WRPA top banner
Western Reserve Psychological Associates, Inc.Empowering change for over 40 years
> return to archived articles >

Archived Article

Smoking-How About Quitting?

The holidays are upon us, and soon it will be time for New Year's Resolutions! This year, how about a life-changing resolution, one that will have a major impact on yourself and all those around you? Let's quit smoking! This month's column is about smoking, and its intent is to help motivate you to quit.

Some Facts About Smoking

  1. Smoking in the United States causes more premature deaths than cocaine, heroin, alcohol, fire, auto accidents, homicide and suicide combined.
  2. Smoking is responsible for more deaths of Americans than all the wars ever fought by this country.
  3. Most smokers began smoking before age 20. More current smokers than successful quitters began smoking before age 18, suggesting that the earlier one began smoking, the harder it is to quit. However, these differences are not great.
  4. Of former smokers (successful quitters) about 70% quit after 1 or 2 attempts, about 20% quit after 3-5 attempts, and about 10% tried 6 or more times before succeeding. Persistence pays!

Smoking and Health

  1. Smokers have 800% higher rate of death from lung cancer than non-smokers.
  2. Smokers have 1000% higher rate of death from emphysema than non-smokers.
  3. Smokers have twice the rate of death from heart disease than non-smokers.
  4. Smokers have increased incidence of brain damage from stroke, multi-infarct dementia and "senility" due to anoxia.
  5. Smokers have 110% higher rate of other cancers (stomach, spleen, larynx,liver) than non-smokers.
  6. Smokers have higher rates of serious complications in all diseases involving problems with circulation Reynaud's Disease, Diabetes, burns, poisoning and asphyxiation, gangrene, etc. Smoking diabetics have 800% higher rate of complications.
  7. Smokers impose health hazards on those around them; the (non-smoking) children of smoking mothers have twice the over-all illness rate of the children of non-smoking mothers; non-smoking spouses have 25% increased risk of lung cancer.
  8. Careless cigarette smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires in home, workplace and forest.
  9. Smoking far outweighs industrial pollution as a cause of disease; and the bad effects of both add up together.
  10. Smoker's superficial wounds heal more slowly and are more frequently infected than those of non-smokers.
  11. Many accidents are attributable to smoking (flammables and explosives, inattention and fumbling for a smoke or light, falling asleep or dizziness due to lowered oxygen levels secondary to monoxide poisoning and/or blood vessel constriction, ashes or coals causing pain, etc.).
  12. Death due to lack of stamina (drowning, freezing and exposure, etc.) occurs more often in smokers than non-smokers.
  13. Infant mortality is much higher in offspring of smoking than non-smoking mothers. Pregnant women should not smoke.
  14. Birth weight of children of smoking mothers is less than that of children of non- smoking mothers.
  15. Smokers lose their teeth more frequently than non-smokers due to increased periodontal disease.
  16. Smokers have impaired sense of smell and taste compared to non-smokers.
  17. Two thirds of impotent men are smokers. This is twice the rate in the general population. The cause is probably poor penile blood circulation which has been found in 25% of male smokers.
  18. Sperm count and motility are reduced in smoking men.
  19. Women smokers are three times more likely to be infertile than non-smoking women, and their average age at menopause is almost two years younger.

Smoking & Appearance

  1. Women smokers, when age is estimated by appearance in controlled studies, are judged to be 8 to 10 years older than their non-smoking counterparts.
  2. Incidence of baldness in men is three times as high in smokers than in non- smokers. (Both 1 and 2 are due to impaired peripheral circulation, causing increased wrinkling and hair loss.)
  3. Persons who quit smoking experience an average initial weight gain of five pounds, which tend to be lost again during the first year. However, in order to produce as much harm to overall health as continuation of smoking would cause, these persons would have to gain over 80 pounds.
  4. Smokers:
    1. smell bad
    2. are unpleasant to kiss
    3. frequently burn clothes and furniture
    4. have duller hair
    5. have more dandruff
    6. often develop stained hands and fingers
    7. almost always have stained teeth


Get into a smoking cessation program; it is harder to do on your own. The following are ways smokers have actually used in retraining themselves to live without cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Anyone or several of these methods in combination might be helpful to you.

  1. Concern yourself with today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
  2. It is not that you will never be able to smoke again, but that you do not want to smoke today.
  3. Telephone an ex-smoking friend when you have a desire to smoke.
  4. There is no such thing as just smoking one cigarette.
  5. Do not have cigarettes, matches or lighters on your person today.
  6. Put away all your ashtrays.
  7. When you crave a smoke, take frequent deep breaths with long exhales.
  8. Instead of gesturing with cigarette in hand while you talk, substitute a pencil.
  9. Keep your hands occupied.
  10. When you feel irritable or tense, talk it over with someone.
  11. 11. Take warm showers to calm nerves.
  12. 12. Change your behavior; walk or exercise instead of smoking, especially after meals.
  13. If you smoke during breaks, plan another activity -- reading, puzzles, knitting, walking.
  14. Try quitting with a friend. You can encourage each other.
  15. Reward yourself with small and frequent luxuries throughout the day. Use the money you save by not smoking.
  16. Notify your family, friends, and co-workers that you are quitting so you cannot bum cigarettes from them.
  17. Avoid friends who smoke and places like bars or coffee shops where many people will be smoking.
  18. Avoid caffeine containing beverages such as coffee, tea, and colas. Substitute fruit juice or water.
  19. Frequent places where you can't smoke -- libraries, theaters, swimming pools, department stores, public meetings in public buildings.
  20. If you substitute snacks for cigarettes, reach for low calorie foods.
  21. Chew sugarless gums or mints.
  22. Chew bits of fresh ginger when you want to reach for a cigarette.
  23. On a piece of paper, make two columns. List why you want to stop smoking in one column, why you want to continue in another column. Compare them.
  24. Keep busy, volunteer your services to schools or non-profit organizations where you can't smoke.
  25. Drink plenty of liquids to flush the poisonous nicotine out of your body.
  26. A brisk walk will help get rid of the carbon monoxide left over from your last cigarette.
  27. A plastic cigarette or toothpick may prove a good oral substitute.
  28. Wear a lung association "Thank you for not smoking" button to let everyone know you enjoy smoke-free air.
  29. Ask for assistance from a higher power.
  30. Call your lung association for help.
  31. Join a stop smoking clinic group.
  32. Eat properly to keep your nutrition up.
  33. Only one-third of the people who stop smoking gain weight. Don't worry about weight gain now. Tackle one problem at a time.
  34. Think positively and choose to stop smoking.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache and muscle aches
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance or upset
  • Sleep disturbance (frequent awakenings)
  • Impatience
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Slowed metabolism

Most of these disappear 2-4 weeks after quitting.

Now that you know a bit more about smoking, isn't it time you quit! Have a happy, healthy New Year.

John Lowenfeld, Ph.D., ABPP
Clinical Psychologist

> return to archived articles >