Health Smart

Ways to Cure the Craving to Light Up

Today, smoking may not be considered en vogue, especially here in Southern California, where toking on tobacco is banned in most public places.

Still, statistics show over 45 million people in the United States smoke.

But there could be a cure for the craving to light up.

Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy.

The Surgeon General’s warning says so right on the pack, but those addicted to taking a toke insist the deadly reality and scary statistics don’t snuff out the physical urge to light up.

“I can probably trace it back to 6 or 7 years old picking up my dad’s pack,” says Ole Ward.

Like many smokers, Ward, 27, started smoking to look cool, but warns that by high school, his body craved and needed the nicotine.

“It’s no way to live your life,” Ward says.

From hypnosis to over-the-counter solutions like gum, patches, and lozenges, addiction experts advise all of these can help kick the habit.

But they caution that over 90 percent of quitters start up again.

“I think it’s one of the hardest addictions to quit,” says Tami Scarcella, the founder of New Leaf Interventions.

Scarcella says that, just like for drug addicts, an actual intervention could help a loved one lay off the butts for good.

“They will go through physical withdrawals from not having the nicotine as well as well there are headaches, body aches,” Scarcella warns.

Plus, he adds that there are prescription medications like Chantix that can curb the fascination with the flame.

“It blocks those receptors that people feel when they smoke. It gets them light-headed and calms them down, all those things they feel,” Scarcella says.

Another way to put down the pack…

“For me it’s that oral fixation, so it’s inhaling,” Ward says.

Ward encourages inhaling electronic cigarettes and paying attention to stress cues.

“A lot of times when you want to smoke you are stressed or something is on your mind and that creates a feeling in your stomach, so I found putting food in there settles it,” according to Ward.

Doctors say go ahead — be a quitter — becasue breaking up with tobacco does a body good.

Addiction experts say that while you are quitting, tobacco cravings usually last about five minutes at a time but will fade.

So when that feeling hits, go for a walk, grab a snack, call a friend. There are healthy ways to kick that craving.