Ex Smoker: Antoni Maroto, Catalonia, Spain

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Why did you start smoking?
I started smoking, because I thought it was cool. It made me feel less insecure as a person. It felt like it was the perfect accessory when I had to socialize.

For how long did you smoke before you quit?
I was a smoker for 10 years before I quit. I started at 20 and quit at 30.

How many times did you try to quit?
I lost count of all the times I tried to quit. I do recall two failed attempts that lasted approximately 6 months each.

What made you start smoking again?
In those two aforementioned failed attempts, I went back to smoking while drinking at parties and believing that just one cigarette would not matter. But, of course, it did.

How did you manage to quit eventually?
I quit cold turkey. Previously, I had been smoking less and less, and reading about quitting and staying quit. That lasted some months until I had the last one at 7pm, April 25, 2014.

What did the process of quitting look like?
The first month, I felt I was nervous all the time and I could not concentrate on anything at all. I had some wild mood changes as well. But the benefits of quitting started as soon as 3 days after I put off my last cigarette.

What were the things that challenged you, while quitting?
The first thing I thought was that I would need to learn how to live again without tobacco, since it had been attached to many situations for 10 years. I was afraid of not being able to handle it.

In what way did your life change after quitting?
I started to feel more alive and less stressed. My body started to ask for physical exercise. My self-esteem improved greatly. I started to enjoy a more satisfactory sexual life. I felt cleaner and healthier. My closest ones were really grateful I stopped damaging my health.

Were there any side effects caused by this process?
I would say there were barely any side effects. We all know food smells and taste better when you quit smoking, so… yes, my appetite increased. That made me gain some weight, but not much: 4 kilograms.

Who supported you in the process? What helped you?
My partner was the greatest support I had when I decided to quit. Family and friends were very supportive as well. Indeed, some time later, some of my friends decided to quit smoking too. Reading and discussing about it was really helpful.

A lot of people don’t take that in mind, but how hard is it to quit smoking and what was the emotional cost you had to pay while doing it?
When you quit smoking, you have to think that you are making one of the best decisions in your life. Fear of failing and/or not being able to handle it can be very powerful; but if you believe in yourself, you will succeed. After all, why would it be bad for you to quit?

What would you advise people who would want to quit smoking?
My advice for someone who wants to quit smoking is to search for information on how to do it and, then, do it. It is important to know that any moment is fine to start. You do not have to choose a special day or wait until life feels better. There is no perfect moment; and people who have just quit and feel they had to choose a better moment, there is no such moment. Unless you decide to create it yourself: don’t wait to be happy, be happy from right now.

Looking back, what were the biggest harms the smoking did to you and your family?
The biggest harm was that tobacco had started to accelerate my aging: worse teeth than average, more gray hair, more wrinkles, and less energy. I could not handle physical exercise as much as I can do now. Plus that fear that sometimes would pop up and say when I lit a cigarette: will this one start the process of a fatal disease? That type of thinking is not healthy either.

What makes you happy?
Being alive makes me happy. I love life and I want to live a long healthy one.

5 Ways to Celebrate the World No Tobacco Day

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Do you know that today is the World No Tobacco day? It was first introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1987 and it’s purpose is to spread awareness among the smokers emphasising on the side effects and health complications caused by the tobacco chewing and smoking. The WHO is encouraging countries to implement strict and effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption levels. The World no tobacco day is celebrated annually on May 31st worldwide.

To honour the day we decided to share our 5 ways to celebrate the World No Tobacco Day:

  • Every single year the World Health Organization comes up with a different initiative to celebrate the day. This year they call the countries to act against illеgal tobacco trade by signing the “Protocol to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products”. You can now also watch the short video specially made to promote the campaign. You can help spread it by sharing it with your friends online via social networks or your website.

  • Begin a one-month challenge to quit smoking starting on May 31st. Every day smoke less and less and at the end of the month you might be able to go out without cigarettes. You can ask to join you as many friends as you could convince to take the challenge and make it even kind of a competition. You can even reward yourself with a spa treat or a fancy restaurant dinner.
  • And here is another suggestion for a mini campaign – one that you can start yourself! Call a friend and offer him or her to exchange his/her daily pack of cigarettes with two tickets for theater play, opera, museum or concert. And the tickets are two so you could go… together and enjoy a great evening/day without tobacco but with great culture experience.
  • Another idea is to grab your smartphone and make a short motivational video to convince a smoker to quit. No matter if you are an ex-smoker or even a person that has never had a single cigarette in his lifetime. The support even from strangers is highly effective to quit smoking so don’t hide and show your sincere sympathy to the ones that are still smoking.
  • It is a scientific fact that cigarette smoke pollutes the air. So if you really believe everyone should care about the planet and nature show your care with small steps – do not smoke on the world no tobacco day (and the days after this), instead you can plant a tree or a flower in your garden. And in addition – share this moment with friends or family to make it even more memorable.

As you can see there are many ways to cеlebrate the world no tobacco day. We are sure you can figure out even more. So we challenge you to act and do even a small deed to make a difference. Because… we can not change the world for a day but we can make it better than the place it was yesterday.

Ex Smokers Share: 20 Reasons Why Smoking Made Me Worry

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Many smokers have their own reasons (or is it “excuses”) not to quit smoking, although they are aware of the negative and often lethal impact of cigarettes. Maybe not until they start to feel the effects of smoking, either directly, or when it steals the life of a loved one. And then they start sharing…

We follow many discussions on the About.com Smoking Cessation support forum and the one regarding why people quit and what scared them most about smoking really grabbed us. Some of the comments were more than “touchy” and we were glad to see that About.com’s smoking cessation expert Terry Martin has collected the most sensible of them.

1) “I was worried that the bones holding my teeth in were shrinking because I was smoking and I want to eat a steak when I am 80.”

2) “I was wheezing so badly all the time it scared the bejesus out of me.”

3) “I was terrified of getting cancer.”

4) “My mom died of emphysema.  She came back to haunt me last year.  There she was, looking back at me in my bathroom mirror every morning, frowning at me as I lit my first cigarette of the day.
“Ok, so it really wasn’t a ghost.  It was just me, turning into my mother.  That’s .mostly a good thing, but I realized it was just a matter of time until I started wheezing and gasping for air.  No thanks.  I don’t want to go through that, and I don’t want to put my kids through that.”

5) “I was afraid of getting wrinkles, of having a prune mouth, large pores, yellow-er teeth and dark color on my lips.”

6) “Looking into the future, I didn’t want a doctor to tell me, “Well if you had quit smoking you wouldn’t have ~fill in the blank~“.  I smoked for 34 years and I knew that if I continued to smoke I would develop smoke related illnesses.  I just hope I quit in time.”

7) “My father died of lung cancer 8 years ago, and for the last 18 months or so I haven’t been able to sleep normally; I was worried sick of ending up the same way.”

8) “I hate worrying about getting too close to people for fear that they smell cigarette smoke.”

9) “Welllllll……..  I did something I’m not very proud of.  I read my daughter’s diary.  I was really surprised about the things I read in there.  I thought most 14 year old girls would be writing about boys and school stuff. Mine was writing about her fears.  She sees tobacco for what it is-a drug.  The words she wrote will haunt me forever.  She wrote that she prays every night for her mom to stop doing drugs.  Quite a wake up call huh?”

10) “I couldn’t keep waking up at 2 a.m. praying to God that I wouldn’t die and leave my children without a Mother. My heart would be racing and I’d be covered in sweat.”

111) “I was 27 when I quit smoking, had been a smoker for over 12 years, and I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack in my sleep. I have a physical job and the shortness of breath became too much for me to handle.  Coupled with the strange feelings I would get shooting down my left arm, it forced me to start thinking about quitting.”

12) “I quit smoking because I cannot walk up a flight of stairs.  I have arteries that are clogged.  Was operated on in december of ’05 and had stents put in each leg.  Doctor told me to quit, but I didn’t and within 6 months had the pain in my legs again.”

13) “Before I quit smoking, I could not breathe without gasping, was on three different bronchial inhalers about six times a day, and was on the road to using oxygen.  I just felt horrible.  My brother sat me down and really talked turkey about how he felt I would not get a chance to spend  my pension when it comes next year.  Then, the following day his wife, my best friend, had a mild heart attack.  This women is fit, she walks, works in her garden and mine… although she is a smoker.   This scared me into seeing the doctor and getting a prescription for Zyban.”

14) “I quit because I was told on the 3rd of April that if I didn’t I would not celebrate my 50th birthday. I’m 46 with coronary artery disease.  I’ve had one stroke, one heart attack, and my chest x-ray looks like a train wreck. I’ve had pneumonia 30+ times in my life and both my parents died from complications from smoking.”

15) “I quit because I was tired of living in fear that I would find myself dying young from a smoking-related illness.”

16) “I was still a smoker after my recent double bypass.  I had to go to a different hospital after leaving the cardio specialty unit because my breathing was so affected and oxygen levels were insufficient without inhalation therapy.  I spent an extra 9 days in rehab and was still going out to the smoking area for an occasional cigarette.  I started takingChantix while still in the hospital and I really think that this is what helped me with the cravings we all suffer when trying to quit.

17) “I actually quit because of another family member’s heart condition.  My cousin called me the same week that I was having my procedure with a message from her husband.  He wanted me to know that he was going back for a repeat double bypass after only 12 years since the first one and that he blamed the continued smoking for that early repeat.”

18) “I got to thinking about all the surgical chest pain that I had recently suffered and was still suffering with when I sneezed or coughed and decided that I finally had a tangible reason to actually put an end to my 45+ years of smoking.  It didn’t really take very long after that to give it up.”

19) “I worry about the statistic that says smoking kills about half of all long-term smokers.  I’m already a long-term smoker, and those odds really scare me.”

And what were your reasons, dear Ex Smoker? Please, share with us in the comments bellow!

If Your Lungs Could Talk – an amazing example from Thailand

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Tobacco harms the health, the treasury, and the spirit of Thailand. Every year more than 74600 of it’s people are killed by tobacco-caused disease, while more than 265000 children and more than 10581000 adults continue to use tobacco each day.

These stats from the World Tobacco Atlas look scary and they really should. This is why Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) and the advertising agency BBDO Bangkok teamed up with the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University for the ‘Message from the Lungs’ campaign. They successfully extracted black substance from smokers’ donated lungs, made it into ink and showed it in public, so current and potential smokers could see how smoking can harm their lungs and their bodies, and also convince them to quit sooner.

The result: many current smokers decided to quit and THPF’s quit smoking program’s participants increased by 500% compared to previous year.

So watch the video, think about it and help a smoker! #helpaquitter

Ex Smoker App Helps Mobile Users Quit Smoking

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Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide and data says that up to 6 million lives could be saved each year if smokers get help to quit their habit. One simple mobile application has taken the first brave steps towards the bigger goal – Ex Smoker, aims to help mobile users who want to quit smoking.

The Problem

There are more than 1 billion smokers worldwide and nearly 6 million people die each year, WHO data shows. According to recent surveys, more than ⅔ of current smokers want to completely stop smoking, but barely 5% succeed. And to many of the successful quitters finding the right support (friends, relatives, support groups, etc.) has been crucial.

The Solution

The leading Bulgarian pharmaceutical company Sopharma Ltd. has created a mobile application that works as a personal digital companion for quitters.

The application has been launched in the beginning of March and is available for both iOS and Android devices. Users receive daily tips on health and mental habits to cope with the stress of quitting and global statistics show the total impact of the app on ex-smokers worldwide. The application collects personal stats and achievements of the quitters – days not smoking, money saved, lifetime extended, tar in lungs avoided, etc.

Ex Smoker can be used separately or during a smoking cessation therapy with Tabex®, recently announced by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine to be ‘cost-effective front-line treatment for tobacco dependency with a superior efficacy than nicotine-replacement therapy’. The Tabex® Companion part of the app helps those who choose to use Tabex® as a smoking cessation aid to schedule their intake and to set daily reminders.

“We know how hard is to quit smoking so we have included a strong social element in Ex Smoker. One of the main goals of the application is to create a community of quitters and ex-smokers who will support one another while fighting the bad habit”, said Tanya Konstantinova, Digital Project Manager at Sopharma. Users could follow their progress and share their achievements with other peers on their own social media profiles.

The Data

Since its launch in early March, the app has been installed by near 1000 users on iOS and Android devices. About 80% of the installs are in Bulgaria and Russia, and since the app is only available in English and Bulgarian languages so far, Sopharma are already working on additional translations.

According to global stats of the application, for the first month Ex Smoker users have saved nearly 280 million EUR in total by not smoking more than 125 000 cigarettes. They have extended their lives by total of 1,5 million minutes which is approximately 1000 days.

‘The facts from the data show where there is a correlation between which markets Sopharma is present and strong in, combined with where there are a lot of smokers (Bulgaria, Russia & Poland)’, says Mark Rogers of FuturistLabs, the developer of Ex Smoker.

The Attitude

Ex Smoker is the second application in the mobile environment of Sopharma. More than a year ago the company launched its first health application Zdravi App (‘Zdravi’ in Bulgarian means ‘Healthy’) that now has more than 13000 downloads on App Store and Google Play.

‘We think of ourselves as a ‘digitally responsible company’ and this has been one of the main lines in our communications strategy for the last few years,’ said Elena Krasteva, Corporate Communications Manager at Sopharma. She added, ‘Since the launch of Zdravi in the early 2014 we have been dedicated to spreading the idea of healthy living through all of our digital channels, and the Ex Smoker application is the next headliner in our long-term policy in this direction’.

So far there has been no advertisement for the app outside of Bulgaria so the large quantity of international users shows that consumers are looking for solutions like this and the topic of quitting smoking is very relevant among mobile users across the globe.

Additional links:

Health Apps are the new digital trend

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Almost two-thirds (66%) of Americans would use a mobile app to manage health-related issues, Makovsky’s fifth annual Pulse of Online Health survey found. Millennials are leading the digital health charge, as they are more than twice as likely to express interest in using a mobile app to manage their health compared to those Americans 66 and older. Looks like health apps are the new digital trend

Top interests when downloading and using mobile health apps reflect proactive desires for informative, functional and interactive programs:

  • Tracking diet/nutrition (47%)
    Medication reminders (46%)
    Tracking symptoms (45%), and
    Tracking physical activity (44%).

In fact more than six in 10 (63%) Americans with gastrointestinal conditions would use mobile health apps to track diet and nutrition; among obese or overweight consumers, 61 percent would make use of a mobile app to communicate with a doctor; half (50%) of those with pulmonary conditions would use a mobile app for medication reminders; and 52 percent of Americans with cardiovascular issues would use a mobile app to track sleeping patterns.

Not least, Sopharma has already developed two mobile apps for users who believe their health is important enough and want to make their lives better with their mobile companions. Learn more about Zdravi and Ex-Smoker now!

The State of California launched “Wake Up” – an anti-e-cigarette campaign

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Twenty-five years after launching the first anti-smoking advertisements in the state, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Monday, March 23, 2015, premiered a series of television, digital, and outdoor ads in a new campaign called “Wake Up,” as part of its educational effort to inform the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

The advertising campaign includes two television (TV) ads that feature songs from the 1950s and 60s and images portraying the health risks of e-cigarettes. One TV ad underscores the e-cigarette industry’s use of candy flavored ‘e-juice’ and products that entice the next generation to become addicted to nicotine.

The second TV spot emphasizes the dangers and addictiveness of e-cigarettes, while exposing the fact that big tobacco companies are in the e-cigarette business. E-cigarettes are largely unregulated at the federal level and companies are not required to disclose what is in their products or how they are made.

According to Time.com, the new ads air just two months after the California Department of Health (CDPH) declared e-cigarettes a public health risk, and warned Californians to stay away from them. The new ads are part of the agency’s new campaign called “Wake Up,” which suggests e-cigarettes are just another mass marketed product with serious health consequences.

Globally, the intensifying activity in the relatively new industry is being driven by research showing a growth market. According to a recent US University of California study, 466 brands of e-cigarettes and 7,764 flavoured liquids are being sold online while between August, 2012, and January 2014, an average 10.5 e-cig brands and 242 flavours per month were introduced.

The number of e-cigarette users in the UK has soared, from 700,000 in 2012, to 2.1m in 2014 according to Action for Smoking on Health (ASH). The US investment bank Wells Fargo has predicted that e-cigarettes could be outselling conventional cigarettes within a decade