Stop smoking help and information

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Stop smoking help and information

Have you been trying to quit smoking? If so, you might be interested to read about our range of stop smoking services with pharmacist Angela Chalmers

Published 29/12/2010

Boots pharmacist Angela Chalmers is often approached by people who want to stop smoking. The trouble is, often, they don't know where to start.

"People know they should give up and sometimes they really, really want to," says Angela. "You'll often see them in store, picking up a leaflet about stopping smoking or gazing uncertainly at the stop smoking products. But they don't know what to ask or what to buy."

Did you know?

Evidence suggests that if you use nicotine replacement therapy products you double your chances of stopping smoking for good.

It can feel difficult to approach someone about stopping smoking. Perhaps this is not the first time you've tried to quit and you're feeling under a lot of pressure to succeed. Or perhaps you've never really shared your desire to quit with anybody.

Book an appointment

Whatever the reason, Angela encourages everyone to make an appointment with their pharmacist or doctor as a starting point.

"Smoking is highly addictive and it's difficult to give up," she says. "Go easy on yourself and get the support. Our service is non-judgemental. We know nobody is perfect. Even if it's your fifth or sixth attempt at quitting just remember that - if you're determined - you will hit that point where it works for you."

The NHS Stop Smoking Service

Like many chemists, some Boots pharmacies operate an NHS Stop Smoking Service. This service lasts for around eight weeks. It starts with a confidential one to one appointment with your pharmacist and continues with regular counselling sessions. Your pharmacist will offer you support and encouragement and guide you through the myriad of stop smoking products.

Did you know?

People respond better to the short-term benefits that quitting can bring, as opposed to the long-term conditions that smoking will cause.

"We give ongoing support to help you through those first couple of months, which are often the hardest," says Angela. "We also check your carbon monoxide levels and offer you tailored Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Often, people don't know how to use NRT properly. They chew nicotine gum like normal gum (which is wrong) or just pop on a patch when they're desperate and this is when NRT may not work to its full potential. It's great to talk and take away some hints and tips to get yourself off to the best possible start."

What is Nicotine Replacement Therapy?

Nicotine Replacement Therapy - or NRT - refers to products that contain synthetic nicotine. NRT comes in a range of formats, including gums, lozenges, patches, inhalators and nasal sprays.

Did you know?

After 24 hours, your body is free from smoke-related carbon monoxide, meaning there is more oxygen in your blood stream. "You should find it easier to breathe and feel more energetic," says Angela.

"People worry they are going to get addicted to NRT but, on the rare occasions when people have become addicted to NRT products, it has been shown that breaking the addiction to NRT products is easier than breaking an addiction to cigarettes," says Angela.

How long does it take?

The Department of Health has quite specific measurements when it comes to defining what constitutes a "quitter". But, for Angela, every day off the cigarettes is an achievement. "I actually encourage people to think of themselves as a non-smoker from day one," she says. "Every day without a cigarette is an absolute success. People become perfectionists when they try to stop smoking. If people tell me they've had a few puffs, I ask, ?Did you enjoy it?' Chances are, they didn't."

Did you know?

Within 48 hours, there will be no nicotine in the body. Your sense of taste and smell will have greatly improved.

Withdrawal symptoms

One of the biggest barriers to people quitting smoking is their fear of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. There's no denying that these can be a challenging aspect of quitting, because nicotine is such an addictive substance.

"Sometimes, people think they felt better when they used to smoke," says Angela. "They can suffer from irritability, anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns. Even their bowel habits can change."

Did you know?

Within 10 years of quitting smoking, your risk of having a heart attack is the same as a non-smoker's.

But, believe it or not, some of these withdrawal symptoms are actually positive signs:

  • If you're suffering from a dry or productive cough, for example, Angela suggests this may be linked to your lungs starting to function normally again. Essentially, they're cleaning themselves out!
  • If you notice mouth ulcers, these may be connected to the fact the blood is returning to your gum area, giving you better gum health.

Did you know?

Within three months, your lung function will increase by up to 10%. "This is really important," says Angela. "Your quality of life will be much better as you get older than it would have been if you'd continued smoking. People with decreasing lung capacity may face mobility issues and even require support from oxygen therapy or inhalers."

  • Doctors agree they would rather people put on some weight than carried on smoking. "The fear of gaining weight is a big issue for people," says Angela. "When you smoke, your metabolism is slightly higher and you absorb fewer nutrients from your food. When you stop, your metabolism dips. Also, your tastebuds and sense of smell revive." Some ex-smokers find themselves turning to food as a substitute for cigarettes. Angela advises:

    1. Drink a lot of water since you may be mistaking hunger pangs for thirst.
    2. If you need to snack, try healthy carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes or a small square of dark chocolate as a treat.
    3. And try to eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay active. "Any excess weight will come off if you focus on it," says Angela.

Did you know?

Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate will be lower and your risk of a heart attack starts to fall.

Health benefits

Quitting smoking may seem daunting but, says Angela, there's a good mixture of long term and short term benefits. If stubbing out that last cigarette is something you long for but you're not really sure how to go about it, why not have a chat with a Boots pharmacist? "Pharmacists help address these fears so people can go away feeling really confident," says Angela.

Read more like this:
How I quit smoking

Related categories:
Stop smoking
Pain relief

Find out more on BootsWebMD:
See our smoking cessation health information centre
13 best ever tips to stop smoking

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