Quit Smoking! How To Increase Your Chances of Success

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July 24, 2014

Quit Smoking!  How to Increase Your Chances of Success

While traveling to three large cities in China, I noticed there were many more smokers than in the United States.  Mostly men seemed to light up cigarettes everywhere, even in the supposedly nonsmoking areas of the hotel.  This year, 2014, marked the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on the Effects of Tobacco.  In the U.S., we have made considerable strides in research on the effects of tobacco and also by decreasing the percentage of population that do smoke.  Worldwide, the trend shows the number of smokers to be increasing each year.  Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death, with 400,000 people dying each year in the United States as a result of this addictive habit.

Here are some tips to help kick the habit:

1)      Realize that this is a difficult goal to achieve but make it a priority.  The psychological side of the battle to quit is significant.  Tell your family and friends you are going to quit and get mentally ready to set aside the cigarettes once and for all.

2)      Set a quit date.  Choose a date where you have less stress.  Smoking helps with stress, so try to maximize your chances of success.

3)      Get rid of all of the cigarettes in your house, car or workplace.  Discard ashtrays and other items that remind you of smoking.

4)      Talk to your physician about possible medications to help decrease craving for smoking.  Several options include Zyban (Wellbutrin or generic bupropion), Chantix (generic varenicline), and nicotine replacement products.  All nicotine replacement products are available over the counter.  Nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine inhalers that are shaped like cigarettes are available.  Zyban and Chantix are started 7-10 days before your quit date.  You can smoke while taking these medications up until the quit date.  Nicotine replacement should start as soon as you quit smoking.  Using both an oral medication prescribed by your physician and nicotine replacement products increases your chances of success.

5)      Decide what healthy habit you will do instead of smoking.  Many people chew sugarless gum or mints, decide to take up exercise or knitting or some other activity that keeps your hands occupied. 

6)      Remind yourself how much money you are saving by not buying cigarettes.  Reward yourself with the money you accumulate.

7)      If you relapse, do not give up.  Most people have to quit at least 5 times before complete success.

For physicians and health care providers, these 4 As are helpful to aide your patients in quitting:

1)       ASK:  All health care providers should ask each patient whether or not they smoke.  This includes all specialties.  Studies show patients are much more likely to quit if they have been advised this by their physician.

2)      ADVISE:  Tell your patients to quit smoking!  This is obvious but many physicians do not actually directly tell their patients to stop.

3)      ASSIST:  Explain the different options for pharmaceutical help, including over the counter nicotine replacement.

4)      ARRANGE FOLLOWUP:  It is recommended that the patient be seen 1-2 weeks after the quit date and then 1-2 months later to follow up on smoking cessation progress.

Hopefully the summer months are a great time to think hard about setting a quit date and devoting effort to giving up smoking all together.  The benefits to health and longevity cannot be stressed enough.  You will be preventing multiple diseases, especially cancer, heart disease and stroke, while lowering your expenditures by not buying cigarettes.   Contact your health care provider’s office to start the process today!