Stopping smoking is no easy task for those of us who are addicted to the habit. There are however overwhelming health reasons for stopping, even if you are elderly.
Smoking is the thing most likely to increase your chances of having a stroke (Cerebro Vascular Accident, CVA) or heart attack (Myocardial Infarction, MI), and these are the major causes of death in developed countries. In addition it is associated with an increased risk of lung disease, including chronic bronchitis and lung cancer.
Smoking is bad for the unborn child, being associated with low birth weight, which can cause problems for the new-born, and increases the risks of cot death.
Children living in smoking households are more likely to suffer from respiratory infections than those in non-smoking houses, and much has already been made of the increased risks of most of the above conditions for people inhaling other people's smoke.
You will only succeed in stopping smoking if you have really set your mind on it, and are committed to it. You can not merely use this or that method prescribed, sold or administered to you by someone else, without the additional constituent of determination.
- Most people say it is wise to set yourself a time and day from which you are going to stop, although some people successfully stop on the spur of the moment.
- Plan to stop completely.
- Ask your friends and relatives for help. They should try to avoid smoking when with you.
- To begin with you may find it worth avoiding some situations which you connect with smoking.
- You may be able to substitute something else for the cigarette in those situations you cannot avoid.
- It is worth getting rid of all the paraphernalia connected with smoking (ash trays, lighters etc).
- Have your clothes washed or cleaned to get rid of the smoke smell. (If you smoke many cigarettes, it will not be long before you can pay for a new set of clothes from the savings.)
- You do not need to talk to your doctor, but he or she will usually be very happy to discuss your intention to stop, and provide helpful advice and support.
You may well be able to stop on your own, but there are one or two approaches that can help:
- Nicotine replacement. (Patches, inhalation, and chewing gum.) This is merely aimed at reducing the worst of the "withdrawal" effects, and is not intended to be the same as smoking itself. Discuss these with your pharmacist or doctor.
- Varenicline (Champix) Bupropion (Zyban), medications which can be prescribed by your doctor to help with stopping smoking. In the UK these medications, and nicotine replacement, are available on the NHS but are likely to be linked with counselling.
- Acupuncture has been shown to be as effective as nicotine replacement. (Schwartz, JL; Evaluation of acupuncture as a treatment for smoking; American Journal of Acupuncture, 16, 135-42; 1988)
- Hypnosis also has good evidence to show that it can be helpful, perhaps in conjunction with other methods, in helping with smoking cessation. (Schwartz, JL; Methods of smoking cessation; Med. Clin. N. America, 76, 2, 451-76; 1992)
- Some people find that group sessions can be helpful.