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Determined to quit smoking once and for all? Don’t try and go it alone – head to your community pharmacy for expert knowledge, advice and support, as Claire Muffett-Reece explains

The primary cause of preventable ill health and death in the UK, smoking puts a strain on your finances, your relationships, your health – and our NHS. Luckily for you, there’s a whole host of services available in your local community pharmacy to get you to stub out the cigarettes for good.

Don’t go it alone

For years, quitting smoking simply meant throwing your cigarettes and lighter in the bin and surviving on self-control alone. Willpower in many situations can be a wonderful thing – and works when it comes to quitting smoking for some – however, the stark reality is that only three in every 100 smokers manage to permanently stop this way. Never feel ashamed or deflated that you’re struggling to cope – you’re only human and smoking is addictive, so visit your local pharmacist now for additional ways to curb that addiction – for good!

Consider using NRT

Common symptoms when you stop smoking include feeling down, disturbed sleep, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, constipation and an increased appetite – not to mention the strong urge to light up! It’s no wonder quitting can seem so daunting, so with this in mind, one service your local pharmacy is able to offer is NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy). Quite simply, the main reason people smoke is due to being addicted to nicotine, so NRT is a range of medications that provide you with a low level of the stimulant, but without any carbon monoxide, tar or other poisonous chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Available to buy at your pharmacy without prescription, NRT comes in the form of chewing gum, patches you place on your skin, tablets or lozenges, nasal and mouth sprays. Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop, however, NRT is not suitable for everyone, so ask to speak to a member of the pharmacy staff who can assess your situation – and your nicotine needs – before investing.

Ask if your pharmacy has a Stop Smoking Service

Some pharmacies offer an NHS stop-smoking service, giving one-to-one consultations, access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy and referrals to specialist services if necessary.

KICKING THE HABIT STATS

Ready to take the plunge and visit your community pharmacy for help with stopping smoking? Here’s just a few statistics to show how amazing kicking the habit really is…

In 20 MINUTES your pulse rate returns to normal

In 24-48 HOURS carbon monoxide levels in your blood are eliminated

In 72 HOURS breathing becomes easier

In 1 YEAR the risk of a heart attack falls by half of that of a smoker

In 15 YEARS the risk of a heart attack falls to the same level of a person that has never smoked

8 Stop Smoking Tips from the Experts

Cancer Research UK asked people who used to smoke for their quitting advice. And, although there is no single way to stop smoking, you may find these expert tips work for you too:

“Do it for your own personal reasons.”

Whether it’s protecting your health, saving money, or not missing out on time with others, our experts listed many reasons why they wanted to quit. Keeping a list somewhere visible can help you stick to your goal.

“I sometimes still get that feeling of something missing and have to remember that it’s normal to feel this.”

Our experts took note of different situations where they were tempted by smoking. Planning how to prepare for these moments, like having nicotine gum or an e-cig to hand, helped them stick to their goal.

“I would encourage people to find their “quit” song.”

Many experts found helpful distraction for times they might have lit up a cigarette. Music, TV, an app, or walking to another space. What might work for you?

“The hardest thing was forcing myself to book the appointment.”

There are many ways to quit, and support from free local Stop Smoking Services is proven to increase your chances of success.

“I certainly felt very alone trying to quit. Find someone to talk to.”

Many people who used to smoke said sharing their experience with stop smoking advisors, as well as friends and family helped them to stop smoking for good.

“Everyone one’s path is different, find what’s right for you.”

Try all the different stop smoking tools. NRT, prescription medication and e-cigarettes can all help you cope with cravings. Maximise your chance of success with support from your local Stop Smoking Service, or even the Smokefree app. 

“Knowing that it doesn’t control my life. I got control back and don’t let it dictate every element of my life.”

As well as remembering why you want to stop, enjoy the benefits. Our experts listed many things, from having more spending money, to better health allowing them to do more, like join a choir.

“You are stronger than your addiction to tobacco.”

Stick at it, although you may have tried before. Most people who used to smoke we spoke to had also tried more than once and said, ‘keep trying, you WILL get there’. It’s never too late to make a change.

Tips courtesy of Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/smoking-and-cancer/8-stop-smoking-tips-from-the-experts, Accessed September 2020.

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