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How to overcome the urge to smoke?

- By Maansi Sood

If you think you are the only one who writes “Quit Smoking” at the top of their new year resolution list every year; and yet fail to do so - you are definitely not alone! Most of us find it hard to let go of the habit, despite knowing the ill-effects:

  • Increased risk of cavities, oral cancer, mouth sore and ulcers.

  • Smokers tend to have less muscles and a bigger belly.

  • You can also suffer from mild to moderate hear loss.

  • Smoking stresses your heart, thus increasing the chances of a heart attack.

  • You can scar your lungs, leading to shortness of breath and a chronic cough.

  • You’re at risk for more broken bones, and longer healing period.

Smoking causes Cancer! webreg30380/Shutterstock

When an urge to use tobacco strikes, remember that although it may be intense, it will probably pass within five to ten minutes; whether or not you smoke a cigarette or take a dip of chewing tobacco. Each time you resist a craving, you're one step closer to stopping it for good!

As per Global Adult Tobacco Survey-India (GATS2), India is home to over 27 crore tobacco users and globally it is the second largest producer and consumer of tobacco products. Available estimates in India show that smoking-attributable annual deaths were about 930,000, while the smokeless tobacco (SLT) attributable annual deaths were about 350,000, together accounting for about 1,280,000 deaths per year or approximately 3500 deaths every day.

Indian citizens willing to quit tobacco can call the toll free Quitline:1800-11-2356 or/and also avail the services of mCessation through behavioral change text messages by sending a missed call on the mCessation number 011-22901701 or registering at

mCessation India Helpline

Apart from that, Here are 10 things you can try the next time you’re having a strong urge to smoke:

1. Take a deep breath: Deep breathing decreases anxiety, increases calm. It also increases your energy and helps you to overcome cravings.

2. Make a list of your reasons for quitting: By weighing the pros and cons, you put your brain into action. These could be anything from getting healthier and sparing your loved ones from passive smoke to saving money.

3. Chew on it: Give your mouth something to do to fight a tobacco craving. Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch on nuts or seeds — something crunchy and satisfying.

4. Practice relaxation techniques: Do what relaxes you the most. This could range from involving yourself in morning & evening walks, yoga, light exercise, listening to calming music, deep-breathing exercises or even a massage.

5. Talk to a loved one: Humans are blessed with the ability to communicate with each other. Talk to your friends and family and allow them to be a part of the solution.

6. Join a support group: Talking to people who have been through similar situation gives you mental strength. Knowing that someone has experienced the same things as you—and has succeeded in kicking the habit—may be just the affirmation you need to push past the craving.

7. Keep track of your progress: Keeping a record of how far you've come will encourage you to push your boundaries even further. You can always go back to your progress for inspiration in a weak moment. You can use a journal or an app, whatever you like for the same.

8. Indulge in a sport: Playing a game is one of the best ways to spend your leisure time. Not only will it distract you from the habit; it will also boost your hormones to a good level.

9. Identify your triggers: If you are well-aware of the situations that are likely to trigger your craving, you can be in better control of them. Learn how to say no; and pat yourself when you are successful in doing so.

10. Delay: If you feel like you're going to give in to your tobacco craving, tell yourself that you must first wait 10 more minutes — and then do something to distract yourself for that period of time.

Quitting any habit is a complicated process. There are many factors, physical, mental, emotional, and biological that make quitting difficult. But with will-power, humans can possibly overcome anything & everything. The process of de-addiction is not easy or straightforward, but it is for the good. Ending this blog with the day-old saying: "One day or Day one - It is your choice!


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