Healthy living and a better lifestyle refer to the steps, actions, and strategies one puts in place to achieve optimum health and quality of life. It is about taking responsibility for your decisions and making smart lifestyle choices for today and for the future – being mindful of one’s own physical, emotional, and social wellbeing.
Smoking, one of the most problematic lifestyle choices of about 1 billion people, has been a leading cause of avoidable premature mortality worldwide for decades. The smoke inhaled from a cigarette contains over 6000potentially toxic chemicals, out of which about 100 arestronglylinked to smoking-related diseases. Cigarette smoke impacts the lungs, teeth, and even the skin, contributing to faster aging. Scientific studies also show that regularly smoking cigarettes can contribute directly to the development of many life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, lung disease, and others. Chronic smokers inevitably harm their lungs over time, compromising the necessary transport of oxygen throughout their bodies. This results in smokers experiencing more fatigue, breathlessness and difficulty exercising. In many cases, this discourages them from an active lifestyle, which is necessary for good health and wellbeing.
In addition to this, smoking causes harm not just to the smokers themselves, but also to the people around them, through second-hand smoke.
Despite these many harms inflicted by cigarette smoke, the idea that cigarette smoking is helpful for weight loss has also been a part of popular culture for many years. However, scientific evidence shows that heavy smoking may actually cause insulin resistance, central fat accumulation, and abdominal obesity. According to one study by Peeters et al., (2003), the life expectancy of obese smokers is 13 years less than that of normal-weight non-smokers. This means that overweight adults who are using cigarettes as a way to accelerate weight loss are actually harming their health greatly.
These problems can be prevented if one quits smoking, but quitting all at once can prove quite difficult for many smokers. Some aids that are proven to help smokers quit, or at least curb their smoking addiction, include nicotine patches, nicotine gums, therapy, and support groups.
Another scientifically substantiated method to reduce smoking-associated risksfor those adults who choose to continue to smoke, is to shift to non-combusted alternative such as e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products. These products, though not risk-free, expose the user to 95% less toxins than cigarettes and some smokers find that transitioning to these alternatives helps them gradually quit smoking.
One study has shown that smokers who believed that switching to these smokeless tobacco products would be safer and reduce health risks were more likely to quit smoking. Therefore, it is important that individuals who are seeking to quit smoking have access to all the necessary information and products so that they can make the best lifestyle choice for themselves and for those around them.