As far as bad habits go, smoking is undoubtedly the worst. As if you didn’t already know, it increases your blood pressure and heart rate, thickens your blood, and inhibits the amount of oxygen circulating through your body by making your arteries more narrow. All of these factors significantly increase your chance of heart attack or stroke. In fact, one recent study even found that having just one cigarette a day can significantly shorten your lifespan.
While we’ve certainly come a long was from the Mad Men-era days of working professionals chain-smoking at their office desks, a fair number of people continue indulging in this life-threatening habit in spite of being aware of all of its dangers.
According to the CDC, the most recent statistics on smoking state that more than 15 of every 100 Americans aged 18 years or older currently smoke cigarettes, which adds up to about 37.8 million adults in the United States. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease, and it’s the leading cause of preventable death, accounting for one in 5 deaths in the US.
The rising popularity of e-cigarettes such as Juul, is also of concern to health experts, given that they seem to be especially trendy among teens, and studies have shown that people who become addicted to nicotine early in life find it harder to quit as adults and are also more susceptible to other addictive behavior later on.
If you have become addicted to nicotine, quitting isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. The withdrawal symptoms, which include vomiting, dry heaving, and intense cravings, are so unbearable that they make it almost impossible to function. There’s also an emotional aspect to his addiction, and many smokers describe their Camel Light or vape as a “friend” that’s always there to comfort them when they need it, which makes quitting feel comparable to breaking up with someone you know is toxic but who you’ve nonetheless grown to love and depend on.
Many of the conventional approaches to quitting—patches, nicotine gum, etc.—simply don’t work in the long run, many smokers find. So recently, we asked Fiona Lamb, a clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in addiction, for the most recent tips on quitting smoking, and they’re pretty effective.
Firstly, she suggests changing your brand of cigarettes, because “if they taste differently to what you’re used to it’ll start to break-up your habits, making them more malleable to change in the long-run.”
Secondly, you need to muster up the willpower to delay your first cigarette of the day, since “that gets your nicotine dependence down as it forces your body to go for longer in the day without it.”
Thirdly, you should cut back on caffeine, because “high-amounts of coffee per day increases the amount of tension in your already frenetic nervous system.” (For what it’s worth, it also seems like coffee may play a contributing role in cancer, so it’s not a bad idea to do away with it in general.)
It’s also helpful to remember that even though that first drag might feel good, nicotine is a stimulant, which means it doesn’t actually calm you down.
But the biggest hack that she suggests is this: have a glass of milk with every cigarette.
According to a 2007 study, while alcohol and coffee seem to enhance the taste of cigarettes, dairy products such as milk and cheese make them taste terrible. So, if you’re looking to quit, try pairing your next smoke with a glass of whole milk. You might be surprised to find how quickly you end up putting it out and brushing your teeth instead.
And for more motivation to quit, check out why Harvard Says Doing These 5 Things Will Extend Your Life.
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