When you decide to quit smoking, call the Lung Association or the Canadian Cancer Society for a list of smoking-cessation programs (Health Canada has a hot line for teens). Because such a wide range of smokers exists, doctors and counselors now offer programs tailor-made for different people, including pregnant women and teens. If you’re unsure of which is best for you, speak to your doctor.
Many smokers decide one day to stop smoking and stay away from cigarettes. Unfortunately, most relapse because they didn’t think about why they were quitting beforehand. If you go this route, pick your “quit day” in advance, suggests Krista Saleh of the Lung Association. Then, record how many cigarettes you smoke until your quit day and the reasons why you smoked. By setting a date, you have time to get used to the idea that you’re quitting and think about why you’re doing it. For some people, cold turkey is difficult to maintain because other methods usually wean you off nicotine slowly instead of instantaneously.
Acupuncture, hypnosis and aversion therapy
Practised for centuries in East Asia as therapy for certain illnesses, acupuncture is gaining popularity in North America. An acupuncturist selects certain points in the nose to decongest the respiratory tract and create an aversion to tobacco. The newest trend is the updated laser acupuncture. Instead of pins, the acupuncturist aims lasers on pressure points of the ear, nose and wrists. Some believe this releases certain endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – which alleviates withdrawal symptoms. Both hypnosis and acupuncture are partnered with aversion therapy, which promotes quitting by modifying how you feel about cigarettes. Crucial to any of these methods, however, is the candidate’s belief that the therapy will work, says Dr. Pliamm. Scientists are at a loss to explain exactly how these methods get results.
Three patches are manufactured in Canada: Nicoderm by Hoechst Marion Roussel, Habitrol by Ciba-Geigy and Nicotrol by McNeil Consumer Products.
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Available in strengths ranging from five to 21 milligrams, the patch is placed on a dry non-hairy area of your upper arm or above the waist, where the nicotine is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. The patch relieves the irritability, anxiety and cravings associated with quitting, but there can be negative side effects. Some people experience a burning irritation where the patch is applied, upset stomach, vomiting and light-headedness. Before using the patch, ask your doctor or pharmacist how to use it correctly. You may take up to 12 weeks to be smoke-free with this method. Some insurance plans cover the cost.
If you miss the oral fix, you may want to try this chewing gum, now available over-the-counter in two-milligram strength. If chewed properly for half an hour, each piece delivers about 90 percent of the nicotine of one cigarette. Chew the gum twice, then “park” it between your cheek and gum for a minute, allowing the nicotine to be absorbed into the bloodstream. When you crave a cigarette, chew one piece, up to a maximum of 20 a day. Treatment can take from three to six weeks, depending on the extent of your habit. Tests have shown Nicorette can alleviate cravings, weight gain and anxiety. But like any method, Nicorette has its downside – jaw fatigue, unpleasant taste and possible damage to dental work.