A Good Time to Quit Great American Smokeout Encourages People to Kick the Habit

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is held on the third Thursday in November each year. Smokers are encouraged to use the date (this year, it’s Nov. 16) to take an important step toward a healthier life by making a plan to quit, or by planning in advance and quitting smoking that day.
Most smokers start when they’re teenagers. Those who have friends and/or parents who smoke are more likely to start smoking than those who don’t. Some teens say that they “just wanted to try it,” or they thought it was “cool” to smoke.
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry spends billions of dollars each year to create and market ads that show smoking as exciting, glamorous, and safe. Tobacco use is also shown in video games, online, and on TV. And movies showing smokers are another big influence. Studies show that young people who see smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking.
A newer influence on tobacco use is the e-cigarette and other high-tech, fashionable electronic ‘vaping’ devices. Often seen as harmless, and easier to get and use than traditional tobacco products, these devices are a way for new users to learn how to inhale and become addicted to nicotine, which can prepare them for smoking.
Anyone who starts using tobacco can become addicted to nicotine. Studies show that smoking is most likely to become a habit during the teen years. The younger you are when you begin to smoke, the more likely you are to become addicted to nicotine.
Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco smoke are easily absorbed into the blood through the lungs. From there, nicotine quickly spreads throughout the body. When taken in small amounts, nicotine causes pleasant feelings and distracts the user from unpleasant feelings. This makes the tobacco user want to use more. It acts on the chemistry of the brain and central nervous system, affecting the smoker’s mood. Nicotine works very much like other addicting drugs, by flooding the brain’s reward circuits with a chemical called dopamine. Nicotine also gives a little bit of an adrenaline rush — not enough to notice, but enough to speed up the heart and raise blood pressure.
Nicotine reaches the brain within seconds after taking a puff, and its effects start to wear off within a few minutes. The user may start to feel irritated and edgy. Usually it doesn’t reach the point of serious withdrawal symptoms, but the smoker gets more uncomfortable over time. This is what most often leads the smoker to light up again. At some point, the person uses tobacco, the unpleasant feelings go away, and the cycle continues. If the smoker doesn’t smoke again soon, withdrawal symptoms get worse over time.
Smokers can quickly become dependent on nicotine and suffer physical and emotional (mental or psychological) withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking. These symptoms include irritability, nervousness, headaches, and trouble sleeping. The true mark of addiction, though, is that people still smoke even though they know smoking is bad for them — affecting their lives, their health, and their families in unhealthy ways.
In fact, most people who smoke want to quit. Nov. 16 is as good a day as any — but there really are no bad days to kick the habit. 

Comments are closed.