Quitting smoking: learn how and the benefits for your health
For yourself, for everyone
The harmful effects of tobacco are vast and well known, as this is the biggest preventable cause of death in the world and in Portugal it is directly responsible for more than 12,000 deaths a year - and the main factor for the appearance of cancer. In the short term it also causes a deterioration in physical condition, less energy, weak and brittle hair and dull skin and eventual appearance of blemishes, memory problems, bad breath, among many others.
Did you know that a cigarette contains over 7,000 different chemical substances and that smoking a pack of tobacco a day causes, on average, 150 mutations a year in lung cells?
And not only tobacco harms the active smoker! Passive smokers inhale not only the smoke exhaled by the person who is smoking, but also the smoke emitted from the end of a lit cigarette. The latter contains, on average, three times more nicotine and carbon monoxide and up to 50 times more carcinogenic substances.
Secondhand smoke is responsible for up to 40,000 deaths per year and causes damage to the health of the entire population, regardless of age group.
Thus, quitting smoking has immediate, medium and long-term benefits, not only for the person, but also for those around him.
Did you know that just 20 minutes after quitting smoking changes are already happening in your body?
- After 20 minutes: blood pressure and heart rate return to normal
- After 12 hours: carbon monoxide levels in the blood return to normal
- After 2 weeks to 3 months: you start to breathe better and feel more energy, blood circulation improves, the risk of myocardial infarction decreases, smell and taste improve and diabetic patients start to better control their disease
- After 1 to 9 months: gradual increase in general well-being, accompanied by more vitality, coughing and shortness decrease and breathing becomes easier
- After 1 year: the risk of heart attack decreases to about half that seen in people who continue to smoke
- After 2 to 5 years: the risk of stroke decreases, becoming similar to that of people who do not smoke, the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is reduced by half after 5 years
- After 10 years: you are 50% less likely to get lung cancer than people who continue to smoke, your risk of pancreatic and kidney cancer decreases
- After 15 years: the risk of coronary disease is similar to that of a non-smoker, of the same gender and age
In the long term, there will be a reduction in the risk of lung cancer and many other types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, a reduction in the risk of developing some lung diseases and also a reduction in the risk of infertility.
What are the steps to quit smoking?
- Make a list of the reasons that justify your decision to quit smoking. It could be because you want to improve your health or not have problems in the future, because you are concerned about setting a good example for your children, to protect your family and other people, among others;
- Identify the situations in which you usually smoke, in which you feel more like smoking and how you can deal with them;
- Set a date to stop smoking, the “D” day;
- Spread the word that you are going to stop smoking, commit to the decision and involve others in your decision;
Until the “D” day:
- Review your list of reasons to stop smoking;
- Try to delay the first cigarette in the morning;
- Keep eliminating cigarettes throughout the day and increasing the interval between them and
do not smoke the cigarette until the end;
- Change habits, avoid situations where you feel like smoking;
- Change your tobacco brand to another that you like less;
- Do not smoke in public and before picking up a new cigarette, think about whether you really need to smoke it;
- If you feel that you cannot do it “without help”, know that fortunately there are many solutions on the market. Some subject to a medical prescription and others not, so you should consult your doctor to find out which one is best for you.
The non-prescription solutions, which you can find at My Pharma Spot, are called “nicotine replacement therapy” and consist of replacing the daily dose of nicotine usually consumed.
These therapies have the advantage of not exposing the smoker to other harmful substances in tobacco (such as tar, for example), while minimizing withdrawal crises, as nicotine is gradually reduced. And there is no risk of causing addiction.
The treatment lasts for 8 to 12 weeks, and can be found in the form of patches (transdermal patches) or lozenges. You should choose the one you feel most comfortable with. In general, patches have a higher success rate as there is a continuous release of nicotine.
The nicotine lozenge is usually more effective when used as an ally of the patch, because while the latter brings constant and reduced amounts of nicotine throughout the day, the lozenge allows you to control moments of greater tension. However, if you use them simultaneously, you must be very careful not to overdose.
There are not many contraindications for nicotine replacement therapies. However, do not forget that nicotine is also carcinogenic!
If you smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day start with phase 1 ( Niquitin Clear 21 mg/24 hour transdermal patch - 14 units ) and gradually advance to phase 2 ( Niquitin Clear 14 mg/24 hour transdermal patch - 14 units ) and then to phase 3 ( Niquitin Clear 7 mg/24 hours transdermal patch - 7 units ), for 10 weeks.
- Weeks 1 to 6: Use the 21 mg patch
- Weeks 7 to 11 (maximum – depending on how comfortable you are with moving on to the next step): Use the 14mg patch
- Weeks 11 and 12: Use the 7 mg patch
- After 12 weeks: Stop using the transdermal patch
If you smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day, start with phase two and move to phase three over a period of 6 weeks.
Apply one transdermal patch at the same time every day, preferably after waking up, and leave on for 24 hours. You should apply it on clean and dry skin.
Choose the flavor you like the most, between fruit ( Nicotinell Fruit 2 mg - 120 gums ) and mint ( Nicotinell Mint 1 mg - 96 gums ) / fresh mint ( Nicotinell Freshmint 2 mg - 120 gums ). Its use always depends on the number of cigarettes you smoked:
If you smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day:
- week 1 to 4 = 4 mg gum every 1 to 2 hours
- week 5 to 8 = 2 mg gum every 2 to 4 hours
- Week 9 to 12 = 2 mg gum every 4 to 8 hours
If you smoke less than 20 cigarettes a day:
- Week 1 to 4 = 2 mg gum every 1 to 2 hours
- Week 5 to 8 = 2 mg gum every 2 to 4 hours
- Week 9 to 12 = 2 mg gum every 4 to 8 hours.
Put the lozenge in your mouth and chew slowly until the taste becomes strong. When the flavor is strong, let the gum rest between your jaw and cheek. Nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. After the taste disappears, chew again until the taste becomes strong again.
Chew a piece of gum whenever you feel the urge to smoke. Over time, you will need to chew less and less gum to control anxiety and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. We recommend that you gradually reduce the amount of medicated gum you chew daily.
Nicorette Bucomist relieves symptoms associated with smoking cessation such as insomnia, irritability, anxiety and restlessness. Nicotine helps to reduce and resist cravings for cigarettes and thus helps you to end your dependence on nicotine.
Step 1: Weeks 1-6
Apply 1 or 2 sprays when you would normally smoke a cigarette or when you feel like smoking. Give a spray first and if your urge to smoke doesn't go away within a few minutes, give a second spray. If 2 sprays are required, subsequent doses can be 2 consecutive sprays.
For most smokers, this means about 1 or 2 sprays every 30 minutes to 1 hour. For example, if you smoke an average of 15 cigarettes a day, you should do 1 or 2 puffs at least 15 times a day. Do not do more than 2 sprays at a time or 4 sprays per hour in 16 hours. The maximum dose is 64 sprays over 16 hours in a 24 hour period.
Step 2: Weeks 7-9
Start reducing the number of sprays per day. By the end of week 9, you should be doing HALF the average number of sprays per day that you did in step 1.
Step 3: Weeks 10-12 -
Continue to reduce the number of sprays per day so that you are no more than 4 sprays per day during week 12. When you have reduced to 2-4 sprays per day you should stop using Nicorette Bucomist.
On the “D” day, stop smoking:
- Remove all objects related to tobacco consumption from close to you;
- When you feel a strong urge to smoke, take a deep breath, control your breathing, learn to relax. Think that this desire only lasts a few minutes and that you are able to resist it, because as time goes by this desire will diminish;
- Don't think you'll never smoke again, but today you won't smoke. Keep positive thoughts and daily goals;
- Increase your level of physical activity, such as a simple walk, which will help you feel in a better mood;
- Have a healthy diet. Quitting smoking can increase your appetite in the first few weeks, make up for this tendency with a balanced, fractional diet throughout the day;
- Decrease your coffee and alcohol intake until you feel more freed from the urge to smoke. Replace with tea or infusions without sugar;
- Avoid being around other people who smoke and ask your friends and colleagues not to smoke around you;
- Avoid “dangerous” moments, those when you usually smoke and use your strategies to deal with these situations;
- Keep in a visible place the money you save every day by not buying tobacco and use it in something that gives you pleasure.
And if it relapses?
The change process includes advances and retreats. The more times you try to quit, even if you relapse afterwards, the greater the probability of successfully quitting smoking. Relapse does not mean that you have failed, but that you have to try again, but now knowing a little better how to deal with difficulties.
Learn from experience. If you relapsed, try to understand why. This knowledge is valuable for increasing the likelihood of succeeding on the next attempt.
National Health Service at: https://www.sns24.gov.pt/guia/deixar-de-fumar/