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What are the reasons to quit smoking?

Australia’s leading cause and effect of preventable death is smoking.

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Tobacco smoke can contain more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which can cause cancer. The effects of smoking on the body are almost all-encompassing. Every cigarette that you smoke is a threat to your health.

You will notice the changes in your body as soon you stop smoking.

While quitting smoking can be hard, there are many other reasons to quit. These include the financial savings and the health benefits.

You will notice dramatic changes in your body once you quit smoking. You will notice a significant improvement in your lung function as soon you stop smoking.

20 minutes — Your resting heart rate begins to drop (this is an indicator of your overall fitness).

12 hours – Your blood oxygen levels begin to increase and your body’s carbon monoxide level begins to decrease

5 Days — Most of the nicotine has left your system

1 week — Your sense of smell and taste improves

You can expect to be free from heart attack within 2-12 weeks. Your circulation will improve, your exercise is easier and more efficient.

You are less short of breath and have a lower cough for between 1 and 9 months

1 Year — Your risk of heart disease is about half as low if you quit smoking

5-years – you have lowered your chance of getting a stroke, developing mouth cancer, throat carcinoma or cancer of oesophagus.

In 10 years, your risk for lung cancer has declined to approximately half of what it would have been if a smoker had continued to smoke. Your chances of developing bladder and kidney cancer, as well as pancreatic cancer, have also declined.

You can help your family and friends quit smoking by reducing their exposure to passive smoking and second-hand smoke. This is particularly important if your children live with you.

You can save a lot by quitting smoking. Stopping smoking 20 cigarettes per day could help you save thousands each year.

There are many other social benefits. For example, smoking is illegal in many public places. Also, going outside to have a cigarette can mean that you get out of your house during meetings, conversations and activities. It’s not necessary to stop smoking.

How do I stop smoking?

Before quitting smoking, everyone has different experiences. Some may find it simple, others might find it difficult. There are many methods to quit smoking and plenty of resources available to help you.

Be sure to create a quit plan so you are always ready for anything. Your quit plan can include:

a quit date

Why you should quit.

Plan to overcome cravings and withdrawal symptoms

A list of your smoking triggers and how to manage them

A plan to make your car and home smoke-free

How to quit smoking

How can I quit smoking?

There are many options for quitting smoking. These include going ‘cold’ (stopping abruptly), slowly cutting back on cigarettes, using nicotine substitute therapy (NRT), prescription medications, and professional support and counseling.

Changes in your lifestyle and habits can increase your chances of quitting smoking. This could include:

Avoiding situations that can trigger your desire for smoking

You can distract yourself by engaging in new activities

Finding support among family members and friends, or in a support group

It is important to remind yourself of the health benefits of quitting smoking

Stop smoking ‘cold turkey’

You can quit smoking instantly, all by yourself without any help or support. This is known as “cold turkey”.

This is a popular method of quitting, but it is not as effective and safe as using nicotine replacement therapy or any other quit medication.

Gradually, reduce your efforts to quit

Gradually cutting back means gradually decreasing the number cigarettes you smoke per day, until you are completely quit. It’s a good way for you to get started if your not ready to quit.

To gradually reduce your smoking, you can increase the amount of cigarettes and the time between them until you achieve your quit date.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

NRT delivers small, controlled doses of nicotine without the dangers associated with cigarettes to ease withdrawal symptoms. This can assist you in quitting smoking.

You can buy NRT at pharmacies and supermarkets. It comes in patches, gum, oral and nasal sprays, as well as lozenges, tablets, and inhalers.

Mixing 2 forms of NRT together can be more effective in stopping you from smoking. A patch can give you a steady and slow amount of nicotine. An NRT gum or spray will quickly deliver a rapid dose to help with cravings.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out which method is best for you, and how to use them.

Smoking cessation medications

Other medications that do not contain nicotine are available upon prescription from your doctor. They work by blocking the nicotine receptors of your brain.

These medicines may not suit everyone. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if they are right.

Counselling and professional support

Counselling and professional support can be helpful in helping you quit smoking. There are many services that can be provided, so make sure to speak with your trusted healthcare professional.

Psychological interventions can include therapy such as mindfulness or cognitive behaviour therapy. Quitline is available across all states and territories and offers free counselling as well as an online chat.

Alternative ways to quit smoking are electronic cigarettes or vaping

People may try hypnotherapy or acupuncture to quit smoking. Although there isn’t any evidence that these methods work well, some people find them useful in their quest to quit smoking.

Only Australians can purchase electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vaping. Without a prescription, it is illegal to sell liquid nicotine or nicotine ecigarettes to anyone.

Some evidence suggests that e-cigarettes can be effective in helping people quit smoking for short-term. It’s unclear if they work long-term. It’s not known if they work as well as other nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). These heated vapours contain many dangerous substances. They are also relatively new products so the long-term consequences of prolonged exposure to them are not yet known.

How will I feel once I give up smoking?

When you stop smoking, nicotine withdrawal may occur. This can happen for as little as a few days to several weeks. Some common withdrawal symptoms include feeling anxious, irritable and depressed, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas and constipation, difficulty falling asleep, coughing, dry throat and mouth and dizziness.

The first week is often the most difficult. You will feel better once your body has recovered from the addiction to smoking.

While withdrawal can be painful, it is important to remember the many benefits of quitting smoking. You will not only cough less but also be more able to exercise and have a better sense of smell. Your sense of taste and smell will return and you will be able to save more money.

How can I stop smoking?

It is difficult to quit smoking. Keep in mind that you will improve your ability to quit smoking every time.

If you do relapse and re-inhale, that’s perfectly normal. People who smoke often attempt to quit multiple times before eventually succeeding. It takes practice and time to master any skill. The most important thing is to keep trying.

Consider slip-ups and relapses as learning experiences. Ask yourself these questions:

What was it that caused you to fall for it?

If you are in a similar situation, what quit strategies do you have?

What are your tips for managing withdrawal symptoms?

Are you following the instructions when you take prescription or NRT medications?

There will be times when you feel compelled to smoke. It is important that you identify your own smoking triggers. Make a list and then add them to your quit smoking plan. For more information on quitting, visit the Quit website.
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