Community Living

October 29, 2012

Smoking: A Deadly Exercise

— “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.” Even though walking is exercise preferred by many, this particular exercise could be deadly.  This slogan came from a popular commercial which hit the television airwaves years ago, during a time when smoking was seen as fashionable and mainstream.  Other cigarette commercials with catchy tunes included The Marlboro Man and Pall Mall.  There was actually a commercial sign with Santa Claus smoking a Lucky Strike cigarette.  In those days people would indeed walk a mile for a Camel because it presented them as socially acceptable.  Nowadays, this walk is regarded as deadly.  

While many refer to it as merely a “bad habit”, smoking is a serious addictive problem.  In past reports, the U.S. Surgeon General has declared nicotine to be more physically addictive than cocaine and heroin.  Some studies indicate that more than 6,000 Oklahoma adults die each year as a result of tobacco use.  But it’s much more than an adult problem.  One report indicates that an estimated 87,000 youths in Oklahoma, now under the age of 18, will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.  Smoking is the leading cause of death from cancer of the lungs, pancreas, kidney, bladder, mouth, throat and esophagus.  As a result of smoking, almost as many people die from chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema as from lung cancer.  Smoking is a serious problem which affects not only the smoker, but those who share their environment.

Most smokers want to quit but find it difficult.  Many have concluded stopping to be impossible.  Of those who smoke, 2 out of 3 are seriously considering quitting.  Furthermore 3 out of 5 Oklahoma adults have made a serious attempt to quit.  Many just do not know how to quit, nor do they understand why it is so difficult.  

The addictive nature of nicotine is the culprit.  Nicotine binds to certain receptors of the brain which causes a release of dopamine in the “pleasure center” of the brain.  The induced feelings of positive reward create an enhanced mood and feelings of intense pleasure.  Smoking inevitably will become a part of the daily routine: after morning coffee, an alcoholic drink and end of a meal.  It becomes the primary coping mechanism for many smokers, assisting with the management of anger, stress and anxiety.  

For a smoker to discontinue, new coping skills and changes in the daily routine must be employed.  When used in combination, counseling strategies and pharmacotherapy (such as nicotine patches, inhalers and gum) are effective in the cessation of smoking.  Of course, the most important factor involves will-power, the intangible force of the human mind.  Cravings are strong.  The smoker who is determined to quit will make extra effort to regain power over what seemed was a powerless situation.  Thinking patterns must change and healthier forms of pleasure must be intentionally engaged.  

Benefits of quitting smoking are many.  Besides improvement in the general feelings of well-being, smoking cessation presents many more advantages.  There is an improvement in circulation, acceleration of cold/flu recovery and decrease of respiratory problems.  Studies show that after five years of abstinence, the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke becomes the same as a non-smoker.   

Consider the laws of nature when looking at the rationale of smoking cessation.  Fish for example have special membranes to extract essential oxygen from the water.  When forced out of the water and into oxygen-rich air, they die.  Many animals have natural habitats in which they thrive.  When removed from this environment, they perish.  Humans are much the same.  Our lungs are intended to breathe clean, fresh air providing the body with the oxygen needed to survive.  When replaced with smoke of any kind, problems will increase leading to ill-health and inevitable death.  

The Light says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23 NIV).  In other words, take special care of the heart from which life is generated.  Our body is nothing more or less than the house in which we live in.  Once it deteriorates, it’s gone forever.  The dependence on smoking can be overcome.  With proper treatment and unwavering will-power, this addiction can be defeated.  If you would like more information, call 1-800-QUITNOW.  

Above all, let The Light guide you.



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