Smoking: The eves and butts

can’t kick the habit Women fear quitting smoking may lead to weight gain.

Smoking remains a serious public health issue for both men and women. Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death and illness such as cancer, respiratory illness and heart disease. Worldwide, the trend appears to be that the number of men smokers is declining at a faster rate than women smokers. Some studies even indicate that as the number of men smokers is declining, the number of women who take up smoking is increasing.

Consequently, the gap in the percentages of male and female smokers has narrowed. For example, in the United States in 1965, slightly more than half of all men smoked, while only about a third of women did. Today, 23.3% of men smoke, compared with 18.6% of women. According to scientists at Women’s Health Research at Yale University, women appear to have a tougher time quitting smoking than men.  
* Is it really harder for women to quit smoking? One theory advanced by psychologists is that when men quit smoking, they are mostly concerned about the biological symptoms of craving. However, psychologists claim that women are more likely to use cigarettes to try and manage moods, to deal with stress, to control weight and (in some cultures), to assert their independence. In other words, women are smoking for different reasons than men. Experts, therefore, recommend using methods that address the physical as well as the mental issues.

A good example of a method that does not address the mental/emotional issues is the nicotine patch, which is considered to be the first line of treatment for smoking. Research data on the nicotine patch suggest that women do less well quitting smoking when using the patch than men do, probably because it targets symptoms of physical craving rather than the symptoms that are more prominent for women.

*Are women moodier than men or less good at managing stress? Not at all. However, research indicates that the rates of depression worldwide are higher in women than in men. May be men are the cause of their depression!
Scientists find that stress is a pathway to depression in both men and women, although stress appears to be a more potent predictor of depression in women than men. Knowing that, we can understand how women would be attempting to use a variety of strategies to handle stress, including smoking. This is because smokers (both women and men), believe that nicotine can help reduce anxiety and modulate one’s mood. They also believe nicotine delivers temporary positive effects. Even if that were true, those positive effects are not worth the long-term health risks.

* Does the threat of gaining weight make it harder for women to quit? The sad truth is that weight gain is often a deterrent to quitting smoking, particularly among women. The general belief is that when you try to stop smoking, you will gain weight. The horror of gaining weight keeps women from even trying to quit.

* Does quitting smoking inevitably lead to weight gain? There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is: Yes, quitting can lead to weight gain IF the smoker consciously or unconsciously substitutes food for nicotine (as many do). This is because most cessation methods rely heavily on the use of will power. When using will power, the smoker will feel a sense of sacrifice and deprivation after quitting and hence be tempted to substitute food for nicotine. This in turn leads to weight gain and misery. One of the times a smoker feels like reaching for a cigarette is when they are miserable. So, the smoker soon finds herself in a “no-win” situation.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way!
There are therapies like Allen Carr Easyway which disprove the claim that it is harder for women to quit, for the following reasons: All smokers continue to smoke for the same reason: because they become addicted to nicotine. All smokers buy into the same false beliefs about smoking (ex: Like women, men also believe smoking helps them deal with stress).

These are the true reasons why people continue to smoke against their better judgment. Allen Carr’s Easyway therapy, with its 25-year history of curing over 10 million smokers, proves that the right method can be as effective for women as for men. When you quit without using will power, there is no sense of deprivation and therefore no need for food substitution, and therefore no weight gain.

(The author is a certified Allen Carr smoking cessation therapist. For details, contact Aleem Sheikh at 99725 12348, 080-41603838. Email: info@easywaytostopsmoking.co.in or wellness.zone@gmail.com)

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