Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health and to reduce your risk of cancer.
No matter how long you have smoked, quitting will benefit your health now and in the future. It will also benefit the health of your friends and family and save you money.
Reasons to Quit
- 24 hours – nearly all nicotine is out of your system and carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped to allow more efficient oxygen use
- 1 week – sense of smell and taste improves
- 1 month – blood pressure improves, and immune system starts to recover
- 1 year – risk of heart disease is half that of a person continuing to smoke
- 10 years – risk of lung cancer is halved
Approaches to Quitting
There are different methods for quitting smoking and products you can use to help you cope with cravings for a cigarette. Choose a method that is safe, effective and suits you. Stick with the tried and tested approaches and be wary of methods or products that seem too good to be true.
Nicotine is highly addictive and it might take you multiple attempts to quit for good. Keep trying and get the support you need. Whatever method you choose, always plan and prepare for your quit attempt. This will improve your chances of success.
Quitline provides access to self-help resources, advice, support, and confidential telephone counselling for smokers who want to quit. Quitline staff can help you to understand why you smoke, assist you in making a plan to quit, and provide you with encouragement and information to help you stick with quitting. You can also ask to use the Quitline call-back counselling service: meaning you can ask staff to make follow-up calls, at convenient times, to see how you are going with quitting. Research has found that using this kind of service can increase the chances of quitting successfully.
Click here to order a free Quit Pack.
Cold Turkey vs Cutting Down
One way to stop smoking is to go “cold turkey”, which means stopping cigarettes completely without cutting down and relying on willpower to get through cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Although this approach can be popular, it isn’t as successful as using a combination of methods and support.
Cutting down involves slowly reducing the number of cigarettes until you quit completely. Gradual approaches are not
recommended unless they are part of a well-structured program 1. If you do choose a gradual approach you can reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day or the time between cigarettes until you no longer have any cigarettes.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products can assist highly dependent smokers who are motivated to quit. They are designed to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms while the person quitting concentrates on breaking the habit. It is important if you choose to use NRT that you read and follow the instructions on how to use these products in order to maximise their effectiveness. There are several different forms of NRT including: patches, gum, inhalators, lozenges and mouth spray. A doctor or pharmacist can help determine the best NRT for you and explain how to use the products. Research shows that nicotine replacement products are most helpful for people who smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day.
Speak with your GP if you are interested in using Champix or Zyban. When combined with counselling, these prescription medications have been shown to increase chances of quitting. These medications can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, but may not stop them completely.
Some people try acupuncture, hypnotherapy, herbal and other alternative therapies. However, there is insufficient evidence these methods help you quit.
Talking to your Local Health Professionals
Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health professionals can be a good source of advice and information to help smokers to quit. Your GP or pharmacist is best-placed to advise on whether NRT or other drug therapies are suitable for you. You can also call Quitline 13 7848 available Monday-Friday 7.00am- 10.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9.00am to 5.00pm & Public Holidays 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Coping with Recovery Symptoms
The first few days of quitting can be the hardest, but after a week or two most of these symptoms will disappear.
To help you cope with cravings try the 4Ds:
- Delay acting on the urge to smoke for at least five minutes.
- Deep breathe in and out slowly and deeply.
- Do something else to help keep your hands and mind busy.
- Drink water and sip slowly.
Free Quit Apps
1. Australian Government Department of Health. (2020). How to Quit smoking. Retrieved 28 April 2020, from https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/smoking-and-tobacco/how-to-quit-smoking