Have you resolved to give smoking the flick in 2015? Photo: Tamara Voninski
Smokers know cigarettes suck the life out of them.
A colossal 90 per cent of smokers know they should give it the flick.
There are the unavoidable, confronting photos on the front of every pack. There is also the well-quoted statistic that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world.
Despite 19,000 deaths and 142,500 hospital episodes annually in Australia as a result of smoking, people still do it.
However, we are doing it less.
Which is heartening for those looking for a breath of fresh air in 2015: millions of people have managed to quit smoking and you can too.
First is making the decision to do it. For all those who know they should, only about 20 per cent are committed to doing it.
Part of committing involves knowing that it is worth it.
With all the depressing figures about smoking, it can be easy to think that once you start there is no point stopping.
However, recent research shows that the risk of dying from smoking-related causes drops significantly within just a few years of giving up cigarettes, even for longtime smokers.
Whether it is to improve fitness, because you want to start a family, save money, or have seen the health implications on others or yourself, knowing why you want to will help you succeed.
So will believing you can do it. People who believe in their ability are more likely to achieve their goal.
As for how, there are different routes to the same destination. Hypnotherapy works for some, while going cold turkey is effective for others. Gradually decreasing intake or using nicotine patches or gum is one approach, while seeking support through counselling – either in person, online, or over the phone – is another.
But new research suggests that taking a multi-pronged approach may be the most effective method.
In the study of more than 16,000 smokers, those who used a quitline and a web-based support program recorded the most success.
“Although telephone and web-based interventions are effective in tobacco cessation, providing access to multiple types of cessation services might improve the odds of users in achieving long-term cessation,” the researchers said.
Interestingly, for women quitting smoking, timing it with your period might also help you quit. The study showed that those who tried to quit at the start of their period had stronger withdrawals and cravings. Putting it down to hormonal changes during a cycle, researchers suggested the best time for women to quit was post ovulation – about halfway between periods.
Whatever method you choose, chatting to a medical professional first to explore your options is a good start and can help you navigate your best course of action.
And it’s worth remembering that if at first you fail, pick yourself up and try again.
“The most important aspect to smoking cessation is maintaining the motivation to make multiple attempts,” the authors of a paper by the National Institute on Drug Abuse said.
“Thus, quit attempts should be thought of like practise sessions in learning a new skill – at some point one hopes to ‘get it right’, but one should not put undue hope on any single given quit attempt, and take solace in knowing the probability of success increases with each try.”
* This article is brought to you by Nicabate: