Smoke-free: how to stop smoking

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  • 1 Smoke-free: How to quit successfully
  • 2 What do you know about smoking?

Cigarette butt

Image credit: © / solidcolours

For your own health, for the well-being of your loved ones and also for your wallet. We explain how the body benefits from quitting smoking and give tips on how to persevere.

The expert on the subject

Dr. Ursula Franken

Specialist in internal medicine
ServiceCenter AOK-Clarimedis

Smoking is unhealthy! Most know that. But it does not make it any easier to stop. According to the Tobacco Atlas 2020, almost a quarter of Germans smoke. Men are smokers more often (27%) than women (19%). A good two-thirds of all smokers reach for a cigarette every day.

The number of smokers in Germany has been falling for years. Adolescents and young adults in particular are less likely to start smoking. Since the turn of the millennium, the proportion of smokers in the 12- to 17-year-old age group has been falling and, according to the Federal Center for Health Education, is below 6% (2019). By comparison, in 2001 the percentage was still 28 percent.

The first few days without smoking often cost a lot of effort. Many feel a strong craving for a cigarette, are nervous, aggressive, sleep poorly or have an excessive appetite.

Become smoke-free: Good reasons to quit

There are many good reasons to take the path to becoming a non-smoker.

Most smokers want to ..

  • . stop harming your health.
  • … save money.
  • … can walk to the third floor without getting out of breath.
  • … that your clothes and home no longer smell of smoke.
  • … protect partners, children and other family members. After all, you all smoke passively with.
  • … get pregnant and not endanger the baby.
  • … be a role model, perhaps encourage others to give up the cigarette.

Smoking can make the body sick more easily. For example, smoking weakens the defenses of the bronchial system. So viruses and other pathogens can settle there more easily. The corona pandemic is a good reason to quit. Experts currently believe that smokers have a higher risk of developing severe Covid 19 disease.

Self-test: Nicotine addiction

Do you want to get away from cigarettes? Then first determine how high your nicotine dependence is! The so-called Fagerstrom self-test helps you to do this.

Notice: This test cannot replace a visit to the doctor or a medical diagnosis. It merely clarifies whether you have a tendency toward nicotine dependence.

How addicted are you?

When after waking up do you smoke your first cigarette?

Please answer the question to continue.

Find it difficult to quit smoking in places where smoking is prohibited?

Please answer the question to continue.

Which cigarette would you not want to give up?

Please answer the question to continue.

How many cigarettes do you smoke per day in general??

Please answer the question to continue.

Smoke more in the early morning than during the rest of the day?

Please answer the question to continue.

Does it happen that you smoke when you are sick and have to stay in bed during the day?

Please answer the question to continue.

Low dependency

0 to 3 points: Your information indicates a low level of dependence. You smoke little and only on special occasions. Nevertheless, you should also avoid these cigarettes in the future. Smokers at this stage often still succeed in giving up smoking by a willpower decision alone.

Medium dependence

4 to 6 points: Your information suggests moderate dependence. In this case, there is a strong case for using a cessation aid such as a smoking cessation course.

Strong dependence

over 7 points: You have a strong dependence on cigarettes. We therefore recommend that you participate in a smoking cessation treatment program.

How the body recovers

The Timeline shows how the body changes after the last cigarette. The good news is that even within the first day, you’ll start to see a lot of positive effects.

After 20 minutes
The blood pressure drops and the pulse gets a normal rhythm. Because fewer stress hormones are released in the central nervous system. The temperature of the hands and feet also normalizes because the blood vessels dilate.

After 8 hours
The level of carbon monoxide in the blood has dropped to a normal level. So the red blood cells can now work better. This is important because they supply all organs with oxygen.

After 24 hours
The risk of a heart attack has already decreased. In addition, you can now taste and perceive odors better. Because the receptors in the mouth and nose are more sensitive.

After 7 days
Congratulations! You have managed the physical nicotine withdrawal.

After 2 weeks
The body now has a better overall blood supply. So the cells are better supplied with oxygen. The cycle gets going. Cigarettes age the skin, it now looks healthier and rosier

After 4 weeks
The smoker’s cough subsides and you get better air. Here’s why you’ll feel more alert and able to concentrate. The cilia in the lungs transport mucus and particles out of the bronchi. Your lung capacity is up to 30 percent greater – depending on how much you smoked previously.

After 6 weeks
Your immune system has become significantly stronger. Watch out! Now the risk of relapse is particularly high. Hold out! Realize how far you’ve come and how much good you’ve already done for your health.

After 3 months
Both men and women are now more fertile. Sperm are now more mobile. In women, pollutants are no longer deposited in the uterine mucosa. This reduces the risk of premature births and miscarriages.

After 6 months
The mucous membranes in the entire throat, nose and ear area have recovered. Even the sinuses are completely regenerated.

After 9 months
Meanwhile you can breathe freely. The risk of you getting an infection like bronchitis or pneumonia has become much lower.

After 1 year
The risk of coronary artery occlusion has halved compared to a smoker. Because smoking makes the blood more viscous, so that it clumps more easily.

After 5 years
You are now as likely to have a stroke as someone who has never smoked. Because you no longer have elevated blood pressure. Plus, your blood vessels don’t clog as easily anymore.

After 10 years
Their risk of developing lung cancer is cut in half. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, or pancreas also decreased. Because cigarette smoke contains around 90 carcinogenic substances. They promote the development of malignant cancer cells.

After 15 years
Now your body has fully recovered. The risks of getting sick are at the level of a non-smoker.

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