper has only been around for a decade, studies are underway to assess whether the chemicals inhaled by vaping — which vary according to the composition of the liquid and the type of vaper — may or may not present risks to long-term health.