Many people start the New Year off with a resolution to quit smoking. That’s great! Good for you! (No matter what time of year you decide to quit smoking, it’s great! Hooray for you!) As an ex-smoker, I know how hard it is to quit cigarettes.
I thought I’d share with you some real-life advice, from someone who’s been there. Hopefully, this will offer you some encouragement, too. But first, I have to digress so that I can tell you why this is on my mind right now.
For those of you who know me, you know that my husband recently had emergency quadruple cardiac bypass surgery at the age of 56. The surgeon said that the severe blockage in his arteries was caused by smoking. My husband was told that if he had a heart attack it would be fatal; if he had surgery the surgery would only be effective if he stopped smoking.
That’s what it had to come to- open heart surgery and the very real threat of an early demise- to make my husband quit smoking. Quit he did. Although he’s still recovering form the bypass, the doctors say that he’s doing well. (I know that most smokers are aware of the health risks and think, “That won’t happen to me,” but I thought I’d throw the story in anyway.)
It’s often suggested that sucking on a piece of hard candy every time you have an urge to light a cigarette is helpful in quitting smoking. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of this method.
Pros of having a hard candy instead of a cigarette:
Fixation satisfaction. As many people know, smoking is called an ‘oral fixation’. The thought here is that one’s oral fixation can be satisfied without the use of cigarettes. By popping a hard candy into your mouth, your oral fixation will be quelled, thus reducing or eliminating the craving for/smoking of cigarettes.
Distraction. Many smokers smoke partly out of nervous habit, so having something to do besides smoking is important. When a craving for a cigarette arises (and cravings will arise), distract yourself by choosing from a wide array of hard candies. (It’s best to buy a Pick-a-Mix type bag of candy for this.) By the time you’ve sifted through the bag, made a choice, unwrapped it, and thrown away the wrapper the physical urge will have subsided.
Cardio-vascular health. I’m not a doctor but I think it’s safe to say that hard candy has nowhere near the ill effects on the cardio-vascular system as cigarettes do. Better a hard candy than a cigarette? Yes.
Cons of having a hard candy instead of a cigarette:
Weight gain. Most smokers who are considering quitting cigarettes are concerned about gaining weight. If you smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, that’s 30 cigarettes. If you have 30 hard candies a day, at 20 calories each, that’s an increase of 600 calories a day. At the end of one month, a daily increase of 600 calories will result in noticeable weight gain.
Tooth decay. All that sugar is not good for your teeth. The sugar from hard candy coats your teeth because it’s in your mouth for such an extended period of time. If you have 30 pieces of hard candy a day and brush your teeth only twice a day, you’re a cavity waiting to happen.
Diabetes. Aka: sugar. I’m not sure that 30 pieces of hard candy a day would cause diabetes in someone who’s not predisposed to it, but I do know that as a nation we should cut down on our sugar consumption. As for those who think that sugar-free hard candy might be the answer, I understand that it takes a lot less than 30 to have a laxative effect.
Trading one bad habit for another. You may think that you’re solving the problem, but you’re just creating another. Some people are OK with this, as they feel that the constant candy-sucking is a vast improvement from smoking.
You can have candy any time. It reminds me of the joke where a woman is smoking cigarettes in order to wean herself off the nicotine gum. You can’t say that you’re using candy to quit cigarettes in say, an elevator where you couldn’t have had a cigarette anyway.
There are good and bad points to using hard candy to quit cigarettes. Everyone’s different and you have to know what will work best for you.
If you plan on quitting smoking (or are in the process of quitting), honestly evaluate whether or not this method would be helpful or hurtful to you. Either way, good luck!