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    Proven Strategies to Quit Smoking

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    Is Smoking Dragging You Down?

    10 reasons to quit smoking beyond the big health threats.

    4. Social pressures continued...

    Joyce Wilde, a small business owner and former smoker in Pittsburgh, remembers feeling marginalized when she smoked heavily. "Smoking really messed with my self-concept," Wilde tells WebMD. "I usually hid somewhere and smoked so no one would see me. The experience of smoking embarrassed me and I felt weakened by it, both physically and emotionally."

    The reasons for the increasing unpopularity of smoking and diminished social standing of those who continue to light up likely has roots in our increased understanding of the health implications of smoking, not just for the smoker, but for those breathing in secondhand smoke as well.

    "The reason for [clean indoor air] ordinances is to protect the healthy nonsmoker from the known danger of toxins of secondhand smoke," Fiore says. "It's not just the inconvenience of it makes my clothes smell bad when I go to get a drink, it's that risk from the carcinogens and side stream smoke, some of which are at higher concentrations than direct smoke."

    5. Finding a mate

    Anyone who has perused the dating advertisements in papers, magazines or online, has seen more than his or her fair share of the phrase, "No smokers, please."

    Long after quitting smoking on a daily basis, Wilde found herself once again reaching for cigarettes during the stressful time of her divorce. She was a decade older than when she last smoked and at the time, living in Southern California where she felt the competition in the singles market was stiff. Smoking, she says, only added to the challenge of finding a new mate after her marriage ended.

    "After I crossed 40, the dating scene became harder because my peers were looking at people much younger, so if you add smoking into that, it's even harder," Wilde says.

    That's not surprising to Fiore. "There is a general sense that I'd rather be with someone who did not smell like a dirty ashtray," he says.

    6. Impotence

    If smoking generally adds a hurdle to finding a new partner, impotence sure doesn't help. Yet smoking increases the chances of impotence dramatically for men by affecting blood vessels, including those that must dilate in order for an erection to occur.

    "It's been said in the scientific literature that one of the most powerful messages to teenage boys is that not only does it make you smell like an ashtray and no one wants to kiss a smoker, but it can cause impotence or impact your erections. It's a message that is frequently used to motivate adolescent boys to step away from cigarettes," Fiore says.

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