Get ready for STOPtober!
The month of October has been declared the "quit smoking month" in a drive to encourage as many smokers to give up the habit collectively. This might indeed be another good opportunity for smokers to think about giving up for good.
Smoking is responsible for a multitude of health problems and is the first cause of lung cancer, which kills around 30.000 people every year in the United Kingdom alone. It is also the leading cause of chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD), also known as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, which leads to severe breathlessness and respiratory failure. Smokers are also at much higher risk of having strokes and heart attacks.
If these are not good enough reasons to make you want to quit, remember that many cancers are directly linked to the toxic fumes inhaled by smoking tobacco, such as mouth and throat cancers, stomach and bladder cancer and even breast cancer.
So why is it so difficult to kick the habit, when there is so much proof around that smoking is bad for you? Simply because nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to mankind.
Smokers quickly develop a physical dependence to nicotine, which means their brains are simply unable to go long without it and they feel physically unwell when starved of nicotine (tremors, anxiety, nausea, headaches).
The message is clear: it is best never to start smoking in the first place and we should continue to encourage children and young adults to fight hard not to give in to peer pressure and their first cigarette.
Here are a few tips to help you stop smoking:
- Motivation is key and without it, the chances of giving up are very slim. Make a list of the reasons why you want to stop and keep it close, to strengthen your resolve.
- See your doctor to discuss getting some help, either through nicotine replacement or oral medication which reduce cravings. Make the most of this visit to discuss your general health.
- Set yourself a quit date and get a friend to stop with you so you can support each other. Online support groups can be very helpful when on the verge of giving in.
- Calculate how much money you will save by not smoking and put it on a savings account. This can go towards a holiday rather than just up in smoke.
Remember; never stop trying to give up. Most people will make several attempts at stopping smoking before giving up for good. If you fail in October, remember November and December are also perfectly good months to give up!
Dr Isabelle Benard MD General Practitioner