What do you know about tobacco and health? If you're a user, have you thought about quitting? Here you will find tips on how to stop smoking or using snus, and links to further advice and support on how to quit your habit.
You can also test your nicotine use and get some insight into your tobacco habit. While most successful quitters manage to give up on their own, a little guidance can sometimes be needed to get over obstacles and through difficult patches. The Student Health Service can offer consultations to support you in your endeavours. You can also come to speak to us if you're still undecided and weighing up the pros and cons, if you need to work on your motivation or if you just want some information.
How serious is my tobacco habit?
Here you can test your tobacco habit. The questionnaire consists of 13 questions.
The benefits of quitting ...
...after 20 minutes:The blood pressure and pulse drops.
... after 8 hours:The oxygen content of the blood rises and your condition improves.
... after 48 hours: Your senses of smell and taste improve.
... after 2-12 weeks:Your blood circulates more freely and your lungs become more efficient.
... after 1 year: You've saved 13,000 kronor (assuming you smoke a pack a day). Your home is cleaner, and your clothes, carpets and curtains no longer smell of smoke.
... after 5 years: You have halved your risk of lung cancer.
- Think about and note down the positive and negative aspects of smoking. Make a list of the pros and cons - trivial or important in your life - of smoking or using snus. This is your list and it's up to you what it looks like.
- Are you facing any particular health risks?
- The yearly cost. If you could put the money you would have spent on cigarettes aside and save it up for a special treat for when you finally manage to quit - what would you spend it on?
- Keep a log of your smoking habits. When do you smoke? How much? Which cigarettes are the hardest to say no to? Think about the situations or places in which you usually smoke or use snus. This is a useful way to visibilise your habits and identify the situations that are best avoided once you have quit. It can be a good idea to prepare some diversionary activities for times when you're doing things normally associated with cigarettes or snus.
- Calculate your nicotine dependency (this can give you an idea of the support you need to succeed).
- Decide a date for quitting 2 to 4 weeks in advance. In the meantime, smoke only outdoors or at a specially designated place inside, leaving your coffee cup, newspaper or mobile where they are. This will help you break the habit and ease down on the smoking.
- Get the support you need: a nicotine substitute, perhaps, or a quit-smoking class? And don't forget the quit-smoking hotline, 020-84 00 00.
- It's wise to tell others about your intentions, but make sure to choose people who can encourage and support you in your efforts.
Time to quit!
- Throw away all forms of tobacco and associated objects - cigarettes, lighters, etc.
- Show resolve! All withdrawal symptoms will pass in time, so don't give in to temptation.
- Take small steps at first - "I'll get by until lunch".
- Withdrawal symptoms, such as tiredness, concentration difficulties, depression, dizziness, are harmless and will eventually pass.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Eat regularly, ideally fruit and vegetables.
- Get some exercise.
- When the urge strikes, think about how it feels, what it makes you think and how long it lasts. It can be good to know that the sensation usually only lasts a few minutes.
- Think of alternative ways to occupy yourself when you feel like a cigarette or a pinch of snus.
- Resisting the urge makes you feel good and can give you the strength to continue. You might even feel proud with yourself, so why not treat yourself to a little reward?
Think of the gains
A little while after quitting, it's worth thinking about the gains you've made. Maybe you feel that the urge to smoke or use snus is less frequent than it once was or that you're generally fitter than before. Whatever they are, you have every reason to feel proud. What other positive effects has quitting had? Write down what comes to mind, or tell someone.
The risk of relapse is always there after quitting. This doesn't mean that you've failed or that you can't do it. You can start again, perhaps with new strategies and more help. Many people have to make several attempts at quitting before they succeed in doing so for good.
Support is a big help, and you can always arrange a consultation with the nurses at the Student Health Service. The first sessions might be about why you want to quit, how to do it, what your habits are like and how you feel about them. You can also keep a tobacco diary and note down every cigarette or portion of snus you take and how it tastes and feels. Then, when the day to quit arrives, you might talk about what has been easy and what has been difficult, and the strategy options open to you. If necessary, you can also get a prescription for nicotine medication to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.
Facts about tobacco use
By tobacco use is meant the inhaling of tobacco smoke (cigarettes, pipes, etc.) or the smokeless intake of nicotine (snus, dipping tobacco, etc.). Smoking is the single largest preventable risk factor for premature death in the world.
Few young people smoke in Sweden compared with ten years ago, and compared with their contemporaries in many other European countries. Twenty-three per cent of boys and 7 per cent of girls in their second year of upper-secondary school take snus, which for the boys represents a steady decrease since 2004, when 32 per cent used snus. All in all, 40 per cent of the boys and 43 per cent of the girls in this age group claim smoke and/or use snus.
Nicotine is an alkaloid and the substance in tobacco that is the main, but not sole, cause of the development and intensity of the addiction. Nicotine induces a very powerful physiological and psychological dependency, and studies show that people addicted to nicotine are very likely to become addicted to alcohol and other drugs. A cigarette contains 6-11 mg of nicotine, of which the smoker takes in 1-3 mg regardless of what it says on the packet.
The term "low tar cigarette" is actually a bluff. Tiny pores are made in the cigarette paper to increase the oxygen content in the inhaled smoke. However, smokers usually block these pores with their fingers and take more frequent and deeper drags to get the desired nicotine levels into their blood. For this reason, these cigarettes pose no less of a health risk than the normal strength brands.
Scientists and doctors have been aware of the correlation between smoking and illness since the mid 1960s, and we now know that tobacco smoke affects pretty much every organ of the body. One out of every two smokers dies an early death and loses on average ten years of their life expectancy. Smokers are less fit, have worse dental health, weaker skeletons and poorer complexions.
Smoking increases the risk of around 60 diagnoses and is the predominant cause of many public health diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, Crohn's disease, stomach and duodenal ulcers. It is estimated that twenty per cent of all cancers in Sweden are caused by smoking. It is also estimated that ninety per cent of lung cancer cases and over twenty per cent of all cardiovascular diseases are smoking-related. Smoking is mainly known for causing damage after years of the habit, but even young smokers sometimes develop respiratory problems. A smoker takes, on average, eight days' more sick leave a year than a non-smoker .
Passive smoking also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, bronchial disorders, and irritation in the nose, eyes and throat. At least 75 per cent of the smoke from a cigarette enters the air, harming children and adults sharing the same space. Avoid smoking indoors, both at home and at work.
One in five men and a growing proportion of women take snus/snuff on a daily basis, and many people alternate between it and cigarettes. Snus/snuff is a hotly debated form of tobacco use, and while much more research needs to be done on its effects, some serious studies in the past few years have given us enough information to advise against it.
In 2005, Karolinska Institutet compiled all available research on snus, and found, amongst other things, that it was carcinogenic (Cnattingius, 2005). The strongest evidence is for cancer of the pancreas, but later studies have added cancer of the stomach and oesophagus (the latter form being three times higher than in non-tobacco users). Snus also causes receding gums and damage to the mucous membranes of the mouth. And although there is no increase in risk of heart attack for snus-users, they are more likely to die of one. There is, however, no evidence for an increase in the propensity for atherosclerosis.
According to a study by Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University, taking snus while pregnant can lead to miscarriage and still-birth.
2010:10 (A tobacco-free municipality: A guide to developing tobacco-prevention programmes) (2010), the National Institute of Public Health. www.tobaksfakta.org. Here you can find information about how the powerful tobacco industry, which generates an estimated total profit of 170 billion dollars a year, circumvents restrictions in the marketing of tobacco products and obstructs policies and restrictions it considers harmful to its interests.
Tobacco Industry Interference with Tobacco Control (2008), WHO. Read about how the tobacco industry uses its financial muscle to lobby decision-makers, market its wares, and manipulate the media. Its aims are to question scientific findings on the harmful effects of tobacco and to steer governments towards a more liberal attitude towards it. The report also describes how the tobacco industry tries to enhance its public image by sponsoring a range of social and cultural events.
Berusning på schemat (in Swedish). The National Institute of Public Health, ISBN: 978-91-7257-734-3
Underlag till Nationell handlingsplan mot tobak (FHI 1999)