World No Tobacco Day: Want to quit smoking? Here`s how

Ritu Singh/Shruti Saxena

How does it feel to hold that white stick between your index finger and the middle finger and carelessly let out smoke in myriad directions? Well, it may appear to be a pleasurable pursuit, as Oscar Wilde had proclaimed: “You must have a cigarette. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”

However, if you go by Oscar Wilde’s theory, then sorry to say, your life is doomed. Because literature and cinema might be the gateway to fantasies and exquisite daydreams, but most of it remains in the pages and reels and not in the rug of real life.

Each year May 31 is observed as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) with the aim to spread awareness about the ills of tobacco consumption, but do we actually understand its importance? Many smokers pledge to quit smoking on this day and forget it just the next day?

A look at the stark reality: The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. Approximately 5.5 million people die around the world every year - with India accounting for nearly a fifth of this. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) - India 2010, tobacco use is a major preventable cause of death and disease and is responsible 1 in 10 deaths among adults worldwide.

According to Shekhar Salkar, general secretary of National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE)-India, "Everyday, almost 2,500 people die in India due to consumption of tobacco and smoking. Many people even suffer from asthma and bronchitis, other than cancer and heart attacks."

Shocked? There’s more to add to the nasty picture.

According to experts, the age of onset of experiment with cigarettes or other form of tobacco worryingly has fallen to a startling 11-12 years.

This is so because for these curious youngsters, cigarettes seem to be the easiest and cheapest way to combat life’s pressures, be it exam stress, relationship issues, peer pressure or family matters. And the tobacco companies take advantage of the young mind’s vulnerable situation. Later these youngsters develop into lifelong addicts and their life remains forever enveloped in the thick fog of smoke.

So, if you are a smoker and you are reading this, it’s high time you let go of this addiction.

Tips to quit smoking-

Be positive: One should always have a positive approach towards quitting, think of all the after-effects and advantages when you quit smoking. You will smell better, will enjoy and taste your food more and cough less. Also, becoming smoke free, one also ends up saving a considerable amount of money.

Get support from others: Garner support from your family and friends. Tell them about your quitting plans and seek their encouragement to help you stop. You can also help another buddy of yours to quit and in this positive process you yourself will head towards a healthier tomorrow.

Avoid the sight of cigarettes: The motive is to transform how you think and what you do, to reduce or eliminate your exposure to the things, people and situations that make you want to smoke. Try to avoid the company of people who smoke so that the craving does not come crawling back to you.If you have already given up this deadly habit, but still can’t completely get over your sordid break-up with cigarette, following is what you can do.

One week after you quit: Tips to prevent relapse

Remain active: The idea is to keep yourself distracted and occupied whenever that demon called ‘smoking’ tries to lure you. Go for walks, listen to music, talk to your friends or spend time with children. If all these does not work for you then sleep over it.

Keep yourself busy: Try squeezing stress balls, playing with an elastic band, a paper clip or indulge yourself in work or some puzzles, games etc. to satisfy that need for stimulation. One can also try reading a book or magazine, indulge in cooking. You can also pamper your pets.

Switch to oral substitutes: Whenever you’re craving for a cigarette, keep other things like mints, hard candy, carrot or celery sticks, gum and sunflower seeds around you as these are healthy alternatives. Brush your teeth several times a day because toothpaste makes cigarettes taste bad.

Drink lots of water: Try drinking a glass of chilled water as it flushes toxins from your body and minimises withdrawal symptoms and helps cravings pass faster.

Most importantly, no article, encouragement or advice can work for you if you yourself don’t align with the thought that it is time to say goodbye to cigarettes. Only you can help yourself. And if not, the choice is yours: either feed your lungs with healthy air or dissolve like smoke in thin air!

It’s never too late to start, and however tough it might seem, you know you can. So do it today!

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”