Updated: Aug 5
Even smokers are aware that smoking causes a lot of damage to our bodies. However, we all know that quitting smoking is not easy. In this article, we will explore some tips about smoking cessation and programs available in BC, hopefully for smokers who are attempting to or in the process of quitting, will find this information helpful and thus increasing their chances to quit smoking successfully..
Studies have shown a large proportion of smokers have had the thought of quitting smoking. But only 30% chose to use psychological aids and/or medications to help quit smoking while the remaining 70% chose to quit without any assistance. Unfortunately, the latter option only has a success rate of approximately 5%.
Did you know that the nicotine found inside cigarettes can have the same level of dependency as heroin? Once smoking becomes a habit, it becomes more and more difficult to quit, about 50-60% of smokers will go back to smoking within a year of starting a smoking cessation program. Therefore, if you know someone who is in the process of quitting but goes back to smoking, be supportive, it is completely normal and should be assured not to feel discouraged. Successful smoking cessation often needs multiple attempts, as long as they’re determined to try again and again, they will eventually be able to quit successfully.
Mental or psychological support is one of the most important factors behind the effectiveness of smoking cessation medication. Although there is paid psychological counselling, mental support from friends and family in addition to avoidance of social events involving smoking can be of great benefit to the individual as well.
Types of Smoking Cessation Treatments
Smoking cessation medications can double the chance of successful smoking cessation. Current smoking cessation drugs can be categorized into over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. All smoking cessation drugs have a similar chance of success, therefore the main concerns when selecting the right medication for the individual include the health condition, smoking habits, living habits, and financial status.
OTC Smoking Cessation drugs - Nicotine replacement products
These products provide a lower dosage of nicotine compared to cigarettes, which allows the individual to decrease the chances of inhaling carcinogens from cigarette smoke and decrease cigarette usage.
Nicotine patches can be applied on the upper arms, upper chest, or upper back and are meant to be replaced every 24 hours. Nicotine patches provide a low dosage of nicotine per hour through the skin, making it more suitable for frequent smokers or people with higher nicotine dependence.
Nicotine Gum, Lozenges, and inhalers
These nicotine replacement products have a shorter duration of action. Therefore, it is recommended for individuals who smoke out of psychological needs or habitual factors.
Individuals who have a higher nicotine dependence, or first-time attempting individuals can consider daily administration of nicotine patches in addition to the usage of nicotine gum/lozenges/inhalers when needed.
It is important to note that the nicotine replacement products mentioned above all have different dosages, routes of administration, and precautions. Please consult a pharmacist’s opinion before deciding on which smoking cessation product or treatment to try.
Prescription Smoking Cessation Drugs - Bupropion, Varenicline
Bupropion can relieve the withdrawal symptoms related to smoking cessation, while Varenicline can decrease the pleasure that is associated with smoking in addition to relieving withdrawal symptoms.
The two prescription medications mentioned above may not suit everyone. Please consult your family physician or pharmacist to determine the right medication, treatment, and dosage for you.
BC Government Assistance
As of now, the BC government is providing 3 months of free nicotine replacement products for BC residents. Prescription smoking cessation drugs may also receive support under the BC Fair Pharmacare Plan. Although quitting smoking is difficult, with the combination of support from friends and family, willingness to try smoking cessation treatments, perseverance to try multiple times, and the courage to take the first step will lead to a pathway of successful smoking cessation!