8 Essential Steps to Help You Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking can be difficult, but hundreds of people do it every day. If you are planning to be one of them, then follow the tips below!
- Find your reason
To get motivated, you need a powerful reason to quit. This could be to protect your family from secondhand smoke, set a good example for your children, have better health, or save money!
When looking for a reason, think of the immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting for all smokers. These are listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as follows:
- Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
- 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
- 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
- 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
- 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.
- 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.
- Set a quit date
It is advised to set a date to quit rather than stopping smoking out of the blue. This gives you time to set up a plan and prepare yourself. It’s like taking an exam; you get to study.
- Avoid Triggers
Triggers are the people, places, things, and situations that set off your urge to smoke. These are some hints to help.
- Throw away your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays if you haven’t already.
- Avoid caffeine, which can make you feel jittery.
- Spend time with non-smokers.
- Go to places where smoking isn’t allowed.
- Get plenty of rest and eat healthy. Being tired can trigger you to smoke. Don’t diet as too much deprivation can backfire easily.
- Change your routine to avoid the things you might associate with smoking.
- Consider a nicotine replacement therapy
When you stop smoking, you may feel some withdrawal symptoms of nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes) such as headaches, irritability and ill temper. Craving can become tough. Nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gums and lozenges deliver the nicotine your body is craving in a much safer form than cigarettes. Over time, you reduce the amount of nicotine you consume until you have hopefully curbed the craving entirely. E-cigarettes and Vape have had a lot of attention recently as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, more studies are needed to determine their safety.
- Learn about smoking cessation medications
There are two approved smoking cessation medications that help with tobacco craving and ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. They also decrease the pleasure that people get from smoking. These are Varenicline (Champix®) & Bupropion (Zyban® or Wellbutrin®), they work by altering chemicals in your brain that are related to nicotine craving. Don’t use without a prescription from your doctor, as they might not be right for you if you have certain health conditions.
- Try quitting apps
There are numerous smoking apps out there on Play Store and App Store. They can help make the day-to-day manageable until you reach your end goal of becoming smoke-free.
Being active can curb nicotine cravings and ease some withdrawal symptoms. When you want to reach for a cigarette, distract yourself by moving. Even mild exercise helps.
- Call for reinforcements
Seek support of a family member, friend or join a support group. Your Family Physician can assess your overall health and clarify the risks related to smoking, in addition to giving you all the help you need during your journey to quit, given you have the will to succeed.
Also, the Ministry of Health has a helpline (16805) that provides support and counseling.