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logic

People smoke for many different reasons. Smoking is very addictive because tobacco contains a powerful drug called nicotine. Smokers have also been influenced by the clever marketing tactics of tobacco companies for many years.

Nicotine as a drug

Cigarettes are deliberately designed to give you a fast nicotine hit. It takes just 10 seconds for the drug to reach your brain from inhaled cigarette smoke. Nicotine causes addiction in much the same way as heroin or cocaine. It is just as addictive as these ‘harder’ drugs.

Nicotine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and affects many different parts of your brain and body. Smokers get a high because nicotine triggers the release of dopamine in the brain – a chemical linked to feelings of pleasure.

This also means that smokers start to make a mental link between the act of smoking and feeling good. Because of this, smokers can also become addicted to abstract things like the taste of cigarettes or the feeling of smoking, as well as the nicotine itself.

 

Withdrawal symptoms

Addiction explains why giving up smoking can cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include cravings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and disturbed sleep.

As your body adjusts to the lack of nicotine, these symptoms will start to disappear and most will go away within a month. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to cope but the benefits to your health are well worth it.

Nicotine as a poison

Nicotine is a neurotoxin (a poison that kills nerve cells) found in tobacco plants. It acts as a defence mechanism to stop them from being eaten by animals.

However, in cigarettes, the level of nicotine is too low to cause poisoning. And the nicotine in nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a safe way to come off the nicotine in cigarettes. Using NRT can double your chances of successfully quitting.

Tobacco advertising and promotion

Half of smokers die from smoking-related diseases. The tobacco industry needs new customers to replace the 114,000 people who are killed by smoking in the UK each year. Cigarette manufacturers make sure that:

  • they know exactly why people smoke
  • they cleverly market products to attract new customers.

In the past cigarette manufacturers have deliberately targeted children and young people. The industry spends a great deal of money on making cigarettes seem glamorous, appealing, fashionable and attractive. Most smokers started when they were young and image conscious. Young smokers often find it difficult to give up in later life.

Cigarette advertising is now banned in the UK. So the industry is developing new and subtle tactics to avoid prosecution.

Stress and relaxation

Many people claim that smoking helps them to cope with stress. But in fact, nicotine is a stimulant and won’t help you to relax. Smokers probably think a cigarette makes them feel better because when they aren’t smoking they suffer from nicotine withdrawal.

Other personal reasons for smoking

People have many other personal reasons for smoking. Smokers may:

  • use smoking as a support for when things go wrong
  • enjoy smoking with others as a shared activity
  • use smoking to start conversations and meet new people
  • smoke to make themselves look more confident and in control
  • think that cigarettes help them to keep their weight down
  • have a cigarette when they’re feeling bored or lonely
  • smoke when they need a break or a moment to themselves.

Knowing why you smoke is one of the first steps towards giving up.

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babysmokin

We know that it can be difficult to quit smoking. But we also know that you want to give your baby the best possible start in life.

Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to improve your baby’s health, growth and development. But there are many old wives’ tales about smoking during pregnancy that actually stop mums-to-be from quitting. So we want to share the facts that you need to know.

No matter what stage you’re at in your pregnancy, it’s never too late to stop smoking. The NHS offers specialist support for pregnant women who are trying to quit, so once you’ve read this page the best thing you can do is get in touch with us – we’re here to help you, your partner and your baby.

Promo smoking and pregnancy

Know the risks

It’s difficult to imagine when you can’t see your baby, but smoking when you’re pregnant is like blowing smoke in your baby’s face. When you smoke a cigarette, the poisons from the cigarette smoke are passed on to your baby.

Not only is this very distressing for your baby, but the exposure to these poisons can last up to 15 minutes at a time. It’s like putting your baby in a smoke-filled room for 15 minutes.

This happens for each and every cigarette you smoke, so cutting down on your smoking rather than quitting completely will still have a harmful effect on your baby’s wellbeing.

How smoking affects your baby in the womb

The lungs

When you smoke you breathe in more than 4,000 chemicals from the cigarette. The smoke goes from your lungs into your bloodstream. That blood flows to your placenta and umbilical cord, right into your baby’s tiny body. This causes your baby to struggle for oxygen.

The heart

One of the chemicals found in cigarettes is carbon monoxide, a dangerous chemical that gets into your bloodstream.

This restricts the supply of oxygen that’s essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development. This causes your baby’s tiny heart to pump even harder.

How smoking affects your newborn baby

Your baby’s tiny body is completely dependent on yours, so if you smoke throughout your pregnancy, your baby will go through nicotine withdrawal once it is born. This can make your baby stressed and irritable and it may be difficult to stop them crying.

Smoking while you are pregnant also increases the risk of your baby dying from cot death by at least 25%.

How smoking affects your children

Second-hand smoke is very dangerous for anyone exposed to it, but it is particularly dangerous for children babysmokin

Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks and meningitis. Last year in the UK, 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions were caused by children breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke.

 

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