Up in Smoke

The World Health Organisation estimates that tobacco kills almost six million people annually. If this trend continues as it stands, by 2030 this number could be as high as eight million people each year. “In general, smokers have a three times higher risk of dyingthan people who have never smoked,” says Deepak Patel, principal clinical specialist for Discovery Vitality.

“Smoking results in increased premature death as it is a major cause of chronic lung disease, coronary heart disease and strokes. Smokers also age faster than non-smokers.”

Quit Smoking And Live Longer

Smokers who stop can add a great number of years to their lifespan, says Deepak. “Those who quit between the ages of 25 and 34 years live 10 years longer. Those who quit between ages 55 and 64 gain four years of life expectancy.

Deepak estimates that quit rates are increased by 60% when behavioural treatment is used, 100% when pharmacologic treatment is used, and by 200% when pharmacologic treatment and behavioural treatment are usedtogether.

Behavioural Treatment

Such programmes make use of counsellingto help the smoker quit.

  • Allen Carr’s Easyway seeks to destroy the illusions of the benefits of smoking through counselling.
  • Smokenders is a seven-week programme that uses behaviour modification and psychology to help smokers quit.

Pharmacologic Treatment

There are a number of medicines available at Dis-Chemthat can help people on their journey to becoming a non-smoker. It can also ease the burden of nicotine dependence. Some of these include nicotine patches, gum such as Nicotinell and Nicorettes, lozenges, nasal spray, inhalers and sustained-release bupropion (Zyban).

For most smokers stopping is a task that will require a number of attempts to prove successful. “While about 70% of smokers wish to quit and some 45% make serious attempts at quitting annually, fewer than 10% quit successfully. Smokers who wish to quit should not quit trying,” says Deepak.

Stop On Your Own

The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) offers the following tips to help stop smoking on your own:

  • Decide on a date to quit smoking and stick to it.
  • Throw away all reminders of smoking such as cigarette packets, ashtrays and lighters.
  • Become more active. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Change your routine. Avoid smokers and triggers that may tempt you.
  • Tell your family and friends that you are trying to quit so that they can offer you support.
  • The first two to three days are the most difficult. It usually becomes easier with time. Your cravings will subside and eventually disappear.
  • Weight gain is not a necessary side effect of quitting. Ensure that you eat a healthy balanced diet that is high in fruit and vegetables.
  • Do not use a crisis or special occasion as an excuse for “just one” cigarette.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Quitting is a journey so try and try again!
Are E-Cigarettes The Key To Quitting?

There are some who advocate e-cigarettes as a form of nicotine replacement to stop smoking. All e-cigarettes make use of a battery, a heating element, and a cartridge that holds nicotine and other liquids and flavourings. Using an e-cigarette is called “vaping”.

​Deepak advises caution when vaping, as there is no conclusive evidence that they reduce the risks of smoking. There are also reports that certain e-cigarettes contain various other substances that can be bad for your health, so do your research.