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Two More Reasons To Quit Smoking
Excerpt By Rose Palazzolo,

Smokers feel the urge to smoke in many situations, whether it be anger, sadness or depression. Two new studies give smokers more reasons to quit.

Smokers celebrate with a smoke, soothe a nervous moment with a smoke and even calm down a fit of anger and sometimes sadness by pulling out a cigarette and lighting up.

A new study, in the August issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research, says the tendency to light up when feelings of anger, joy and sadness appear is the reason why people who may be described as "emotional" have a harder time quitting. They say smokers who want to quit would benefit greatly from cessation programs that deal with the emotions of smoking.

"Anger and negative affect may trigger smoking in some people, a process that may explain the higher relapse rates following smoking cessation that have been reported for high-hostile rather than low-hostile and for depressed rather than non-depressed individuals," says the study's lead author Ralph Delfino, of the University of California, Irvine.

Improvements Seen After Short Time

And another study points out what appear to be fast health improvements from quitting or even decreasing in smoking.

The study, in the same issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research by researchers in Sweden, says that improvements in heart disease risk factors can be seen within just weeks of quitting or reducing cigarette smoking.

Nine weeks into the study, 33 people who had taken up to four months to quit smoking showed an average 17 percent reduction in carbon monoxide levels in their blood. The drop, the authors say, lessens heart disease risks factors as high cholesterol and low blood oxygen capacity.

Keeping people on the road to smoking less or eventually quitting altogether has a lot to do with tapping into the emotions behind the urge to light up, say the authors of both studies. One of the keys, they say, is helping the smoker identify the triggers.

"What is an important lesson in this finding is that not everyone smokes for the same reasons," said Edwin Fisher, professor of psychology at the University of Washington and author of the American Lung Association's 7 Steps to a Smoke-free Life.

A Smoking Divide by Gender

The California study also says that the impulse to smoke by "emotional" people may differ, according to gender. The authors say that men were more likely to smoke when angry and sad and women, while also likely to smoke when angry, add a smoke to happy celebrations but not necessarily to sad ones.

"The urge to smoke when angry turned out to be a bit stronger in men but the urge was there for both," said Delfino. "The difference is only slight in magnitude."

Researchers monitored 25 women and 35 male smokers over two 24-hour periods. They monitored their blood pressure and asked them to write in their diary before and after smoking.

"The bottom line of this study is that both men and women feel the urge to smoke for emotional reasons," Delfino said. "Smoking cessation programs should take into account these emotion triggers."

Previous studies have shown that women appear to be more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine and have a slower metabolic clearance of nicotine from their bodies than do men, according to the National Women's Health Information Center, a service of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The metabolic differences in men and women may be the reason why the genders reach for a smoke at different emotional times, the authors noted.

Reference Source 104


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