Curbing The Habit, Your Own Way
Research and Innovations According to a recent Propel study, more than 37,000 Canadians die because of tobacco use each year. This number could drop drastically, however, if people looking to quit were equipped with the right tools.
Never quit quitting
Most people looking to quit smoking have tried to before. Yet, despite some perceived failure, this is not defeat; it’s actually the norm. “On average, there are six quit attempts before someone is successful,” says Jane Ling, President of Pharmacists for a Smoke Free Canada. “Every time someone makes a quit attempt, they gain valuable knowledge that benefits them next time. So it’s not a failure; it’s an ongoing process – that’s what the journey is.”
Choosing the right method
For many, quitting cold turkey might seem like the best route to take, and perhaps it has been portrayed as a good option in the past. Cold turkey is, however, quite an outdated method when it comes to quitting. “The success rate for quitting cold turkey is pretty low: three to five percent,” says Ling. “It’s extremely hard for people to quit without help.”
Fortunately, there’s a plethora of tools available for anyone looking to quit these days. At the forefront of treatment is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as NICORETTE® or NICODERM®. “If you’re looking to quit for good, then you should try NRT,” says Ling. With NRT, we take all 3,999 of the chemicals from cigarettes away and we’re left with the safest, although addictive, one.”
In the NRT family, there’s a range of different products — like patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and sprays — which are well-known to the public. What’s not particularly common knowledge, however, is that a combination of these treatments can be used to help quit for good. “With an NRT like the patch, which is the long-acting method to provide consistent all day support, working together with a short-acting product like the lozenge or the gum which provides more immediate relief, there is a higher chance that the patient will quit,” explains Ling.
“Every time someone makes a quit attempt, they gain valuable knowledge that benefits them next time. So it’s not a failure; it’s an ongoing process – that’s what the journey is.”
In fact, according to a paper by Gay Sutherland titled Smoking: Can We Really Make a Difference?, a combination of NRT and behavioural support was shown to increase successful quit rates by more than ten times over willpower alone.
Not only that, but a blend of different methods and treatments can also be employed to further increase the chances of quitting successfully. “Another method I tell people to use is Reduce-to-Quit,” says Ling. This particular method has been steadily growing in popularity over the past number of years. According to the aforementioned Propel study, reducing cigarette consumption as a way to quit was used by nearly two thirds of people in 2012.
The Reduce-to-Quit technique works by first identifying the cigarettes that are easiest to cut out with the use of an NRT, such as gum, mouth spray, inhaler or lozenges, during the first six weeks. The next step is to then eliminate some of the more difficult cigarettes — like the first of the day and those smoked after meals — over the subsequent weeks. Eventually, with continued weaning off of cigarettes, and subsequently NRTs, many can achieve the smoke-free lives they’ve been striving for countless times before.