Give up the Auld Fags

World-No-Tobacco-Day-Photo1  world no tobacco day



 Trying to quit smoking is probably as old as smoking itself.  This is because instinctively we know that smoking is inherently bad for the human condition.  We know it causes lung cancer, heart attacks, emphysema and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD).  In addition it is responsible for birth defects, erectile dysfunction, poor learning and memory impairment.

So why do we smoke?

Most people who smoke start in their teens and by the time they reach young adulthood are strongly addicted.  Peer pressure, a need to look sophisticated and mature and to experiment, are the reasons we start in the first place.  However later on in life we continue to smoke as an escape from anxiety and stress of social, economic and personal problems.  We are convinced that they help us relax and cope with hard times.  When we are not in need we continue to smoke out of habit and some will even cite weight loss as a reason to continue and a very common reason to continue is the love of smoking.

Why Quit?

The most obvious answer is for health reasons.  Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the western world causing cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and brain disease.  A frequently asked question is; is it too late to reverse the effects of smoking?  Studies have shown that quitting at the age of 30 approximately, reduces the chances of dying from smoking related diseases by more than 90&.  If quitting at 50 years that risk is reduced by 50%.  Quitting at 60 years+ shows benefits when compared to those who continue to smoke.

Other reasons we would want to quit are financial.  Now that a pack of cigarettes are €10 and the average smoker would consume a pack per day, then that equates to €3650 in one year and that is out of your nett pay, not gross.

Another benefit is looks.  Smoking accelerated the aging process of the skin and hair.  Add this to bad breath, stained teeth and fingers and the smell from hair and clothes and you’ll see why quitting is good for you.

How to quit?

It is very common for smokers to make general attempts to quit before finally succeeding.  We’ve all heard the joke from the wise old sage “giving up smoking is easy, I’ve done it loads of times”.  It is universally accepted that quitting is extremely difficult and it should never be underestimated the credit that is due to those that do.  It may well be the more difficult think they overcome in their lives.

In order to quit a person must really want to quit.  When a smoker has come to this point then he/she must stop smoking and then the battle to stay off the smoking.  This can be unassisted or assisted.

Unassisted is usually one of two methods

  1. Cold turkey
  2. Cut down to quit

Retrospective studies have shown that these are a popular and relatively successful way of quitting.

There are many assisted methods and the following is a brief overview and incomplete.

Medications are a very commonly used form to assist smokers in staging off the cigarettes.  This can vary from

  1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy, which comes in many forms e.g. patches, lozenges, gum, sprays and inhalers. This method has its fair share of success.
  2. Antidepressants such as Zyban is still in use.
  3. Champix has been reasonably successful in the past number of years and it works by decreasing the urge to smoke and reducing withdrawal symptoms.

Helping smokers to quit and stay off cigarettes has become an industry all in its own and so there are numerous other approaches including, hypnotherapy, motivational lectures, self-help apps and a variety of reading material.

What now?

Whatever method works for you is the start of your new life.  World No Tobacco Day is May 31st, take the pledge.  So best of luck and contact your health professional for advice and help.

Dr Joe Hartnett, Dr Suzanne Kelly

The Grove Medical Centre



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