According to Cancer Council Australia, smoking can lead to 15 different types of cancers. It’s also known that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known to be cancer causing. There is some good news, as soon as you quit, there are immediate and long-term health benefits.
To get to the nitty gritty of how to best quit smoking, we chat to Cancer Council SA’s Quitline Counsellor, David Schmidt. He says kicking off your smoke-free journey should begin with a clear plan of attack in place. “A lot of people wake up one morning and decide they want to quit, but going in with a plan is a way that will help you have success.”
Pick a ‘quit day’ and try to stick to it. It’s a good idea to tell friends and family about your plan so you can stay accountable.
Having clear motivations outlined in the beginning as to why you want to quit is also a very helpful tactic that will encourage you stay on track. Mr Schmidt says putting these motivations in place from the get go will help support your future self when challenges arise.
Motivations to kick the habit:
When nicotine enters the blood system, a ‘feel good’ effect occurs thanks to the brain’s ‘reward system’. The body then craves this drug when it’s removed from our system, as it believes something good is missing.
It’s common within the first few days of putting down the smokes to feel irritable, tired and tense. However, this reaction is only temporary and usually within one or two weeks these symptoms disappear.
Knowing your triggers as you begin to quit is important to take note of. There may be certain situations that will make you more likely to reach for a cigarette, like during your coffee break or when you feel stressed. So it’s best to be aware of this and prepare for it.
If the urge arises, try ‘the four D’s:
Mr Schmidt says nicotine replacement therapy is a good tool to use if quitting is becoming too stressful. Using an appropriate level of nicotine replacement therapy will reduce your cravings and make quitting more bearable.
The patches, lozenges and gum are available at a reduced cost through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), you’ll just need a prescription from your doctor. Otherwise, all of these products are available over the counter at pharmacies and supermarkets.
Each time you resist the urge to smoke, why not treat yourself and spend some of the money you would have otherwise used for smoking? It’s estimated if you smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, each year you’d be forking out around $10,000!
Having a strong support system around you is very important. Chatting to friends and family who have been through the challenges of quitting smoking can be helpful when times are tough.
Try not to worry if you don’t have this support network around, there are other options out there. Mr Schmidt says, “We have a web chat service where you can log on to or a lot of people get the support of a GP or another health practitioner.”
Finally, it’s ok to fail! Some people take a couple of attempts to completely kick the habit, so don’t be disheartened or throw in the towel if you slip up. Learning from your experience and sticking to your goals is what’s important.
From more information or to chat to a Quitline Counsellor, call 13 78 48.
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