-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- In advance of
Thursday's Great American Smokeout, an expert offers some tips on
how to quit smoking.
Being mentally ready to quit smoking is the most important
indicator for success, said Robert DiGregorio, senior director of
pharmacy services at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and an expert in
For some people, graphic antismoking ads are a motivator. Others
may decide to quit due to education and awareness about the effects
of secondhand smoke on children. Still others quit because of the
high cost of smoking.
Regardless of their reasons, many people find it difficult to
quit. It can take an average of four tries over one to two years to
kick the habit, DiGregorio said. There are a variety of
questionnaires available online or from doctors that can help
smokers determine if they're ready to quit.
The simplest indicator is to ask yourself if you are thinking
about quitting in the next 30 days. If you are, then you are ready
to quit and should seek help from a health professional to develop
a specific plan, DiGregorio said in a hospital center news
He said the 30-day question is important for two reasons. First,
it has been shown to be an effective predictor of readiness.
Second, certain treatments take up to 14 days to be effective.
Many products are designed to help people quit smoking,
including nicotine patches and the medications Chantix
(varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion). Short-acting aids include
nicotine gum, inhalers, nasal spray and lozenges.
Chantix and Zyban are effective, but have drawbacks, according
to the news release. Chantix carries a warning about psychiatric
side effects, and Zyban has been linked to seizures and mood
disorders in some patients.
As for electronic cigarettes, the jury is still out on whether
they are a safe and effective way to help people quit smoking,
If you are trying to quit smoking and have cravings, DiGregorio
recommended using the five Ds: Delay until the urge passes, usually
three to five minutes; distract yourself; drink an ice-cold glass
of water; deep breaths to relax; and discuss your feelings with
DiGregorio said successful quitters have a support network or
coaches to help them get through the most difficult challenges and
reward themselves for success.
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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