Today, Wednesday 14 March, is ‘No Smoking Day 2018’ – a day in the year to encourage smokers to think about quitting and to offer encouragement and tips for quitting and staying quit.

Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and a range of cancers. On St Helena, these diseases are responsible for a heavy burden of the illness, disability, and early deaths experienced by the community.

For this reason, smoking, along with obesity (the other major risk factor for these diseases), will be a priority in the new preventive work the Health Directorate will be undertaking in 2018 and 2019.

Lead for Health Promotion & Social Marketing, Dr Angie Jackson-Morris, explains:

“This will include developing the quit support for smokers, and establishing public policies to support healthier behaviours.

“Quitting smoking is one of the best things a smoker can do to reduce their personal risk of developing diabetes, or having a stroke or heart attack. The Hospital Pharmacy has a range of Nicotine Replacement Therapy options on prescription and these are proven to help smokers when they are trying to quit.”

Tips for Quitting

Think about why you smoke

Often people start smoking in their teens because friends smoke or because they want to look grown up, or at times of stress in life. When that time passes people often keep smoking even though the initial ‘reason’ has gone away.

Think about your reasons for stopping

  • The desire to stop smoking for good can be a big motivator and ingredient for successful quitting. Focus on becoming a non-smoker
  • Everyone has personal reasons for wanting to quit. Maybe you are worried about your health, want to feel fitter, save cash, are trying to get pregnant, or maybe you want to show your kids that smoking is not what you want them to do. Write down your top three reasons and put them somewhere you’ll see them every day. This can help if you experience cravings to smoke when you first try to quit
  • Think how you’ll manage situations when you used to smoke, like a ‘cig break’, going for a coffee or a night out, when you’re with friends who still smoke
  • Think how you’ll deal with tempting situations and what you’ll say if a friend, relative or workmate offers you a cigarette. Think about going to places where you usually smoke and changing your routine so you aren’t going out to smoke. Prepare to start saying: ‘No, thanks, I’ve given up!’
  • If you’re worried about gaining weight, try taking up an easy exercise like walking or swimming – it will distract you, you’ll feel better for it. Swap to zero sugar drinks and low fat/low sugar snacks

 Set a quit date

Pick a day, mark it on the calendar and start your quit then. If you stop for just a month, you’re already on track to stopping for good. Take one step at a time, set yourself small goals, and don’t think too far ahead. Tell your friends and family the day you’ve chosen to stop smoking. Letting them know your plan allows them to help you to stop.

Use one of the Pharmacy ‘Nicotine Replacement’ options

Nicotine is addictive, and willpower alone might not be enough. Give yourself a better chance of success by using nicotine replacement (NRT) medication available at the Pharmacy. Gum, patches and ‘Champix’ are all options and can help you deal with cravings (withdrawal symptoms) when you first quit. Tell the pharmacist if you take another medication and they can make sure NRT is suitable for you.

Tactics to deal with cravings when you first quit

  • Get NRT to help you get through the first quit phase
  • Take a break if you’re getting irritable and take a drink of water 
  • Go for a walk as a distraction and you’ll feel better for it
  • Think of the benefits – saving cash, not smelling of smoke
  • Take up a new hobby

 Get support from friends and family

Family and friends can be a big support to help you quit. Tell your friends and family when you are going to quit and they can encourage and support you. They can help distract you when you need your mind taken off smoking, especially while you change your habits and routines – like when you used to go on a smoke break, or having a coffee or a drink and a cigarette together.

#StHelena #PublicHealth #NoSmokingDay2018

14 March 2018

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