Let's not start Stoptober with preachy facts. We could throw facts at you until the cows come home, but why use numbers when a picture can say a thousand words?
We were given access to a photographic investigation of sets of twins - with rather different smoking habits - and it has revealed just how much cigarettes can age the skin.
The results are shocking.
Twin on the left has smoked for 17 years longer than the twin on the right. Note the differences in lower lid bags and upper and lower lid wrinkles
Researchers identified pairs of identical twins, at the annual Twin Days Festival, Ohio, who differed by smoking history.
Each pair comprised either of a smoker and a non-smoker or two smokers - one of whom had been smoking for at least five years longer than their sibling.
The twin on the right is a smoker and the twin on the left is a non-smoker. Note the differences in nasolabial folds (lines between the nose and mouth)
A professional photographer took close-up photographs of each twin's face and each set of siblings also completed questionnaires regarding their medical and lifestyle histories.
Without knowledge of the twins' smoking history, plastic surgeons analysed the twins' facial features, including grading of wrinkles and age-related facial features. The goal was to identify "specific components of facial ageing" that were affected by smoking.
Their conclusion? Smokers looked older - with more sagging of the upper eyelids; bags of the lower eyelids and under the eyes; twins who smoked also had higher scores for facial wrinkles (including more pronounced nasolabial folds (lines between the nose and mouth), wrinkling of the upper and lower lips and sagging jowls).
Twin on the left is a non-smoker and the twin on the right smoked for 29 years. Note the difference in periorbital ageing
Both twins are smokers. The twin on the right has smoked for 14 years longer than his brother
Among twins with more than five years' difference in smoking history, the average difference in smoking history was 13 years.
Twins with a longer duration of smoking had worse scores for bags on the lower lids and under the eyes and lower lip wrinkles.
Results are published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Understanding what drives you to want or need a cigarette, or knowing what drives your desire to smoke is key to helping you quit. Once you know what they are, you can try and avoid these situations (or at least be prepared for them)
Exercise is the answer to many problems, helping with confidence issues, fitness levels, as well as, happiness. Being active will help you quit the dreaded habit, since it will not only make you feel great, but it will also help you to take your mind of any cravings
Making an effort to de-stress and calm your mind is key to being able to cut the cravings. Many people smoke to help relieve their stress, but if you can de-stress without cigarettes then you will be on the slow and steady pathway to successfully quitting the habit. You will eventually realise, that mentally, you don’t need a cigarette
It is really important to speak up when you are having a bad day, and are struggling to stay off cigarettes. Often talking things through will help you understand how you are feeling, and what it is that is driving you need or want a cigarette. Once you know what’s behind your cravings, you can go about making changes without the need for a cigarette. This will also help you, mentally and physically, realise that you don’t really need it
People often use alternative nicotine products to help cut the cravings. They come in a range of products, from gum and patches, through to inhalers and sweets. You can also use e-cigarettes such as Socialites which allow you to vape without the 4,000 harmful chemicals or 60 known carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes. While not a quitting aid, they are a much healthier alternative to smoking and have a higher success rate as users still get to experience the hand-to-mouth action associated with smoking traditional cigarettes
It’s really important when trying to quit that you have a support network around you, so that you don’t feel alone. It’s often good to club together and quit with friends or family members who smoke, as together you can be successful and reach your goal
With the money you have saved from reducing the amount you smoke (or if you have managed to quit all together), it’s a good idea to treat or reward yourself with something nice as an incentive to stay off cigarettes in the future
Many people often try the replacement technique, replacing cigarettes for something else; often food. This is a good idea, so long as the smoking habit is being replaced with something healthy or productive, such as learning a new skill
Often making a list of reasons of why you want to quit and putting them up in different areas of your flat or house is a good way to keep you on track and ultimately off the cigarettes. It acts as a reminder of why you are quitting and importantly reminds you of your overall goal
It’s often a good idea to tell co-workers, and other people around you, that you are planning to quit smoking so they can help encourage you and spur you on. If they see that you are flagging they will be able to get you back on track