Smoking Cravings & Gain Weight Post-Quit
If quitting smoking was easy, the majority of smokers would do it. Between the health risks associated with smoking, which are well known, and the cost of smoking, there are few reasons to continue with the habit. Sadly, quitting smoking using traditional methods isn’t easy which is why so many continue, regardless of the risks. We look at why quitting smoking is so hard, what the main issues are and what can be done to make becoming smoke free much easier.
Why Quit Smoking?
We say that the reasons for quitting smoking are commonly known, but are they? We’d like to think so however just in case we are going to look at the reasons why continuing to smoke is, quite simply, a bad idea and why vaping e liquids can be a much better alternative.
Public Health England, the government group responsible for all matters concerning public health, including harm reduction, work tirelessly to spread awareness of the risks associated with smoking. There are billboards, posters, radio advertisements, online information, information in schools and more all advertising the harm that smoking causes, and on the flipside, the benefits of quitting smoking.
In addition to this, the World Health Organisation has classified many of the ingredients (chemicals) found within tobacco cigarettes and tobacco smoke as being both toxic and as being carcinogenic. This means that tobacco cigarettes have the potential to cause cancer.
It is safe to say that the cost to your health when you smoke is significant. When you give up though, your health starts to improve within 20 minutes, with your heartbeat/pulse returning to normal levels and your blood pressure improving. Within 12 hours your blood oxygen level will return to your “normal” level and the amount of CO2 will also revert back to your norm. The benefits of giving up smoking are numerous and ongoing.
Cost of Living
When it comes to smoking tobacco cigarettes, the monetary cost has become higher than anyone could have foreseen. The average twenty pack of cigarettes now costs around £10. That’s £70 a week for a 20-a-day tobacco cigarette smoker. That’s £3640 a year. When you consider the fact that the cost of living in the UK, from house prices to food has risen significantly faster than earnings have, having such a costly habit has become prohibitive for many, even causing debt as giving up smoking isn’t easy, whether you can afford it or not.
Tobacco cigarettes are not going to get any cheaper, as annual rises have been set out in the government budget every year for quite some time, and these increases don’t seem likely to stop.
Smoking now has a negative social stigma attached to it. This is all thanks to the Go Smoke Free smoking ban of 2007, spearheaded by Public Health England, which sees smoking illegal on public transport, in public buildings, on train stations, in cafes, bars, workplaces and more. In addition to this, it is widely recognised that passive smoking, i.e. breathing in the smoke from a smoker’s cigarette, can be just as harmful to a non-smoker as smoking can be to a smoker. If social opinion matters to you, this adds another option to your list of reasons why quitting smoking is a good idea.
Other Costs of Smoking
It is important to look at the other costs associated with smoking. If your own health isn’t something you value enough, perhaps the environment is? The amount of smoking-related litter that Keep Britain Tidy and other environmental groups report is quite frankly staggering. Asides from the tobacco cigarette boxes themselves there are cigarette buds to deals with, which can take over a decade to even start to degrade. Even then, the impact on the environment is significant.
In addition to the cost to the environment, and local councils who are often responsible for keeping the streets clean, and declogging the drains and so on that get filled with litter, you have to look at the overall cost of smoking to the NHS. Smoking-related illnesses and diseases cost the NHS billions each year between prescriptions, GP appointments, Stop Smoking Services, outpatient appointments, diagnosis-led appointments and inpatient care. Smoking has a significant impact on your health, contributing to or causing a number of illnesses from asthma and COPD to health issues and cancer. The cost of smoking in this instance is very high as it can contribute to premature death.
What are Cravings?
One of the hardest things about giving up smoking is the fact that you have to deal with the cravings that come with
stopping your tobacco smoking habit. Cravings are not as cut and dried as you might think, as there are three different types of cravings you might find yourself dealing with.
Many people struggle with letting go of the physical aspects of smoking, particularly the hand to mouth action, the simple act of having something in your hand and the relaxing inhale/exhale action.
Nicotine is well-known as being addictive. This means that giving up cigarettes, particularly if you go “cold turkey”, is hard as your body craves the nicotine it is used to. There are other elements of chemical cravings too as tobacco cigarettes are crammed with chemicals and the body gets used to these too.
It is not all all uncommon for people to simply miss smoking. A habit is just that, something that you are used to, something you have built into your daily routines, and something you feel that you need.
Why Do We Gain Weight When Quitting Smoking
There are several reasons why people gain weight when they quit smoking. Some of that is attributed to not having something in their hand, boredom and increased appetite (nicotine can act as an appetite suppressant). While individuals might gain anywhere from no weight to up to ten pounds over a year after giving up, that certainly isn’t true of everyone. Some people don’t gain weight at all. It all comes down to the individual and how they plan or and manage their post-smoking habits. It is worth noting of course that while gaining some weight isn’t at the top of the list of healthy things to do, the benefits of quitting smoking are many and long term. It’s also important to remember that gaining weight after quitting smoking is not something that will definitely happen, and can be avoided.
Top Tips For Combating Smoking Cravings
To maximise your chances of giving up smoking it is important to have a plan in place to combat your smoking cravings.
Triggers are things, places, times and habits which make you automatically want to reach for a cigarette. These might be at certain times of the day, such as with your morning coffee, when going for a takeaway or even drinking alcohol. Step one is all about recognising when these dangerous times are likely to occur. Step two is all about working to avoid these triggers by changing your routines, turning to an alternative such as an e cigarette rather than a cigarette, and working around those things that make you want to restart smoking, until these cravings pass. They will pass!
Vaping has been recognised as being a valid and useful alternative to tobacco smoking which has enabled many to successful give up smoking altogether. Public Health England released a vaping review in 2018 which hailed vaping as being at least 95% less harmful than smoking. This evidence based reviewed has been supported by many scientists, healthcare professionals, NHS personnel, health experts, health charities and more.
Vaping is so very different to smoking, i.e. with vaping you heat up e liquid that contains base liquids (VG and PG), flavourings and nicotine (or not, as there are nicotine-free e liquids to choose from). With smoking you breathe in the smoke from burnt tobacco and toxic chemicals (according to the World Health Organisation who also classify tobacco smoke as having the potential to cause cancer). It is clear why using an e cigarette is the preferred option.
Not only is vaping a great alternative, it has also been proven to be a useful cessation device, although an unofficial one at the moment. If you remember the three smoking craving types, the physical, chemical and psychological factors; vaping mimics all of these. You may still enjoy the hand to mouth action, the inhale and exhale action, the relaxation, social aspect and more when switching to vaping. E liquids still contain nicotine, which means that this craving is essential taken care of as there is no nicotine withdrawal. You can, however, alter the amount of nicotine that you are using by choosing a different strength, effectively stepping down your nicotine usage over time to zero, if this is a post-smoking goal for you. It stands to reason that switching to vaping could also help with the weight gain risks.
Cravings, triggers and the worry of weight gain are all things that make quitting smoking difficult. They need to be addressed however because quite frankly, smoking can be deadly. Switching to vaping from tobacco cigarettes can have a hugely positive effect on smokers who have tried to quit before and been unsuccessful. Many, including health organisations and Public Health England, are calling for e cigarettes to be officially recognised as being a cessation device, making access to them easier for some groups, and increasing the number of people who are able to give up smoking altogether. You can learn more about nicotine and how it works on the Science Museum website.
If you are looking to give up smoking and have found it difficult in the past, vaping might be the answer which will help you quit smoking successfully. Good luck!