Do you find yourself surrounded by a cloud of smoke in the outdoors? Whether you're a smoker or a bystander, you are breathing tar and poison gases - carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into your lungs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports approximately 6 million people are killed by tobacco each year, with 600,000 deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke.
There are more than 7,000 chemicals, including over 60 carcinogens that are known to cause cancer in tobacco smoke says the American Cancer Society (ACS). The tobacco leaves used in cigarette production contains radioactive materials that can build up in the lungs overtime and result in a high percentage of radiation in your body which can predispose a smoker to cancer.
To raise global awareness about the about the negative effects of tobacco use, World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), created by WHO in 1987, is observed every year on May 31. This year's theme, "Free Yourself", encourages people to "free" themselves from tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The cigarette industry spent $23 million every day in advertising and promotions in 2011 says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The amount of state spending on tobacco control is relatively small compared to the revenue states receive in tobacco taxes and legal settlements. This year, states are expected to collect $25.7 billion in tobacco revenue but will only spend 1.8 percent of that amount on smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Despite the 38 percent decrease from cigarette consumption from 2000 to 2011, tobacco consumption - loose tobacco and cigars - increased by 123.1 percent during the same time period reports the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The data suggests that cigarette smokers have resorted to other tobacco products because of the rise in cigarette prices due to the 2009 federal tax hike.
With at least 30 percent of all cancers and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths linked to tobacco consumption, it is not too late to kick the habit and prevent chronic illnesses.
Quit smoking on World No Tobacco Day, today, with these five scientifically-proven all-natural ways that will help your lungs breathe a little easier.
Acupuncture can provide relief for the symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal such as, the jitters, restlessness and irritability. Withdrawal symptoms are worse within the first week of quitting and the intensity of the symptoms drops over the first month says The National Cancer Institute (NCI).
"One of the most effective natural and drug-free ways to quit smoking is through acupuncture" said Allison Bailey, Harvard trained MD acupuncturist to Medical Daily. "This form of therapy is very effective for treating addictions of all kinds, including for smoke cessation."
Prior to receiving acupuncture, a therapist will evaluate several of your smoking habits, including but not limited to: when you smoke, how often do you smoke and what triggers your reason to spoke. Common triggers that boost your nicotine cravings can be starting the day, drinking coffee or tea and feeling stressed.
Once you receive a full diagnosis that will determine a unique method of treatment, your smoking cessation decreases. Cigarette cessations lower because the acupuncture enhances the levels of serotonin in the plasma and brain tissue says a study conducted at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan.
The American Journal of Medicine (AJM) reports the findings of a review that observed 14 previous clinical trials who used acupuncture as an alternative therapy for smokers to kick the habit. Six of the 14 studies tested acupuncture against a fake version - the placement of needles in non-acupunctural points on the body - to find that the smokers who received the real acupuncture were more than three times as likely to not smoke for a duration of six months to a year.
Hypnotherapy, a form of psychotherapy, is a powerful way to let go of bad habits, get to the core of triggers that can be affiliated to your emotions and explore your consciousness. Through guided meditation, visualization, relaxing music and deep breathing this form of therapy will put you in a state of trance says Mayo Clinic. Your hypnotherapist will talk to you through this process that will transmit to your subconscious to increase your motivation for quitting and change your previous smoking habits.
Imagery or visualization is commonly used in hypnotherapy for smokers who want to kick the habit. Your therapist may ask you to picture how easier it will be to breathe without smoking.
In a study, conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California-San Francisco, researchers found that hypnotherapy was just as effective as conventional methods of smoking cessation. A sample size of 286 participants were randomly divided and received either hypnosis or standard behavioral counseling to quit smoking for two 60-minute sessions along with three 20-minute follow-up calls to discuss the sessions. The results showed that hypnosis was helpful for smokers who had a history of depression or struggled with other psychiatric conditions.
The relaxed state and a therapist's discussion of the series of skills for coping with nicotine withdrawal symptoms is one of the many alternative therapies that has gained national recognition and acceptance. "This study provides much-needed evidence that hypnosis is indeed a very helpful treatment," said senior researcher in mental health at SFVAMC, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF and lead author of the study Timothy Carmody.
The practice of meditation can provide a way for an individual to access themselves in a cool, calm and collected state. The psychological distress and stress that former smokers undergo during the first few weeks of withdrawal can be controlled through meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one's physical, mental and emotional experiences says the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC).
The Yale University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry conducted a study of 88 treatment-seeking, nicotine addict adults who smoked an average of 20 cigarettes a day and randomly assigned them to receive either mindfulness training or the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking treatment. Researchers found 32 percent of adults in the mindfulness group had not smoked a week before their follow-up appointment compared to the 6 percent of adults in the Freedom From Smoking program. Meditation can help people quit smoking and encourage them to begin healthy habits like exercising, changing their diet and improve their overall well-being. This cognitive skill that can help regulate craving, withdrawal symptoms, stress and negative emotions from smoking.
A simple self-massage in the ear or hand can reduce nicotine cravings for smoke. Touching your ear or hand can help calm the mind and eliminate the craving because they are microsystems that represent the whole body. For example, a medical condition that is in your body can be treated by using several points in one microsystem, either your ear or your hand.
In a study conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine, twenty adult smokers were randomly assigned to a self-message treatment or a control group to test the effects a massage has on smoking cravings. The treatment group had to do a hand or ear self-massage during three craving a day for the duration of one month. Researchers found that those who gave themselves a massage had lower anxiety, improved mood, fewer withdrawal symptoms and smoked fewer cigarettes a day compared to their counterparts.
A two minute massage on these two microsystems can reduce your cravings and make you feel at ease.
A sit down with your doctor can help increase your chances to quit smoking. Certified tabacco treatment specialist and certified health and wellness coach and founder of Kick It Catalyst, Cara Citrowske, told Medical Daily "The best natural way to quit smoking is to partner with a professional, like a certified tobacco treatment specialist, who can help you create a personalized success plan to live tobacco free." Seeking physician advice for smoking cessation can help quitters stick to a regimen and have a preventative relapse system. Citrowske said nearly 70 percent of quitters relapse within 72 hours so it is vital to openly discuss your situation.
A UK study conducted at the University of Oxford Department of Primary Health reviewed 41 trials, conducted between 1972 and 2007 which included over 31,000 smokers to see how physician advice could improve a patient's health by getting them to stop smoking. The results showed that brief advice from a healthcare professional could increase quitting by up to three percent. The positive verbal reinforcement of a physician and the patient's determination to quit can provide you with a clean bill of health.