Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, and yet it causes one in ten deaths among adults. In 2005, tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths, or an average of one death every six seconds. At the current rate, the death toll is projected to reach more than eight million annually by 2030 and a total of up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.
Last month the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced World No Tobacco Day to highlight the dangers of cigarettes and their effects on younger generations. The WHO also revealed shocking statistics, such as tobacco kills 50 per cent of its users. This means, of the 1.3 billion smokers alive today, 650 million will be killed by tobacco.

1. Why is smoking addictive?
Nicotine is a psychoactive drug, which the body accepts like a “normal” messenger substance stimulating the electrical activity of the brain. It has calming effects, especially at times of stress. Smoking is a physical addiction, which is almost as strong as that of heroin, since nicotine also induces structural changes in the brain of smokers. When nicotine is suddenly withdrawn, normal functions in the brain and other parts of the body are disturbed resulting in withdrawal symptoms.
2. What damage does smoking do to the body?
Smoking causes many premature deaths from diseases that are largely preventable:Heart disease: Smoking is responsible for 30 per cent of all heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths. Cancer: At least 30 per cent of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Lung disease: More than 80 per cent of all lung problems, mainly chronic bronchitis and emphysema can be avoided by not smoking. Peripheral artery disease: Smoking is the main cause of peripheral artery occlusion, and this is extremely dangerous when associated with diabetes.
Premature ageing of the skin: It also causes premature wrinkling of the skin of the face. On average, smokers look five years older than non-smokers of the same age.

Others: It also contributes to stomach ulcers and osteoporosis, reduces female fertility and causes premature births and infant death.

3. Why can smoking be even worse for men?
Younger and middle-aged men are at a higher risk for premature arteriosclerosis and heart attacks than women of the same age. Therefore, male gender may be considered a risk factor in itself. Smoking does not just add on some risk, it multiplies the chances of developing heart disease.
As smoking causes damage to blood vessels, it also impairs erections in middle-aged and older men and may affect the quality of their sperm. It can have the effect of sedating sperm and can impair their mobility.

4. What are the best ways to quit smoking?
You mean other than Smoke Away? All kidding aside, Self-help is, in fact, the only way to quit smoking. Others can give advice and support, but in the end it is up to the individual. To succeed you must have sufficient motivation to carry yourself through the task ahead. At least two-thirds of smokers are likely to find it difficult to give up smoking. However, it is not their fault that they find it difficult. They do not continue smoking because they are weak-willed or irresponsible, but because they are addicted. There are various motivations for trying to quit smoking:
The most important is concern for health and well-being. The onset of minor ailments, such as coughs, sore throats, breathlessness, indigestion, and feeling generally less well and less fit, are early signs that the body has had enough.
Some smokers come to resent the feeling of being controlled by their need to smoke, and are motivated to stop by their desire to regain control and self-mastery.
To help make up your mind about stopping, make a list of all the reasons that are important for you. Make a similar list of all the positive benefits of smoking you will miss and any withdrawal difficulties you anticipate when you stop. Weigh up the lists and tell yourself that any suffering you may endure will be temporary and may last only a few weeks
You must be prepared to work hard at stopping smoking. Here are the steps to take:
Plan to stop on a particular day. Choose a time when you are not under too much pressure from other tasks and when you can avoid situations that you know will make it more difficult. Don’t put it off for too long unless you have to. Make plans to keep away from smokers and other tempting situations after you have stopped.
Plan to stop smoking completely on your target day. Cutting down gradually is less effective. Telling too many people that you are going to stop is not always helpful. To be constantly asked how you are getting along can bring the subject to your mind just when you are learning not to think about it
Prepare on a small card a list of your reasons for stopping. You may need to have this in your pocket or close at hand if things get difficult and your motivation falters after you have stopped. On the night before your target day, make sure all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters are removed from your home. Of course the makers of Smoke Away would love for you to try our product, but we realize that sometimes you have to go through hell with a lot of different methods before you come to see us. That’s ok. Just as long as you quit in the end!

5. How can quitting smoking be made easier?
There is no drug for smoking that can cure your problem for you without you having to make any effort. However, there are some treatments that you can use to aid your self-help:
Counseling and support, either in single sessions or in groups. It is also important that partners do not smoke or stop smoking at the same time. Otherwise, the smoker gets “re-infected” time and again.
Hypnosis and acupuncture may help some people, but not everyone is susceptible to these techniques.
Nicotine substitution like patches or chewing gum can help overcoming the habit of lighting a cigarette, and the dose can be tapered down over time.
No one is born as a smoker. In all drug addictions, psychosocial factors determine the initial exposures. Addiction may subsequently develop if the drug has effects that people like or find rewarding. Younger people may think that it is “cool” to smoke because it makes them appear more “grown-up”. Ultimately, it is up to you to finally decide to quit smoking, on your terms.