Smoking is the single greatest cause of illness and premature death in the UK. Dr Jurgita gives advice on quitting.
Smoking is at least partly responsible for the death of almost half of all regular cigarette smokers – it kills around 300 people every day. Smoking is a particular problem in Portsmouth - the number of people who smoke exceeds the national average.
As a result, smokers are putting their own and their loved ones’ health at risk. Research has found that they are more susceptible to serious or fatal diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis, emphysema, respiratory disease and strokes. Smoking can also cause asthma and affect fertility.
Giving up smoking can be difficult, but there are a number of support options available to help you. Dr Jurgita Cekanaviciene from Care UK’s Guildhall Walk NHS Health Centre offers some advice for people who are considering giving up smoking.
Make sure you are physically, mentally and emotionally ready to quit and plan carefully how and when you will give up.
It might help if you contact your GP surgery to discuss relevant support groups. They can also prescribe nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine gum and patches, to help manage your cravings. These products don’t contain toxic chemicals like tar or carbon monoxide or cause cancer and are suitable for most people. However, check with your doctor if you are pregnant, suffer from a heart or circulatory condition or take regular medication.
Many people fall into the trap of believing common excuses when it comes to quitting. Find out why they aren’t a problem.
• I’ve been smoking for too long, it’s too late.” Stopping at any age will reduce your risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease and increase life expectancy.
• I’ll put on weight”. Quitting smoking can lead to an increase in appetite and an improved sense of taste. Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks and avoid too many crisps or too much chocolate!
• I can’t cope with the initial symptoms.” Giving up smoking may leave you feeling irritable, restless, frustrated, tired. You may also have difficulty sleeping and concentrating. Don’t worry, this is all completely normal and the feelings will pass. Speak to your GP about nicotine replacement products to help with the cravings.
• I don’t smoke very often.” Any amount of nicotine reduces blood supply to the heart, increasing your risk of heart disease
Although smoking can lead to many health problems, your body will start to return to normal very soon after quitting. Within 24 hours your blood pressure and lungs will be showing improvement. After three months your circulation and breathing should have improved. After five years your risk of heart attacks falls to that of a non-smoker. After ten years your risk of lung cancer falls back to the normal level.
Follow these tips to help you kick the habit for good:
• Take one day at a time.
• Tell everyone you have quit and use the support of family, friends and colleagues when you’re struggling.
• Keep busy – you’re more likely to smoke if you’re bored.
• Change your routine – avoid some of the situations where you would normally smoke such as going to the pub.
• Clear away reminders – throw out cigarettes and put ashtrays away.
• Do more exercise – this will help to take your mind of smoking.
• Save the money that that you would have spent on cigarettes and buy yourself a treat as a reward.
• Don’t be tempted to have just one or you could find yourself back where you started.
• Contact your GP and use the services on offer to help you quit.
For more information, phone the free NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0800 0224 332.