New Year’s Eve is around the corner which means that resolutions are going to be made and broken. The decision to quit smoking is by far the most popular New Year’s Resolution, but one out of every five smoker who tries to quit relapses within a day! So why is quitting so hard? Tobacco addiction is like drug addiction or alcoholism and comprises of a cluster of cognitive, behavioural and psychological phenomena which makes it hard to quit. One has to remember that very few people manage to quit in their first attempt. So here are the various smoking cessation techniques:
Cold Turkey – The oldest and most successful method is going ‘cold turkey’ that is quitting smoking without taking any substitute for nicotine. 75% people who’ve quit smoking claim to have done so without the aid of any aid or supplement. Coupled with therapy and intervention cold turkey is supposed to be the best way to quit. There are various websites and helplines which help people quit without the aid of any medicines. Most replacement therapies look to chemically substitute the nicotine hit of smoking but it just means switching from one addiction to another. One of the champions of cold turkey was Allen Carr, a chain smoker who quit smoking and went on to write a book entitled The Easy Way to Quit Smoking which is the most popular book on quitting smoking in the world. Many people have quit smoking after reading his book and this list include celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, Richard Branson, Anthony Hopkins and closer home Mahesh Babu and Hrithik Roshan. Allen Carr’s basic principle was despite overwhelming evidence which points out the hazards of smoking people don’t quit because they think of quitting as ‘giving in’ or giving up.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) – NRT looks to take care of nicotine craving by providing a substitute source without the harmful effects of tobacco. It works on the principle that though nicotine is the ‘addictive’ part of cigarettes the more dangerous ones are tar, carbon monoxide and other gases. There are various products under this Nicorette umbrella which look to aid cessation including – chewing gums, lozenges, nasal sprays, patches and inhalers. Some electronic cigarettes also have nicotine filters. Real world studies have shown that NRT’s aren’t as effective as pharmaceutical companies claim. In the real world, 95% who have taken OTC medication have relapsed.
Other medical aid – Several other companies have come out with smoking cessation drugs that don’t look to replace nicotine. One such drug is Bupripion which is marketed as an anti-depressant, smoking cessation drug and anti-obesity pill. It works on the principle that smoking is a form of countering depression and an antidepressant can perform the same function. Another popular drug is Pfizer’s Varenicline which reduces cravings by making the effects of nicotine less pleasurable. There are various side-effects of these drugs. Varenicline is known to cause suicidal thoughts, depression, drowsiness, nausea and the USFDA even claimed that it can cause cardiovascular disease.
Electronic cigarettes – An electronic cigarette is a device that mimics the entire smoking process by producing a mist which has the same sensation (sometimes the same flavour too) of smoking. Some of them have nicotine and some of them don’t. Click here to read more about e-cigarettes.
It’s not hard to quit smoking. According to WHO, smoking has killed 100 million people in the 20thcentury alone and is responsible for 60% of all non-communicable disease deaths. There is no moral defence for smoking and it’s time to kick the butt. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones especially your children (second smoke kills 200,000 children every year). So take a stand and say goodbye to the cancer stick this year!
Also read: War on Cancer