Smoking is a tough habit to kick. Research shows that 60-75% of people relapse in the first six months after trying to quit. There's always a temptation to share a smoke with a friend or to escape work for a quick few drags.
But the health benefits of quitting are substantial, with risks of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and overall health improving in a matter of weeks or months.
The Global Burden of Smoking
Smoking is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with around 14% of deaths attributed to smoking-related illnesses, as per the World Health Organisation. This is especially true in lower and middle-income countries, where smoking rates are on the rise.
Breaking the Cycle
There are two main ways to quit smoking: willpower and self-discipline. Willpower and self-discipline are essential, but therapies can help fulfill nicotine cravings without the health risks of smoking.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) comes in patches, gums, or inhalers that slowly release nicotine, reducing the urge to smoke. Nicotine itself isn't harmful, but the smoke from cigarettes is.
Varenicline and bupropion are medications that can help people quit smoking. Varenicline mimics the reward of smoking and reduces withdrawal symptoms, while bupropion works on a different neurotransmitter system to dampen brain activity.
E-cigarettes: A Controversial Option
E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes in the short to medium term, but are not risk-free in the long term. There is also concern that they may create new addictions or act as a gateway to smoking tobacco, especially for young people.
The Bottom Line
Quitting smoking is a difficult but rewarding decision. If you're considering quitting, there are many resources available to help you succeed. Talk to your doctor about the best approach for you and don't give up on your goal of a healthier life.
Additional Tips for Quitting Smoking
- Set a quit date and stick to it.
- Tell your friends and family about your decision to quit and ask for their support.
- Avoid triggers that make you want to smoke, such as alcohol or stress.
- Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercise or relaxation techniques.
- Reward yourself for reaching milestones in your quitting journey.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but it is possible. With the right support and determination, you can break the cycle and live a healthier life.