We all know smoking is bad for your health but it can be hard to kick this habit.
Over 19,000 Australians die every year due to smoking related causes. There are over 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette, with at least 43 known to cause cancer. The health impacts are detrimental, including lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart disease and stroke, as well as cancers of the mouth, pancreas, bladder and cervix. It can also cause erectile dysfunction, ageing of the skin, hair loss, blindness, gingivitis, osteoporosis and early menopause. Kids suffer too, with increased risks of ear infections, respiratory infections, asthma, meningitis and cot death.
There are so many benefits of quitting – within a few days, your smell and taste improves, within weeks your wound healing and breathing improves, and within a year your heart disease risk is halved. And cigarettes are expensive so you also benefit financially.
Current treatment guidelines demonstrate the following works to help with quitting smoking:
- Talking to your GP and having active follow up – triples the success rate at 12 months
- Nicotine replacement therapy – gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers – doubles the success rate at 12 months
- Medications to reduce cravings and withdrawals e.g. Zyban, Nortriptyline, Varenicline – doubles the success rate at 12 months
- Nurse-led group sessions – 80% more effective at 12 months
- Cognitive behaviour therapy with individual therapists or in group sessions – 50% more effective at 12 months
- Acceptance and commitment therapy – 30% more effective at 12 months
- Telephone-based counselling – 25% more effective at 12 months
- Positive psychotherapy – 25% more effective at 6 months
- Mindfulness – 25% more effective at 4 months
- Self-management – the 4Ds are often helpful – Delay the urge to smoke, Deep breath 3 times, Drink water slowly and Do something else, such as exercise.
The evidence for nicotine e-cigarettes is still building.
Common barriers to quitting include social habit or peer pressure, withdrawal symptoms, weight gain, stress and fear of failure. These are all readily addressable with the appropriate medical and social support systems.
Many resources are available, including Quitline (131848), www.quit.org.au, www.quitnow.info.au, www.OxyGen.org.au, www.100incontrol.com and www.mhcs.health.nsw.gov.au. Try the QuitNow! and SmokeFree Apps as well.