To say that giving up smoking is hard is an understatement. Nicotine is so addictive that smokers can spend years or even decades trying and failing to quit the habit.
The adverse effects of smoking tobacco are well known: smokers face a greatly increased risk of suffering from various forms of cancer (particularly lung cancer), heart disease and stroke. Although minor by comparison, there are also some other unpleasant consequences of smoking, such as bad breath, skin conditions and even erectile dysfunction.
The health care reasons for giving up are, therefore, compelling. Here are three ways to make the process easier.
Nicotine-replacement therapy involves taking in the addictive component of tobacco -the nicotine- in a different and safer way. The dangers of smoking come from the tar and other toxins contained in tobacco smoke. Nicotine itself is not a harmful substance (unless imbibed in huge quantities). Studies have shown that this method of quitting smoking is easier and generally more successful than trying the “cold turkey” approach.
You can use various kinds of products that contain nicotine. These include patches that stick to the skin, chewing gum, lozenges, sprays and inhalators. It’s worth experimenting with a few of these to see which suits you best.
There are two drugs that are widely used to help people stop smoking: Zyban and Champix. Although they work in different ways, there is plenty of evidence to show that they both can make a significant difference for people who want to quit.
These drugs are not suitable for everyone, however, and it’s very important to talk to your doctor before considering them. They are prescription drugs and can have side effects, so don’t try to buy them online from unlicensed sellers. See your doctor, get a prescription and buy them from a licensed pharmacist.
E-cigarettes are perhaps the most popular smoking-cessation aids of recent years. Many ex-smokers swear by the devices and have successfully given up tobacco for good by using them- mainly because vaping provides both a nicotine hit and a similar sensation to smoking. But how safe are they?
Given that e-cigarettes are a relatively recent phenomenon, the jury is still out in terms of the scientific evidence. It would take decades of monitoring vapers (people who use e-cigarettes) to determine whether they are truly safe. However, some studies have been conducted, and many doctors and researchers have stated their belief that vaping is much safer than smoking. For example, Public Health England produced a report in 2015 that looked at all of the available evidence and concluded that vaping was, at worst, probably five percent as dangerous as smoking.
If you are determined to quit smoking and want to take no risks at all with your health, then it’s probably best not to use an e-cigarette – at least until there is more scientific evidence. But if you find that you can’t stop smoking in any other way, then it’s clear that vaping offers a way out. It’s worth thinking about it and doing a simple risk-benefit analysis.
These three ways of quitting smoking can make the process easier, and it’s worth exploring one or all of them if you want to give up for good. However, there is something else you are going to need, and that’s will power. It can help to think about all the benefits you are going to enjoy when you succeed – not least a longer and healthier life.