Diving after smoking cessation

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Angelo Farina

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I did never smoke. When I started diving (in 1975) a diver was basically first a free diver. Then occasionally using CC pure oxygen rebreathers. And even more occasionally using compressed air in twin tanks (for very deep diving).
As most of diving was in apnoea, smoking was impeding it almost completely, hence divers were all no-smokers.
However my father had been a big smoker (up to three packets per day), until it stopped entirely at 40 years old.
Then he started diving with me when he was 50, and continued until he was 65. At 62 he had some medical problems, which required a visit from a lung specialist. I was with him while the doctor was explaining his findings and commenting on the lung images. The conclusion was that it was urgent that my father did stop smoking, as the lungs were severly dirty. My father told the doctor that he was not smoking anymore since 22 years....
The doctor replied that 22 years are not enough for cleaning lungs, and that the damage done while smoking when young was now impossibile to recover from...
Conclusions:
1) stop smoking ASAP and never start again
2) the damage already done cannot be entirely recovered
3) This will strongly limit your performances as a free diver
4) This, instead, will not impede you to become a good scuba diver, as reduced lung performances are of minor relevance when breathing a compressed gas with an high partial pressure of oxygen.
 

jadairiii

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I'm a non-smoker but grew up in a home where both my mom and dad were pretty heavy smokers and both of which smoked from the age of about 16 on. My mom could never quit, regardless of medical diagnoses and of want. But my dad, at the age of 65, over 50 years of smoking, quit overnight, after a bout of congestive heart failure. Never touched them again. But he told me he craved them every day.

You will quit if you want to quit. Good luck to you, but it has nothing to do with luck.
 

ginti

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4) This, instead, will not impede you to become a good scuba diver, as reduced lung performances are of minor relevance when breathing a compressed gas with an high partial pressure of oxygen.
Well, it depends on how high the partial pressure is... or not?

To clarify, the thread is 4 years old, and the OP isn't on SB since November 2018... @Alucard483 opened the thread again, and he is speaking of 106m deep dives! Are you sure that reduced lungs performances are of minor relevance at these depths?
 

Alucard483

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Thank you everyone for the words of encouragement on quitting. And as someone said earlier I can put all that smoking money into diving and training.

I really do understand the inherent risk and the science behind the reasoning. Nobody wants a pocket of air to burst their lung, but at the same time I feel like this is kind of akin to driving overly aggressive in traffic. Sure, there is ALWAYS that inherent risk of collision, and driving in such a manner DOES increase that risk, but simply driving aggressive does not mean that you will absolutely crash and die. I am not trying to be cocky, disrespectful or insulting, its just that I often notice that the "rules" (and not just for diving) are often written in a VERY black and white perspective that bars people from doing things over POSSIBLE outcomes rather than certain outcomes. I'm not trying to cheat the system, I am just trying to get a clean perspective from honest people that don't have any skin in it themselves. If you ask a doctor about drugs you will get a different answer than the one from the drug dealer, and a different one than that of the actual user. And like we have seen earlier in this thread, in some countries, a lot of divers smoke. I am just trying to find out how much of this is actually true, versus some "reefer madness" type warning over the possible outcomes.

And again, I do understand the science and that the risk increases with depth, so at the end of the day, if 100m is just not doable, I can live with that. I am just viewing it like this, I have a sports car, I drive it at 100-110 on the regular which just so happens to be against the rules and gives of a certain risk factor, but I would consider doing 200mph to much of a risk even though professional drivers do it all the time. Tech diving is anything deeper than 45m correct? I am viewing being a smoker diving to a wreck at 55-65m akin to driving driving 20mph over the speed limit. What I am trying to figure out here is if a 100m would figuratively be doing 200mph on a public road.

The OP does not reveal his age, how much smoking and over what amount of time and any other health issues.
Im 32 and have been smoking daily for about 12 years. I smoked lightly in high school and college but it picked up at work. I am a chef and sadly most of the time you do not get a break unless it is to smoke. I started because I was the only one on the whole shift that was never allowed a break. I would say I smoke about 2 packs a WEEK?

While on the 106m depth route, you will face many obstacles way bigger than the cigarettes. Since (I believe that) science cannot give any definitive answer to this issue, and since there are so many harder obstacles in your way, I would quit if I were you.
Can you name some of these challenges I will need to overcome? I know there will be things like decompression stops and additional certs for things like gas mixing, but I would love if you could detail anything critical that I have most likely failed to consider. Also, I do assume you mean quit smoking, not give up on my dreams of diving a wreck? Or are you giving me a legit warning that I should not be investing myself and money into this because I will absolutely fail?
 

RobPNW

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My nephew quit smoking and started vaping instead. Some people including myself, would think that's just switching one bad habit for another. But I have since changed my opinion on that. When he was smoking, I never really saw him coughing up much other than a morning smoker's cough kind of thing. When he switched to vaping, he was having coughing fits all day long for weeks and I thought "sheesh, this is worse", until I realized what was happening. After about 3 months, I never saw him cough again. It seems that the vape fluid was loosening up the surface crud in his lungs and was helping moving it out through coughing. Basically, it seemed to be expediting the process. Now with that said, there's also chemicals in vape juice that are bad as well. He has since switched to an all natural and organic juice maker, and one that has none of that "PG" stuff in it.
 

ginti

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Can you name some of these challenges I will need to overcome? I know there will be things like decompression stops and additional certs for things like gas mixing, but I would love if you could detail anything critical that I have most likely failed to consider.
First, you need to have the proper equipment (most likely a drysuit, and probably a rebreather, + several stages), you need to know it and you need to be proficient with it.

Then, you need very good basic skills (with and without several stages):
- buoyancy control (possibly within 0.5m at any depth)
- trim
- finning techniques
- emergency skills (valve drill, sharing drill, SMB deployment)

You also need to have very good "advanced" skills, like stage management, bottom rotation, etc. Most likely, you will need to be able to hold deco stops in the blue and with current, with all that heavy equipment.

You also need to have a very good awareness; if you want to go with a team, it translates into a very high tea awareness, while if you want to go solo, it's going to be only self-awareness and a lot of redundancy.

Lastly, you need to be aware of the risks, which means that you'll have to study a bit of basic physics and physiology.

Also, I do assume you mean quit smoking, not give up on my dreams of diving a wreck? Or are you giving me a legit warning that I should not be investing myself and money into this because I will absolutely fail?
A suggestion to stop diving and continue smoking from a non-smoking diver like me is simply not possible :) I am suggesting:
- quit smoking
- be aware that you'll find some barriers harder than "quit smoking"
- don't let these barriers stop you: overcome these barriers as well
- dive those deep wrecks
 

ginti

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Then, you need very good basic skills (with and without several stages):
- buoyancy control (possibly within 0.5m at any depth)
- trim
- finning techniques
- emergency skills (valve drill, sharing drill, SMB deployment)
By the way, @Alucard483, if deep diving is your goal I strongly suggest starting your diving career with a tec-instructor or a rec-instructor who often and consistently performs tec dives. The reason is that basic skills are fairly easy if you learn from the beginning, but they can become extremely hard if you first learn diving with "bad" habits; and since tec-divers and rec-divers often have a very different concept of "bad".

This is off-topic here, but I thought it made sense to advise you; if you want to go deeper in this subject, feel free to open another thread :)
 

Alucard483

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Thank you! These are the exact kind of things that need to know so I can really focus on. I really plan on applying myself this summer in preparation for the trip so hearing specific challenges that I will need to be aware of is most helpful. It sounds like my ambitions of tech diver although, not shattered, definitely seem unrealistic to achieve all in one summer.
 

ginti

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Thank you! These are the exact kind of things that need to know so I can really focus on. I really plan on applying myself this summer in preparation for the trip so hearing specific challenges that I will need to be aware of is most helpful. It sounds like my ambitions of tech diver although, not shattered, definitely seem unrealistic to achieve all in one summer.
Did you want to do it in just one summer?

To be honest with you, I believe that all agencies require a minimum number of dives for deep tec diving; here are some examples:
- TDI requires 100 dives, 25 of which deeper than 30m (to be honest with you, 25 dives deeper than 30m is a ridiculously low standard - no serious instructor will accept you without more experience)
- IANTD 200 dives, of which 25 between 42 and 60m:
- GUE requires 100 dives for the tec1 course, further 25 non-training dives (at tec1 range) for the tec2, and further 25 dives at tec2 level to go to 90m [tec1 dives are deco dives at depth of no more than 50m, tec2 dives are deco dives more complex than tec1 at depth of no more than 75m], for a total of at least 150 dives:

Frankly speaking, I believe it is quite hard to reach these depths in less than 300 dives, and I still think 300 is in the lower end of the spectrum, but it depends a lot on you, on how talented you are and on how much money you are willing to spend.

Also, keep in mind the entire process is expensive; if you spread the money over several years, that is probably ok for most people with a slightly over the average salary. If you want to do it fast, you need to have a significant income.
 

Angelo Farina

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I cannot really comment on diving down to more than 100m... Smoking or not!
I am a purely recreational diver. My recreational diving cert is for a max depth of 50m, with air in twin tanks, with deco stops and with a buddy (not solo).
Using hypoxic mixtures at depth, and doing deco with hyperoxic mixtures, is definitely tech diving.
I did never feel the need to exceed significantly the recreational limits for which I am certified.
I can testify that many smokers (my friends or my students) did dive within these limits (50m, air, with deco) without any trouble, and I did not find any correlation between the occurrence of accidents with smoking. Accidents are instead strongly correlated with stupidity, arrogance and lack of compliance to safety rules.
If you really want to go beyond recreational limits, for reaching depths beyond 100m, I think that you must first pass through a careful medical and attitudinal evaluation. Only after this you should start the long training necessary for reaching those depths (consider at least 2 or 3 years). You must also accept some sort of Pareto principle: 80% of people can be successfully trained and certified for diving to 20m, but just 20% of people can be trained and certified for diving at 80m.
In all my life I did meet only TWO divers who were safe diving beyond 100m: Raimondo Bucher and his wife Luciana Civico.
I really hope that you are one of the few possessing the required physical and psychological features. But be prepared to accept that you are not. I am not, definitely: the few times I did exceed 50m I really risked my life, and in the end I did learn to respect my limits.
 
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