Is Smoking One Cigarette a Day an Addiction?
Smokers are 14 times more at risk of Covid-19
How to get rid of nicotine cravings?
The World Health Organization defines smoking one cigarette a day regularly as addiction. Stating that cigarette addicts carry a 14 times higher risk of Covid-19, experts point out that smoking 1 cigarette a day and even being exposed to cigarette smoke has negative effects on health. The anxiety concerned the risk of getting the infection has reduced smoking. Experts worldwide recommend to turn to hobbies such as reading books, watching movies and painting in order to cope with the negative emotions that occur during the smoking quitting period.
May 31st is known as No Smoking Day or No Tabacco Day worldwide. Üsküdar University NPİSTANBUL Brain Hospital Clinical Psychologist Simge Alevsacanlar Cucu, MD, shared her medical opinion on smoking addiction.
Two Signs Are Enough.
Indicating that at least two of the following conditions must be present in order to talk about smoking addiction Simge Alevsacanlar Cucu listed them:
• last 12 month of smoking to a greater extent or longer than desired in a monthly period;
• persistent desire and unsuccessful attempts to quit or control smoking;
• spending a lot of time on smoking-related activities;
• intense desire to smoke, inability to fulfill the main responsibilities required by the position at work, school or home due to smoking;
• smoking cigarettes regardless of physical, mental and/or social problems due to smoking;
• reducing or quitting some social work-related activities due to smoking;
• smoking in potentially dangerous situations;
• increasing tobacco use due to the development of tolerance to cigarette use or experiencing no effect after smoking;
• experiencing abstinence when not smoking.
The First Trigger
Pointing out that the World Health Organization defines smoking one cigarette a day regularly as addiction, Simge Alevsacanlar Cucu said, "Studies show that the nicotine in a single cigarette is enough to saturate the nicotine receptors in the human brain. Dr. Joseph R. DiFranza states that as a result of his study, nicotine changes the structure and function of the brain within one day after the first use, and that nicotine-related changes in the brain can trigger addiction even by one cigarette. Nicotine addiction starts with the first cigarette and one moth later craving symptoms appear, even if the person does not smoke. For this reason, even a single cigarette a day creates a risk in terms of developing addiction. In addition, studies show that smoking one cigarette a day and even being exposed to cigarette smoke has a negative effect on health and increases the possibility of experiencing heart and lung diseases.
Stating that there is also a distinction between smokers, the psychiatrist said, “There are obviously differences between those, who smoke every day on a regulary basis and those who smoke occasionally; those, who smoke one cigarette every day the last 30 days and those, who smoke less frequently than every day in the last 30 days, and those who smoke occasionally. In addition, the World Health Organization considers people who have smoked 100 cigarettes during their lifetime as cigarette addicts. For this reason, social smoking can be considered as an addiction too.
14 Times Higher Risk
Psychologist Simge Cucu points out that during the pandemic period people are showing tendency towards addictive behaviors, experience difficulty in coping with anxiety, fear, stress and getting away from these emotions. Conducted studies show that behavioral addictions tend to increase especially in this period. Since smokers are more susceptible to Covid-19, they can get the infection faster, and have the disease more severely and more difficult. Studies show that cigarette addicts have 14 times more risk against Covid-19. Negative emotions such as stress and boredom are triggers for smoking behavior, as well as the damage of smoking to the upper respiratory tract, its negative effects on the immune system.
Pandemic and Smoking
Pandemic can be regarded as a motivation to quit smoking, because quitting smoking in order to overcome or avoid the disease easier. It is also important to stay away from reminders in the first period of quitting smoking and avoid smoking environments. That can help people in quitting smoking by reducing possible triggers as there will be less exposure to friends-smokers and smoking environments.
Hobbies and Smoking
Emphasizing the importance of discovering and applying alternative methods to cope with negative emotions in this process, Clinical Psychologist Simge Alevsaçanlar Cucu said, “To cope with both negative emotions and cigarette cravings we recommend reading books, listening to audiobooks, watching movies and videos of your interest, socializing with friends and family members, painting, puzzle making, doing sports, etc. Any activity even at home, such as acquiring hobbies, attending online courses and seminars will help to cease cigarette use. If needed, its is important to seek for a medical support.