Becoming a nonsmoker
Cigarette smoking and tobacco abuse are responsible for approximately 130,000 cancer deaths, 170,000 heart disease deaths, and 50,000 lung disease deaths annually in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. For most nicotine addicts it often requires many attempts at quitting to be successful. The key to quitting is to commit to a smoking cessation program that suits your needs and/or using a smoking cessation aid if necessary.
Set a quit day
The most important factor for quitting successfully is to set a QUIT DAY and stick to it. A special day like a birthday or anniversary is often chosen. Once you decide on a quit day, begin by changing your environment and your behavior patterns. Get rid of your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, and other smoking paraphernalia. Be sure to get rid of everything at home, in your car, and at your workplace. Another suggestion is to switch to a brand of “light” cigarettes to acclimate your body to lower levels of nicotine.
Building a support network
It’s important to have the support of family and friends when you quit. They should refrain from smoking around you and not leave cigarettes or lighters within your reach where the temptation will be hard to overcome.
The urge to smoke isn’t going to disappear overnight. It’s important to understand that quitting smoking is not an isolated event but a lifetime decision. When urges occur, find ways to counteract them. Changing behaviors you associate with smoking will help. Go for a walk, drink water, deep breathe, or find some task to perform are some examples of strategies to use to get through the urge. Remember, the urge to smoke will pass whether you do or not.
Using nicotine replacement or nicotine addiction therapy
Several therapies are available to help you handle urges while quitting. When used properly, these aides can greatly increase your chances of quitting for good. Chantix is the only medication designed specifically to help smokers quit. It is available by prescription. Bupropion SR is another prescription medication that helps minimize urges and the withdrawal effects of quitting.
Nicotine patches and gum are available over the counter. Patients should ask their doctor for advice in choosing which medications may work best for them. Patients with specific medical conditions may be limited to which medication they use.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Some people attempting to quit may find themselves backsliding and sneaking a cigarette. This is common and should not discourage you. Learn from these mistakes and keep trying. Most people require several attempts at quitting before making it permanent, so don’t give up!!
Smoking cessation education
Smoking is one of the single most preventable causes of disease and premature death in the US. As a tobacco user, giving up this addiction is one of the most important changes you can make to improve your health.
Many smokers want to quit and most have tried at one time. But quitting smoking is often very difficult. Studies show that smoking cessation aides can help (see some options in the menu to the right) as can participation in a smoking cessation program. Below is a list of program resources:
- Lancaster Regional Medical Center Cardiopulmonary Rehab Dept. (717) 291-8377
- The Pennsylvania Department of Health FREE QUITLINE (877) 724-1090
- American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345
- American Lung Association (800) 586-4872
- National Cancer Institute (800) 422-6237
- American Heart Association (800) 242-8721
- Foundation for a Smoke-free America
- Surgeon General
- National Centers for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDC)
- Nicotine Anonymous Website (877) TRY-NICA
Smoking cessation aides
Studies show that using a smoking cessation aide improves your chances of successfully quitting over “cold turkey” alone. Some examples are included below.
If you are a patient at Lancaster Regional, as a consumer of tobacco products, you will receive smoking cessation materials in an effort to help you quit smoking and improve your health. Lancaster Regional also has smoking cessation aides available for use while you are hospitalized, such as those below.
Nicotine Gum: Available without a prescription in 2 and 4 mg doses, not to exceed 20 pieces per day. Can be used for 2-3 months It is briefly chewed and then “parked” in mouth. Nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth. Delivers the nicotine more quickly than the patch. Do not eat or drink if you are chewing the nicotine gum or have it “parked”. DO NOT SMOKE WHILE USING!
Nicotine Lozenges: Available without a prescription in 2 and 4 mg doses, not to exceed 20 lozenges per day. 4 mg doses are for people who smoke their first cigarettes within 30 mins. of waking up, 2 mg for those who wait more than 30 mins. to smoke their first cigarette. Recommend using for a full 12 weeks. It is to be sucked on and moved side to side until it dissolves. Will deliver the nicotine more quickly than the patch. DO NOT SMOKE WHILE USING THIS PRODUCT!
Nicotine Patch: Most patches are available over the counter. Patches are applied to the skin every day so they release a steady dose of nicotine through the skin. Use 21 or 14 mg to begin and taper to 7 mg. Use for 2-3 months. Patches release the nicotine more slowly than gum or lozenges and occasionally irritate the skin and cause vivid dreams. DO NOT SMOKE ONCE YOU BEGIN USING THE PATCH!
Nicotine Spray: Available by prescription, the spray is inhaled through the nostril every 1-2 hours. May be used for up to 3 months and then gradually tapered. It delivers nicotine the fastest, so it is good at relieving sudden cravings. Initially, it may cause nose and sinus irritation, which usually lessens with time. People with allergies and asthma should not use. DO NOT SMOKE WHILE USING THE SPRAY!
Nicotine Inhaler: Available by prescription, this unit delivers nicotine through a cartridge as the person inhales. May use at least 6 cartridges per day for 3-6 weeks, then taper off. Use up to 3 months. It delivers nicotine about as quickly as the gum. May cause mouth or throat irritation. Should not be used by people with asthma or chronic lung disease. DO NOT SMOKE WHILE USING THIS PRODUCT!
Nicotine Addiction Therapy:
Varenicline (Chantix): Available by prescription, this medication blocks the effects of nicotine and eases withdrawal symptoms. Chantix is approved for an initial 12 week course of therapy. If cessation is successful, an additional 12 weeks of therapy may improve long-term success. Low dose Chantix is taken once daily for 3 days then twice a day through the end of the first week. Cessation occurs at the end of the first week. The dose is then increased and continued twice daily for the remainder of the treatment. Side effects may include nausea, gas, abnormal dreams, depression, headache, and changes in taste. It is not recommended to use Chantix in combination with nicotine products.
Bupropion Hydrochloride: (Zyban or Wellbutrin SR): Available by prescription, this pill is a non-nicotine drug that reduces cravings. The pill is taken once a day for 3 days then increased to 2 pills per day taken 12 hours apart. Use up to 2 weeks before quitting, and can be used for a total of 12 weeks. Can also be used in conjunction with nicotine replacement therapy (remember once you start a nicotine product you MAY NOT smoke). The pill is easy to use but may have side effects such as headache or insomnia. Should not be used if you have seizures, eating disorders, are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are using MAO inhibitors.
If you would like additional information, please call (717) 291-8377.