Why quit smoking
There are many reasons to quit smoking.
- You may worry about the harmful effects of smoking on your health. In fact, tobacco kills almost 6,000 people each year in B.C. and causes illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, throat and oral cancer, and emphysema.
- You may be concerned about the harmful effects of second-hand smoke on people around you, especially children.
- You may feel that your tobacco use is costing more and more, both in terms of money and your ability to lead an active life.
It is always a good time to quit
The health benefits of quitting smoking start the first day, with increased oxygen in the blood and lower blood pressure. Within 1 year of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease decreases by half. Ten years after quitting, the risk of lung cancer is similar to someone who has never smoked.
Methods to help you quit
Different methods of quitting smoking work for different people. Here are a few choices:
QuitNow Services provides free help to quit smoking, any time of the day or night. Call 8-1-1 and ask for QuitNow or visit www.quitnow.ca. The website has lots of great tips, information and services including:
- an online quit community with professional and peer support;
- email or text message services; and
- a telephone quitline - just call 8-1-1 - translation services are available in over 130 languages on request.
Medications to help with withdrawal can double your chances of quitting. While it is normal to have withdrawal symptoms, medications can reduce the intensity of your symptoms:
- Nicotine replacement therapy products are non-prescription medications which contain nicotine. They work to reduce withdrawal symptoms when you quit smoking by giving you the nicotine you would get through smoking.
- Bupropion (Zyban®) and varenicline (Champix®) do not contain nicotine but work on the brain to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings and can reduce the urge to smoke. You will need to see your doctor to get a prescription for one of these drugs. Your doctor can help you decide which drug is best for you.
The B.C. Smoking Cessation Program offers British Columbians nicotine replacement therapy products (nicotine gum and patches) at no cost and smoking cessation prescription drugs as benefits under PharmaCare. This program is open to B.C. residents who smoke or use other tobacco products and wish to quit. For more information visit www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/stop-smoking/index.html.
Prescription for Health - B.C. family physicians can help British Columbians who are at-risk (smoker, unhealthy eating, physically inactive, obese) get on the road to a healthier lifestyle. For more information visit www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/prescription-health.
Health authorities may also have resources to help smokers quit. For information on your health authority, visit www.health.gov.bc.ca/tobacco/contacts.html
Your pharmacist, dentist, counsellor or another health care provider may also have advice for you on the best option or combination of options for you.
How to get ready to quit
Planning in advance how you want to quit can help you succeed. Here are some steps to take when preparing to quit smoking:
- Stay motivated
To help you stay motivated, make a list of the reasons you want to quit smoking. Keep the list handy as a reminder.
- Pick your quit day
In advance, pick the day when you want to quit. Try to pick a day that is no more than 3 weeks away so you do not lose your motivation. Look for a time when you have support and no unusual stresses. Remember, there is no perfect time so pick your day to quit now.
- Quit methods
Choose the methods you want to use to quit smoking.
For most people, talking to friends or others for support can be helpful. Make a list of support people and their phone numbers.
Think about which situations make you want to smoke and plan how you will cope with each one.
Learn what to expect and how you can make it better. For example, irritability is a common withdrawal symptom, and deep breathing helps many people cope with this symptom.
Are other tobacco products safe?
Other types of tobacco sold in Canada include:
- Spit tobacco or smokeless tobacco;
- Cigars, cigarillos, and pipe tobacco;
- Bidis; and
- Kreteks or clove and other herbal cigarettes.
These tobacco products are as harmful as cigarettes. However, many people use these products because they think these are safer than cigarettes. Most products have many of the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes. These can be just as addictive and harmful to a person's health.
For more information on tobacco products, see HealthLinkBC File #30b Tobacco Products are not a Safe Alternative to Cigarettes.