Getting smokers across the line
The concept of self care entails greater personal responsibility for our health, and for smokers, quitting is the ultimate in self care. In many cases, smokers need the support of family, friends, health professionals and cessation aids to make the change. But the change is worth the battle.
Health authorities have put considerable effort into encouraging smokers to quit their deadly habit. Graphic and confronting advertisements have been used to educate the community, and in 2011, the ‘Every cigarette you don’t smoke is doing you good’ campaign has been widely promoted. The Federal Government is also proposing to introduce plain package restrictions on the sale of tobacco in Australia.
Smoking has long been linked to a number of serious health problems, as detailed by Australia’s online health information service, HealthInsite:
“Smoking is an important risk factor for the three diseases that cause most deaths in Australia: heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. It is responsible for around 80% of all lung cancer deaths and 20% of all cancer deaths. Smoking has also been linked to cancers of the mouth, bladder, kidney, stomach and cervix, among others. Smokers are also at increased risk of having reduced lung function from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Using tobacco has been linked to a variety of other conditions, such as diabetes, peptic ulcers, some vision problems, and back pain. Smoking in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth.”
Smoking continues to be Australia’s largest preventable cause of death. Although the rates of smoking have dropped from more than 30% in the early 1980’s to 18% in 2007, there are still approximately 15,000 deaths per year resulting from smoking. [i]
Several attempts are often needed to quit, and the chances of success are increased by using a combination of approaches.[ii]
The ‘quitnow’ website has some useful strategies for quitting. It recommends preparing a quit plan which will help you to:
- Identify the reasons you want to quit
- Create your quitting plan
- Put your plan into action
According to quitnow, the best services available to help you to quit include:
You can confidentially call the Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) for professional help and support. Quitline will send you a free quit pack including tools and information to get the best possible start.
This is an online tool. By answering questions about your smoking habits and lifestyle, QuitCoach will give you ideas and suggestions that will be most useful to you.
GP or pharmacist
Healthcare professionals can help you to determine the best quitting method for you, and give you the advice and support to encourage the best result.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement products, including patches and gum, work by reducing withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, mood swings and anxiety. NRT is proven to have a significant impact in reducing smoking. A Cochrane review concluded that NRT almost doubles the success rate of long term abstinence.[iii] The use of NRT alongside support like telephone help services is likely to make positive inroads to quitting.
There are other medications which reduce cravings while you quit. They are prescription medicines, so consult your doctor for more information.
Some people prefer to try to quit ‘cold turkey’; however this is less effective than using NRT.
Whichever path you choose to take on your road to quitting, we hope it gets you across the line.
[i] Preventative Health Taskforce, Tobacco control in Australia: Making smoking history, pg 1
[ii] Preventative Health Taskforce, Tobacco control in Australia: Making smoking history, pg 33
[iii] Stead LF, Perera R, Bullen C, Mant D, Lancaster T. Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation, Review 2008, Issue 1, Art.No: CD000146. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD000146.pub3.