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How to Stop Smoking

Subject: Science

Description: It has now been seven years since I had my last cigarette and became a non-smoker. In this article I explore the origins of smoking, why people smoke, health risks and if you want to stop, tips to help you stop smoking for good.

Posted by David Caldwell on 18/12/13 at 20:30

History of Tobacco

Tobacco (Nicotiana Tabacum), is a plant indigenous to the Americas it produces a neurotoxin called nicotine as a defence against being eaten by animals.  The native populations probably did not use the drug recreationally but used it for medicinal purposes or in large doses for hallucinogenic shamanic rituals.  Europeans discovered the plant in 1492 after Christopher Columbus’s crew rediscovered the Americas and recreational pipe smoking became widespread during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries CE.

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Tobacco plantations sprung up in Virginia North America in the early 16th Century CE and became a cash crop grown by slave labour taken from Africa by the triangular trade and exported to England along with cotton and sugar.

Where is Tobacco Grown?

Tobacco is mainly grown in Brazil, Turkey, Mallari, China and Indonesia.  Tobacco is a destructive crop which depletes soils of its nutrients which contributes to deforestation and soil erosion.  Cultivation requires high levels of pesticides and fertilisers which pollute water sources. 

Tobacco Companies Reap the Profits of Tobacco not the Farmers. 

Tobacco farmers are often in debt due to contract farming where the tobacco company agrees to buy the crop and will provide seeds and pesticide at above market prices as a loan to be deducted against the value of the crop.  Contract farming often results in the cost of producing the crop being higher than the money received for it. 

Tobacco farming is a back breaking and dangerous occupation where the workers sometimes as young as five years old are exposed to high levels of pesticides and fertilisers.  Workers are at risk of the ‘green tobacco sickness’ caused by absorbing nicotine through the skin through handling the tobacco plant.

Why do People Smoke?

1.3 billion Inhabitants of our planet smoke, most of which live in poor or developing countries where advertising and government restrictions are weaker.  Young adults are the most prevalent group that take up smoking and they replenish the number of smokers lost to fatal diseases.  

Most take up smoking for reasons including individualism, fashion, peer pressure, a sign of adulthood, rebellion and a way to deal with the stresses of rites of passage. 

In the past tobacco companies advertised directly to this age group but this is now prohibited now influences are more subtle such as point of sale displays, pack design, celebrity endorsements, music, film, and internet social media or by direct advertising by smoking related products such as cigarette papers.


Nicotine is very addictive and reaches the brain within ten seconds causing dopamine to be released which is experienced as a high.  The user develops a chemical dependency on nicotine and suffers from withdrawal symptoms.  Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include headaches, nicotine cravings and anxiety. 

The feeling of pleasure attained through smoking a cigarette is merely the relief of satisfying nicotine withdrawal symptoms. 

Cigarette use in itself is not calming it just relieves the withdrawal symptom of anxiety.

Humans are creatures of habit and will mark daily behaviour with lighting up.  The smoker will develop ritualistic behaviours such as a cigarette when they wake up, during work breaks, after meals and last thing before going to bed.


Smokers can be recognised by their smell and nicotine stained fingers, prolonged smoking makes their skin more lined and they age quicker than non-smokers.


A smoker’s health can be damaged by smoking and they are more likely to be afflicted with colds, flu, high blood pressure discoloured or loose teeth, poor circulation, shortness of breath and coughing.

Smoking is also a contributing factor for heart attacks, strokes, cancers including lung cancer, emphysema and chronic pulmonary disease.


Smoking is an expensive habit and contributes to poverty and families can lose an adult bringing in income from disease or death.

Life Expectancy

Only half of smokers will live to see their seventieth birthday compared with 8/10 non-smokers.   Smoking shortens life expectancy by on average ten years however if a smoker stops before the age of forty they can extend their life by around nine years. 

How to Stop Smoking

Smoking is a choice but if you want to stop then these tips helped me to stop smoking.

  • Set a date to stop smoking
  • Have a final cigarette and tell yourself that this is your last.
  • Destroy all smoking paraphernalia from your life.
  • Understand that smoking just cures the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine addiction.
  • Tell family, friends and colleagues that you have stopped and they will offer encouragement and support.
  • Use nicotine patches for around two weeks, this will lesson cravings and also make you afraid to smoke as this could cause an overdose.
  • Identify your ‘ritual’ cigarettes and change your behaviour.
  • Calculate how much money you will save from not smoking each month and plan what you will do with the extra income.
  • Notice how your taste and smell improve and how bad smokers smell.
  • Keep a note of how many days, weeks and months you have been without a cigarette and regularly tell friends, family members and colleagues how long you have been an ex-smoker.
  • Enjoy how your lungs are clearer and you are not so breathless.

What are your views on smoking?  Let us know by leaving a comment below. 

Keywords: Smoking, Tobacco, Nicotine, How to Stop Smoking, Why People Smoke