Quit Smoking: Improve the Health of your Body and your Home
Most people are aware of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking on the body. Yet many homeowners do not realize how damaging the habit can be to their homes not to mention the danger it presents to children and pets.
There are an estimated 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, 50 of which are known or suspected cancer-causing agents according to Health Canada. Among these chemicals are benzene, tar, nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde (the chemical used to preserve frogs for science class), acetone (used in nail polish remover), and heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead. Nicotine is the main addictive ingredient in cigarettes.
It is easy to see how second-hand smoke can be dangerous to non-smokers in the home including children and pets. By stepping outside or onto a balcony, smokers can greatly reduce the amount of toxins added to indoor air. A good quality air filter can also help.
There are currently two types of filters that are quite effective at removing indoor air pollution: electrostatic and mechanical filters. An electrostatic filter produces a static electric field to magnetically attract airborne pollutants to an oppositely charged filter. Based on the Atmospheric Dust Spot Efficiency Test, electrostatic filters are 20% to 30% effective at removing pollutants such as bacteria, dust, smoke, pet dander etc. Mechanical filters, which include a HEPA filter, are another good choice. This type captures almost 80% of all airborne pollutants according to the Atmospheric Dust Spot Efficiency Test.
Cigarette smoke also produces sticky particles that eventually form a thin tar-like film on surfaces in the home. The sticky dust is very attracted to electronic equipment; smokers often find that computer components, televisions, and stereo parts become coated. Eventually a thick film will impair function in electronics.
Smoking often causes more noticeable damage to furniture and flooring in the form of burns. The ash that falls from a cigarette is often hot enough to melt carpet fibres. Small burns can sometimes be repaired by trimming away the melted fibres. Larger burns may require a carpet patch. Burns in linoleum are more difficult to repair often requiring complete replacement. To repair a small burn on a wood floor, dip a fine steel wool pad in floor cleaner and scrub away the burnt particles. Wipe away the cleaner and re-wax or re-stain the floor. Furniture tends to burn more easily than flooring so hot ash can do significant damage.
Unfortunately, cigarettes can and do cause more serious damage than simply a small burn in floors and furniture. Too often smokers and their families have perished because of cigarettes left unattended. If you smoke indoors, be sure to never smoke in bed or when you are tired. It takes only seconds for a burning cigarette to start a fire. Check your smoke detectors regularly and be sure to have one on every floor of your home. Some insurance companies charge their smoking clients higher premiums.
After reading all of this you may have resolved to quit smoking or encourage a loved one to give up the habit. Congratulations! This is one of the best things you can do for your health and your home. It is also one of the most challenging. Nicotine is a very addictive substance; cigarettes are also emotionally and habitually addictive. Take heart - you are not alone.
According to Statistics Canada, approximately 21.5% of Canadians reported that they were smokers based on data from 2000 to 2001. The study also found that 3% of children aged 12 to 14 years were smokers although the actual number may be higher than was voluntarily reported. Considering the glamorous Hollywood images of smokers and the lingering misconceptions about cigarettes keeping people thin, it's no wonder so many young people take up the habit. Many people who started at a young age continue into adulthood and put themselves at risk for a number of diseases.
Smoking Cessation Aids
There are now more products available than ever to help you quit. It's time to take the leap into a cigarette-free life!
The "patch" resembles a band-aid and releases a slow, steady amount of nicotine onto your skin, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream. Patches are available in various strengths so you can wean yourself off of nicotine slowly. The potential downsides are the fairly high costs (almost as much as smoking) and the fact that it does not involve any of the normal physical acts of smoking, such as putting something in your mouth or reaching for something when you need nicotine. If you decide to use patches it may help to munch on carrots and celery sticks to occupy your mouth and hands. Some people even find that it helps if they light matches. It simply allows them to go through the motions and inhale the familiar scent of a burning match.
Nicotine gum is also available in different strengths and tends to be slightly cheaper than the patch. One benefit of the gum is that it provides an oral substitute for putting a cigarette in your mouth. It reportedly doesn't taste very good but perhaps that just provides added encouragement to quit!
Other, less conventional aids include hypnosis and acupuncture. Hypnosis aims to "reprogram" the mind. Instead of reaching for a cigarette people are encouraged to think of alternatives such as deep breathing, exercise or nibbling on a carrot stick. Acupuncture has also been helpful for many people. Although the scientific methods are complicated, acupuncture works with the energy meridians of the human body. At the very least, both of these methods tend to reduce tension-a common trigger for smoking.
Try to answer the questions below honestly and refer back to your answers as you go through the process of quitting. These questions may help you identify your motivations so that you can avoid situations that trigger the impulse to light up.
- Why do you smoke? (Does it relieve stress, boredom, the desire to eat, etc.)
- Why do you want to quit other than the obvious health reasons? What is motivating you?
- How would you rate your desire to smoke on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being least motivated?
- What are your cues to light up? (Coffee, seeing a certain friend who smokes, etc.)
- How do you plan to deal with the situations you answered for the previous question in order to avoid smoking?
- What sort of rewards will you give yourself for each day, week or month that you remain smoke free?
Once you've answered these questions put them where you'll see them everyday such as on the refrigerator or bathroom wall. It will be easier to stick to your plan if you see a daily reminder.
As you work through this process, keep in mind the many benefits of being smoke-free. You, your family and pets will all be able to breathe easier and you will have removed a serious fire hazard from your home.