Are You Still Smoking?

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

A recent study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles revealed that the number of American registered nurses who smoke decreased by 36% between 2007 and 2011. That's great news, but one would expect that healthcare providers would smoke less than the general public. In fact, among healthcare professionals, only 2% of doctors smoke, and it seems that healthcare providers are more likely to have never smoked at all than the general population. 

But what about diabetics? 

We all know that diabetes can lead to any number of cardiovascular and vascular complications, and smoking can only serve to increase the risks of such problems. 

The Surgeon General has stated very clearly that smoking kills an average of 480,000 Americans each year. Smoking can lead to rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, inflammation, poor immune function and erectile dysfunction. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

And although smoking has not been shown to actually cause diabetes, we all know that those living with diabetes should certainly not smoke. 

So why do some diabetics prefer to continue to smoke despite all warnings that it will lead to premature illness or death? 

Stress

Stress is certainly a major reason why we do things that aren't necessarily healthy. We stop exercising because of stress (even though the research shows that exercise can actually help to reduce stress.) We eat poorly under stress, and we make food choices that we might not make were we less anxious and worried. Some of us eat more when under stress, and most of us probably reach for the wrong kinds of foods when we're upset. We might even eat just to calm ourselves down and "stuff" our feelings. 

Smoking is similar. Nicotine can be very "grounding" and calming, and just the thought of a drag from a cigarette can calm the nerves. Still, the chemicals, additives, tar and other aspects of cigarettes and tobacco that cause it to be unhealthy are reason enough to reach for a different form of relaxation. 

In the 21st century, there are so many ways to decrease stress. From yoga and meditation to coaching and other stress reduction techniques, there are ways to combat stress without picking up a cigarette. 

Diabetic? You Need To Stop

If you're diabetic and still smoking, you just have to stop. Even though you may be working hard to keep your sugars under control, the effects of smoking tobacco will continue to undermine your efforts. Smoking can do nothing but  harm you, and as a diabetic you need to consistently be looking for ways to improve your health, decrease the risk of complications, and manifest the most robust health possible. 

Smoking cessation programs abound in every area of the country. Whether you seek the help of a doctor, a hypnotist, an acupuncturist or a smoking cessation specialist, quitting smoking should be one of your most important goals. 

Let's face it. If you're diabetic and you're smoking, you're setting yourself up for future problems that you can otherwise avoid. 

Be conscientious. Be smart. Be proactive. Be a non-smoker. And if you can't do it alone, ask for help. 

You owe it to yourself. Quit now. You won't regret it.