Based on the help guide ‘How to Quit Smoking’ by health professionals Dr. Lawrence Robinson and Dr. Melinda Smith, one may become accustomed to smoking as a way of coping with unpleasant feelings such as stress, depression, anxiety, and even boredom because of nicotine’s “feel good” effect on the brain.
They suggest that in order to successfully quit smoking, one needs to “address both the addiction and the habits and routines that go along with it.” They added that keeping on track is better with a good plan tailored to specific needs and smoking habits that “addresses both the short-term challenge of quitting smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse.”
Experts share that the following methods to kick the smoking habit:
- Go cold turkey
Cold turkey is stopping smoking completely all at once at one’s own will. Studies say that 90% of people who quit smoking do so without outside intervention such as medicine or therapy. But according to the American Cancer Society, “only about 4 to 7 percent of people are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without medicines or other help.”
- Behavioral therapy
In this method, one works with a counselor who would help in combating the triggers and getting over the cravings. Behavioral therapy focuses on breaking nicotine habits and developing new coping skills.
- Nicotine-replacement therapy
According to the National Cancer Institute, “nicotine replacement products deliver measured doses of nicotine into the body, which helps to relieve the cravings and withdrawal symptoms often felt by people trying to quit smoking.” Nicotine could come in the form of patches, gums, lozenges, nasal sprays and inhalers as a form of replacement in providing nicotine without the tobacco. Nicotine-replacement therapy generally focuses on stopping smokers’ psychological addiction.
- Prescribed medication
Doctors prescribe medications that could help in quitting smoking. Before going into this method, it is important to consult first with a doctor and find out the side effects of the medicine.
So, how does a person quit smoking?
- Follow through plans of quitting
Plans should not only remain as that — a plan. After deciding to quit, be decisive. One of the most important step is setting a “quit date.” On that day, make a strong commitment to achieve the end goal of your plan.
- Be aware of the triggers and avoid them
The first few days of not smoking are the hardest as it may transform a smoker’s behavior into a negative one. But after getting through this difficult phase, a normal nicotine-free being would emerge. During the first three months, stay away from people, places or situations that induce smoking.
Change some habits. Try new activities with people who do not smoke. Substitute cigarettes with other food to put inside the mouth such as a chewing gum, hard candy and even nuts.
- Focus on the benefits
Quitting affects the entire body system. The body recovers from the effects of nicotine shortly after smoking is stopped. Aside from breathing easier, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature return to healthy levels.
In a study published in the Hypertension Journal, it was found that a smoker’s heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting. And a year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half that of a continuing smoker’s, as told in the 2010 US Surgeon General’s Report.
- Distract unpleasant feelings in healthier ways
Smokers handle unpleasant feelings by consuming cigarettes. When quitting smoking, one must find alternative ways that would distract them. Get busy by doing activities such as needlework, woodwork or other crafts. Also engage in productive activities like reading a book, or exercising and meditation.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) is pressing for the full implementation of Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law as “it will not only help stop the illicit trade of tobacco products in the country but ultimately advance the health of Filipinos by highlighting the ill effects of smoking.”
“We already gained from our strong efforts to control tobacco use in the country, we will not waste that. Aside from the Sin Tax Reform law, we believe the GHW law will be of great help especially in reminding Filipinos not to engage in smoking and to those who are smoking, to eventually quit.” Health Secretary Janet Garin said.
GHW, also known as Republic Act No. 10643, is an act that seeks to effectively instill health consciousness through graphic health warnings on tobacco products.
Among the technical specifications mentioned under the GHW law include: printing of GHW on fifty percent (50%) of the principal display surfaces of any tobacco products and shall occupy fifty percent (50%) of the front and fifty percent (50%) of the back panel of the tobacco package; and shall be printed in four colors.
Quitting the smoking habit could be a success if there is complete planning and full commitment. Why quit smoking now? It is simple, to live a longer and healthier life.
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