Well, it is a new year - time to reflect on the past year and ponder improvements in the upcoming year! This is the time when many people start thinking about lifestyle changes to improve their health. So let's talk smoking cessation. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. The good news is that quitting will improve your health no matter how old you are, or how long or how much you have smoked; the damage is reversible! Smoking cessation can be hard, and changing behaviours can create a lot of mixed feelings, confusion and doubt.
Take time to reflect....are you ready to quit? Are you willing and able? How confident are you that you will succeed? What are your triggers? Why do you smoke? Is it as a stress reliever? Do you enjoy it? Is it just out of habit? What are the pros and cons of stopping? What is your motivation?
Once you have an understanding, make a plan!
S = set a quit date, begin making changes to your behaviours
T = tell family, friends, coworkers about your plan
A= anticipate or plan ahead for the tough times to prevent relapse
R = remove all tobacco products from your home, vehicle and work
T = talk to your health care professional about aides to help you quit
There are numerous nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) that Health Canada has approved and are proven to be safe: gum, lozenges, patches, inhalers or oral medications. They all help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The latest is an e-cigarette or vaping. There are no standards or labeling requirements for the e-cigarette, and we do not know what is in them and if they are safe to use. The combination of NRT and getting support from trained professionals will double your chances of success.
The most common withdrawal symptoms when stopping smoking are insomnia, anger, irritability, weight gain, and depression. It is best to recognize the symptoms and have a plan in place and support around you. On average, people gain less than 10 pounds. Keep in mind that health risks for smoking 1 pack/day are equal to health problems caused by carrying an extra 125lbs (57kg) of weight!
Benefits of quitting are almost immediate:
It takes a person, on average, 7 attempts before they successfully quit smoking. Think of each slip up as a learning opportunity; what led me to slip? What can I do differently next time? Smoking cessation requires life-long maintenance and will be worth gaining longer/healthier years.
Submitted by Danielle Longtin, Registered Nurse at 13th Ave Clinic with Dr. Scholtz