Prevention & Recovery

6 ways to quit smoking

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Prevention & Recovery

6 ways to quit smoking

Although their numbers have dropped drastically -- only 20 per cent of Canadians smoke today compared with about 50 per cent back in 1965 -- a significant five million people keep puffing away. A nicotine habit is probably as difficult to break as an addiction to heroin and that's perhaps why an estimated 95 per cent of smokers who try to quit cold turkey will fail. If you or a loved one is planning to quit, your chances of success could double if you try one or more of the following stop-smoking aids.

1. Nicotine patch
What it is
An adhesive square, similar to a bandage, containing slow-release nicotine. Comes in 21-, 14- and seven- milligram strengths. (Smokers typically ingest about one milligram of nicotine for each cigarette smoked.)

Where it's available
Available at drugstores across the country.

Advantages
Releases a constant supply of nicotine. Lasts 24 hours.

Drawbacks/side-effects
Can't be adjusted for strong cravings. Can cause sleep disturbances when not removed at night.

What it costs
About $4.30 per day.

2. Nicotine gum
What it is
A sugarless gum containing two or four milligrams of nicotine. Maximum daily dose: 20 to 30 pieces.

Where it's available
Available at drugstores across the country.

Advantages
Convenient to use. Flexible dosing. Faster nicotine intake than the patch.

Drawbacks/side-effects
Can cause stomach upset, hiccups and sore teeth or jaw. The four-milligram gum can be habit-forming.*

What it costs
About $6.50 per day for the maximum dose of 20 pieces.

3. Nicotine inhaler
What it is
A cartridge that delivers nicotine when you puff on it. A four-milligram cartridge has the equivalent amount of nicotine of about two cigarettes (minus all the harmful additives) and lasts about 20 minutes of continuous puffing. Maximum recommended daily dose: 16 cartridges.

Where it's available
Available at drugstores across the country.

Advantages
Simple, flexible and dose-controlled. Mimics the hand-to-mouth behaviour of smoking, which can make quitting less stressful.

Drawbacks/side-effects
Can irritate the lining of the mouth. Can be habit-forming.*

What it costs
About $15 per day for the maximum recommended dose of 16 cartridges.

* The four-milligram gum and inhaler can be habit-forming; however, studies show only one per cent of people are still using nicotine gum after one year. Furthermore, studies suggest that relying on these replacement products is much healthier than smoking.

Page 1 of 2 - on the next page: more tips to help butt out.

4. Nicotine lozenge
What it is
The Resolve lozenge, which contains no nicotine but the patented ingredient Cestemenol-350, disrupts the body's ability to metabolize nicotine. Used while you continue to smoke, it gradually reduces the body's desire for nicotine.

Where it's available
Available at drugstores across the country.

Advantages
Don't have to give up smoking cold turkey. Helps curb addiction slowly. Contains no nicotine.

Drawbacks/side-effects
No known side-effects.

What it costs
About $4.30 per day.

5. Zyban (bupropion)
What it is
A mild antidepressant that interrupts dopamine and norepinephrine brain chemicals, and contains no nicotine, which helps curb nicotine-withdrawal symptoms.

Where it's available
By prescription only.

Advantages
Helps level out mood swings. Nonaddictive. Contains no nicotine.

Drawbacks/side-effects
Can cause insomnia, strange dreams and dry mouth. Should not be taken with alcohol or certain medications. On rare occasions, it can cause allergic reactions or seizures, especially in people prone to seizures.

What it costs
About $2.25 per day .**

** Some private health plans cover prescription smoking-cessation drugs, while others cover only the first prescription. To date, Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that covers these types of drugs under its provincial drug plan.

6. Counselling and self-help groups
What they are
Smoking-cessation techniques that, combined with physical aids such as patches or gum, can significantly increase your chances of permanent success.

Where they're available
Across the country in hospitals, churches and community centres. Programs are also available online.

Some examples include:
• Nicotine Anonymous (www.nicotine-anonymous.org) holds drop-in meetings in many cities across Canada.
• SmokEnders (www.smokenders.com) offers a step-by-step program to help smokers "unlearn" how to smoke.
• Health Canada's E-Quit program (www.hc-sc.gc.ca) offers free supportive daily e-mail messages. (Teens can check out www.quit4life.com.)
• Quit smoking manuals from the Canadian Cancer Society (www.cancer.ca) and Ontario Lung Association (www.on.lung.ca). To order a kit, call 1-888-566-5864 (LUNG).
• The Smokers' Approach to Stopping Smoking offers a video and counselling session with Dr. Frederic Bass, the medical director and founder of the B.C. Stop-Smoking Program. Available from the Public Broadcasting Group Inc. for $24.95 (plus shipping and handling); call 1-866-757-5573.

For more info on quit-smoking programs near you, contact your provincial smoking hotline.
• Newfoundland and Labrador: 1-800-363-5864, www.smokershelp.net
• Prince Edward Island: 1-888-818-6300
• Nova Scotia: 1-877-513-5333
• New Brunswick: 1-877-513-5333, www.smokershelpline.ca
• Quebec, 1-866-527-7383, pq.lung.ca and www.jarrete.qc.ca
• Ontario: 1-877-513-5333, www.smokershelpline.ca
• Manitoba: 1-877-513-5333
• Saskatchewan: 1-877-513-5333
• Alberta: 1-866-33A-ADAC, alberta.quitnet.com
• British Columbia: 1-877-455-2233, quitnow.ca
• Nunavut: 1-866-877-3845
• Northwest Territories, call your public health unit or 1-800-0-Canada
• Yukon: 1-800-661-0408 (ext. 8393)

Read more:
12 bad health habits and how to fix them
5 steps to healthier habits
Youths dragged down by smoking

Check out:
CanadianLiving.com Health
CanadianLiving.com Prevention

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6 ways to quit smoking

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