31st May is World No Tobacco Day and the theme for this year is ‘Tobacco and Cardiovascular disease’. Tobacco use is undoubtedly a key risk factor for various heart problems such as coronary heart disease and, stroke. But given the numerous misconceptions about quitting tobacco and smoking, it is important to spread awareness about the common excuses that people use by debunking these myths.
Myth #1: If I quit smoking, I will gain weight.
Fact: Only if you substitute cigarettes with food will you gain weight after quitting.
Myth #2: Even if I quit smoking now, it’s too late to reverse the damage.
Fact: From 2 to 5 years after quitting, your risk for stroke is similar to that of a nonsmoker. In 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is cut in half.
Myth #3: The little smoke my kids get won’t hurt them.
Fact: Secondhand smoke is as dangerous as active smoking. Your kids can get bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections from smoke, even if you smoke by an open window.
Myth #4: Cigar smoking is safer than cigarettes.
Fact: Cigar smokers have higher death rates from COPD and are 4 to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the throat, mouth, lips, larynx and esophagus than nonsmokers.
Myth #5: Chewing tobacco is safer than cigarettes because I don’t inhale the smoke.
Fact: People who chew tobacco are more likely to develop oral cancers which affect the tongue, lips, cheeks and gums.
Myth #6: It is safe to smoke light and low-tar cigarettes.
Fact: There is not such thing as a safe cigarette. When you smoke these cigarettes, you inhale deeper and thus, end up taking in more carbon monoxide and tar.
Myth #7: I am just a social smoker.
Fact: Every cigarette you smoke is harming you and the people around you. The more you smoke, the more your body learns to depend on nicotine, which makes it difficult to quit.
Myth #8. My other healthy habits can make up for my smoking.
Fact: A healthy diet and active lifestyle with no vices other than smoking are good for the health. However, it will not reduce the ill effects of smoking on the body.
Myth #9: I tried quitting one but failed. It is not worth trying again.
Fact: Quitting smoking can be harder for some people. It might take several tries to kick the butt but don’t give up.
Myth #10: Smoking is relaxing and helps fight stress.
Fact: Not true at all. Instead, smoking increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure and ups the stress level overall.
Myth #11: I only smoke menthol cigarettes which are harmless.
Fact: Menthol cigarettes are as harmful as normal cigarettes. The only difference is that they are flavoured by menthol, which in turn makes it more addictive.
Myth #12: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is as harmful as smoking or chewing tobacco.
Fact: NRT that include nicotine patch, gum, lozenges, inhaler and nasal sprays are always a safer option than chewing tobacco or smoking. It not only causes slow release of minimal amounts of nicotine but also has fewer side effects than smoking.
Myth #13: Smokeless tobacco is healthier than smoking cigarette.
Fact: Whether it is smokeless or filtered tobacco, it is still tobacco, which provides nicotine along with other harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
Myth #14: E-cigarette or vaping is a healthier option than normal cigarettes.
Fact: E-cigarettes do contain chemicals such as nicotine, ultrafine particles, flavourings and heavy metals all of which have long term effects on the health. It can be less harmful but not a safe option.
Myth #15: Tobacco is not a drug.
Fact: Nicotine found in tobacco products is an addictive drug. Nicotine addiction can be compared with addiction to drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
Myth #16: Cold turkey is the only way to quit smoking.
Fact: There is no doubt that will power plays a major role in quitting smoking. However, the chances of success are more if you take professional and family help.
Myth #17: Smoking won’t do anything to me until I am old.
Fact: The earlier you start smoking, the sooner your body shows the signs of damage due to cigarette smoke. Symptoms of bad breath and yellow teeth might start soon but signs of heart disease and cancer might take time to show up, irrespective of your age.
Myth 18: Smoking doesn’t hurt anybody but me.
Fact: Secondhand smoke kills thousands of people every year. When you smoke at home, office or restaurants, everyone around you smokes poison.
Myth #19: Smoking makes me look ‘cool’.
Fact: Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, off which at least 250 are toxic and put you at risk of cancer. So smoking is not at all cool or sexy at any cost.
Myth #20: I am pregnant, so I can’t quit smoking as it might affect my baby. (Yes some people believe this.)
Fact: By quitting smoking, you will not only protect your infant from the dangers of secondhand smoke but also lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).