A review of the research shows us that overall, about 16-17% of first responders smoke cigarettes. Our own research has about the same result, with an additional 7% of participants stating that they avoid smoking “often,” meaning that they do occasionally smoke.
Research shows that an increase in perceived stress leads to an increase in the dependence on nicotine. Also, stress levels of smokers are consistently shown to be higher than in nonsmokers. Mood changes and exacerbation of stress in smokers go hand-in-hand with the daily pattern of smoking cigarettes. And the greater the level of perceived stress, the more cigarettes per day the person tends to smoke.
Sadly, because smokers are dependent on nicotine to feel “normal,” it becomes much harder to break that addiction and to get back on the road to better health, physically and emotionally. During times of stress, smoking a cigarette can feel almost necessary, and because of the physical addiction properties in addition to the social and lifestyle factors associated with smoking, it has been said that quitting smoking can be as difficult as quitting heroin! The physical effects of smoking on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems make it much harder to combat the effects of stress on those same systems. If you smoke, seek help to quit.
- Do I smoke to help me cope with uncomfortable situations?
- When did I begin to smoke and why?
- What am I going to do, today, to kick the habit?
If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you. If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365. Always free. Always confidential.