Want to finally quit smoking? Get some helpful tips from the experts…

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

Deciding to quit smoking is the single best thing that you can do for your health. Congratulations! You are on the road to a healthier, happier you. Like any bad habit quitting smoking is not easy. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and your brain and body crave it. You also associate smoking with daily rituals known as trigger factors, which is why it can be so hard to break the cycle of smoking. The good news is that there are many products, both over the counter (OTC) and on prescription available in your pharmacy that can help you on the road to a smoke free life. Your Pharmacist or Doctor can help to advise you on what products are best suited to you, depending on how you smoke and how many cigarettes that you smoke.  They can also provide you with general advice on how to keep that willpower going!

smoking 2

Deciding to quit is the first step below are a few helpful hints and tips on how to keep going:

  1. List your trigger factors and try to avoid or change those situations for at least the first month of quitting. This will increase your chances of success.

Common trigger factors would be:

  • First thing in the morning
  • With tea/coffee
  • In the car
  • Breaks at work
  • With a social drink
  • After a meal
  1. Be kind to yourself
  • Accept that it is extremely hard to quit and take each day at a time. I often tell my patients to not tell themselves that they will never smoke again but rather to tell themselves that they will not smoke today. This will help you not to panic at the thought of never having another cigarette. It is after all a habit that you enjoy, so the thought of never smoking again can be enough to make you fall off the wagon!
  • Reward yourself when you take a positive step forward, such as being cigarette free for a day, a week, two weeks. But do not punish yourself for slipping up. Just get back on the wagon.
  1. Declare your intentions to family and friends so that they can help to support you. Also clearing ashtrays from your home, washing clothes that smell of cigarettes and cleaning the car can help to remove reminders of smoking from your immediate environment.
  2. Prepare healthy snacks. Oranges are particularly good in this instance as peeling them keeps your hands busy and the strong flavour will help to distract from the cravings.
  3. Distract yourself when you are overcome with a craving by fully immersing yourself in an activity. Even brushing your teeth can be a distraction and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and not smoky!                        smoking 3It can also be helpful to remember that the health benefits to quitting smoking are immediate. They are a reminder to you about how far you have come.Health benefits timeline:

    After 20 mins: Your heart rate returns to normal.

    After 8 hours: Oxygen levels return to normal.

    After 48 hours: Your body is cleared of carbon monoxide. Lungs begin to rid themselves of mucus and other debris. Smell and taste improves.

    2-12 weeks: Circulation and breathing improves. Walking is easier and skin is more radiant.

    >12 weeks: Lung function increases by up to 10%. Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems reduce.

    After 1 year: Risk of heart disease is halved compared to someone who is still smoking.

    After 10 years: Your chance of getting lung cancer is half of that of a current smoker.

    After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of someone who has never smoked.

     

    Good luck and remember that your Pharmacist is always here to help in any way that they can!

 

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Quitters’ Update 2nd April 2014

rigaHi again everyone and welcome to our last Quitters’ Blog! Fitting perhaps as this week marks the 10th anniversary of the Smoking Ban in Ireland. As it’s our last update, I suppose a summary of my quitting experience is in order. First things first though – some self-praise!

Pictured this week you’ll see my beautiful non-smoker friends in Riga. You may remember my first purchase with my smoking savings was a trip to the Latvian Capital and we are just back. This was my last big milestone I think. Smokers, you’ll know what it’s like preparing to get on a plane for 2 and ½ hours! I was really dreading walking by all those smokers before you enter the airport.

Thankfully, it all went off without a hitch (relapse). Mind you, I did forget my Nicorette Inhaler and had trouble getting one in Riga so I opted for a temporary e-cigarette. While it did the job, I much prefer the inhaler as it’s far less rough on your throat and indeed, you know what you’re getting with something you buy in the pharmacy. In any event, whether it was due to my extra-sensitivity to smokers or true to fact, it seemed to me that smoking was far more popular and ‘in-your-face’ in Riga. There is a smoking ban but there seemed to be more people than you’d see here outside shops, restaurants and pubs sneaking in a quick cigarette. This did present the temptation to smoke again, I’ll be honest. But my fabulous friends were there for encouragement so I remain smoke-free.

So how would I summarise this journey? I made the decision to quit in January, mainly for health reasons and for my friends & family. Without doubt, the publicity that came with writing this blog made it possible; I don’t think I would have been successful without it. But it was also in the preparation. See below; this is a check-list for giving up smoking and I highly recommend you do the same before you quit.

quit

You really have to have a plan for the tempting situations you know you’ll find yourself in – the pub, a crisis in work, bad news… And you also need a method of distraction for the evening time – mine was knitting and this genuinely helped me keep my mind and my hands occupied. And DEFINITELY, pick yourself a new exercise. Putting on weight is commons so ensure you tackle it to avoid demotivation.

The most important aspect of the whole quitting thing is SUPPORT. I was very lucky to have the full support of all my colleagues and social network. None of my smoker pals smoke in front of me or offer me a cigarette. I continuously get praise for my efforts from those around me at home and in work (and I AM a glutton for this!). And comments from our blog readers also keep you going. Quitting with my boyfriend was a huge benefit so we could support each other. It was also incredibly motivating to read the updates from my fellow Bloggers as they continued to battle the cravings. Thanks so much to David, Alison, Ciara and Lyndsey for volunteering to share their journeys with you all. I really hope we helped either keep you motivated or gave you some encouragement to consider quitting.

nmaoSo there you have it, I’m a non-smoker. And have been since the 13th of January. Never thought I’d see the day! Last picture is me with a map of Malta… Yes, you guessed it! I only went and booked another holiday. And no, they’re not paying me too much here but this trip is also being paid for with the money I’ve saved from smoking. Myself and my lovely boyfriend are off in two weeks for some well-deserved non-smoking fun after all this good work quitting.

Thanks to everyone who read and shared this blog and here’s hoping my fellow bloggers and I will be back in touch with you next year, still smoke-free and still full of the joys of health!

Best of luck to any of you trying to quit. Check out http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/SmokingControl, www.quit.ie or speak to your pharmacist if you need support.

All the best,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update: Ash Wednesday

naomiHi again everyone and Happy National No Smoking Day. It’s been almost a month since you heard from me and my fellow quitters. I promised we’d make an appearance again as Lent kicks off so here we are… well, here I am anyway! We’ll be hearing how our other bloggers have been doing over the coming weeks.

Ash Wednesday as traditionally been a day when smokers decide to attempt to quit and we can certainly see that in our pharmacies today. Do you know, I think giving up chocolate would be much more difficult than quitting – and that’s from someone who’s been smoke-free since January 13th! Yes, I’m still a non-smoker, and am now finished using my Nicorette Inhaler also, though I still carry it with me when socialising. And I feel great!

It has not been easy, I’ll be completely honest. I have put on weight due to eating more, and it did take quite a while for my skin to return to normal. There were times when I really wondered whether it was worth it. But today, writing to you before going out for a run, I can tell you it IS worth it. There is no way the old Naomi would have managed a run in the evening without collapsing! And my car and clothes and skin all look and smell so clean!

This is all so much more poignant a topic given the sad passing of Gerry Collins this week, the face of the HSE’s Quit Campaign last December. At the launch of the campaign in December last year, Gerry said the ads were an opportunity to show the dangers of smoking and that he took solace from the fact he would be able to say goodbye to his family unlike those who die suddenly. “I hope to continue in the fight against smoking,” he said in December. For me, it’s a nice legacy to leave behind. “People who are killed in a car crash never get to say goodbye. I’ve an opportunity to say goodbye. As sad and all as it is for the family, they’re very lucky. “If I can get through the day with a bit of peace and contentment every day, that’s good enough for me. If I can spend time with the kids, I’m happy with that.”

Gerry’s words make me happier and prouder still that I’ve managed to stay smoke-free for this long and more determined than ever to see it through.

If you have been thinking of quitting or know someone in your family who wants to, please please speak to your GP, your pharmacist or health care assistant about how to start. You are TWICE as likely to be successful in quitting with 1-2-1 coaching and support so services like our Smoking Control service can really help you. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice on breaking the habit. Quitting smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make for your health. Why wait?!

Chat soon,
Naomi…

Quitters’ Weekend Update: Week 4

boozeHere we go again!! Today’s picture features me with my greatest temptation – the booze. It’s the weekend and that means a drink or two (I really need to consider staying in a bit more!) and a drink or two usually means Naomi gasping for a cigarette. This is my fourth weekend as a non-smoker and here’s hoping I eventually start forgetting cigarettes, or indeed stop dreading the thoughts of visiting the pub quite so much.

Tonight, I’ve a date with my boyfriend who is also in the midst of quitting. There’ll be no one else there to distract us, no other quitters or non-smokers about to act as our conscience. This will be a real test for us both. If any of you sees me about the capital tonight, please do feel free to give me a nod of encouragement or a friendly high-five!

Before we hear from the lovely Lyndsey again, something I read today shocked me. See below a link to an article about smoking trends amongst pregnant women in Ireland. Before now, I always thought that if I ever got pregnant, that would be the one thing that would make me give up immediately and permanently.

(Please don’t panic friends & family – I’m well aware I can barely mind myself so no immediate maternity plans!)

I think most smokers would be of the same opinion. Shockingly though, Ireland has a higher rate of smoking during pregnancy than the US, with between 18 and 21 per cent of women unable (or opting not) to quit the habit while carrying a baby. I spoke in an earlier blog about finding your motivation… I can’t think of one more compelling! Indeed our own Lyndsey is doing her best to become a non-smoker before she thinks about having more children.

journal

http://www.thejournal.ie/smoking-pregnant-ireland-1176546-Nov2013/

Reading this got me thinking about how lucky I’ve been in that this quitting has been a mostly positive experience for me. It hasn’t been that difficult, once I had made the decision to go through with it. But it must be so much more difficult for others, particularly those women who do not give up during pregnancy.

This just emphasises the importance of SUPPORT, MOTIVATION and MEDICATION.  You have to make it easier on yourself.  If you’re finding it difficult, please ask about Smoking Control in your local LloydsPharmacy, or a similar service in another pharmacy, or indeed check out www.quit.ie for online support.  Your family will thank you.

Okay… ready for a smile?!  Lyndsey never lets us down…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27

Still Smoke-Free?  YES!!

piggy bankHi again everyone!

Meet SMOKE-Y Bacon my savings piggy, who is getting nice and full lately 🙂

So still smoke-free and really enjoying it. I’m not going to say ‘loving it’ as I am still missing them. However I keep telling myself I’m only one drag to being back at the very start. (I’m not going there again).

Okay so I’m not a big drinker and I don’t go out weekends so I don’t have that temptation to smoke with drink or anything like that. But my temptation is definitely put to the test when I’m in my car and by God did it reach its peak this week……..

The weather the last couple of days has been pants. Which means an EXTRA early start for me to try beat the traffic. So I’m driving to work in the mental weather, having a fight with the steering wheel cos of the wind and the window wipers are on full with the rain. Next I just see break lights on the motorway. Yep just as I dreaded, I hit traffic. So I’m grand for the first couple of minutes just listening away to the radio. I look out the window to the car beside me and there was a man having a smoke out his window. Now all I can think about is….. I’d LOVE a smoke right now, like I’d REALLY love a smoke right now. I’m nearly willing for a pop-up garage to appear on the motorway, just so I could buy a pack and end this horrible feeling of temptation.

But nope that didn’t work.  although I did feel like rolling down my window and giving the man a piece of my mind for smoking next to my car cos now all I want is a smoke and I was fine till before I seen him acting all cool with his stupid smokes ha ha!!  (Oh as you can guess by this little story, I’m sooooo not a morning person!)

I was thinking about what Naomi was saying in her blog about needing a distraction and it’s so true but I just don’t think I’ve found mine quite yet. If I was to take up knitting my kids would end up with a sleeping bag instead of just a hat, ha ha!! So I think I need to get my thinking cap on and find my Distraction.  I’ll let you know J

Blog you all soon!

Smoke-Free,

Lyndsey…’

As usual Lyndsey, fair auld play to you x

Distraction and Motivation – what it’s all about it seems.  And making it EASIER…

Do you really want to quit?  What are you going to do to make it easier to do so?  How will your life/the life of your family be better if you’re successful?  What will you do instead of smoking?

There is no point embarking on this unless you have good answers for these questions and sturdy plans in place.  Here’s hoping my own plans last the weekend!

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Chat soon,

Naomi…

Quitters’ Update Thursday: Week 4

naomiHi again everyone. Naomi here, still smoke-free and still having to concentrate very hard on staying smoke-free. It’s getting easier to deal with the cravings but I tell you what, it’s hard to keep the focus.

We’ve lost a blogger this week – Ciara is still doing really well with her quitting but she’s finding that writing the blog is making her think about smoking! That’s no good, is it?! Thanks Ciara for sharing your story with us so far. This got me thinking though about focus. It makes sense in January to focus on quitting and saving money and getting healthy after over-indulging over Christmas. But once February comes, it’s harder to keep the momentum going. Nights out start to become more frequent and you have some cash in your pocket again. We can’t keep blogging forever so I’m starting to wonder how long more I will last…

I heard an amazing story last week from one of my colleagues in LloydsPharmacy The Mill, Clondalkin. Noeleen is blogging away over on the Weight Loss Blog (have a read of it, it’s really great!). She gave up smoking 14 years ago and she had a very clever way of keeping her focus. Noeleen was saving hundreds of euro each month so she decided to treat herself to her first every new car. The money she was saving from smoking became her loan repayment – this meant she just couldn’t afford to smoke, even if she wanted to. And she had that loan cleared in a year! I thought this was so inspiring.

It’s also important to keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing to become a successful quitter. For me, it’s ensuring my friends and family don’t let me slip, ensuring I do something with my money, and ensuring I keep using my NRT and keep tracking my progress. 4 weeks in and I feel healthier, cleaner, and far more energetic. I now need to put this energy to good use! Hopefully I’ll have figured out how by the time we finish with this blog…

Time to check in on how our customer David has been getting on since last week…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Still Smoke-free?  Yes!

Blog 4 – I don’t want trouble!

‘Hi all,

daveSo here I am settling into my weekly blog routine, much the same way as I’ve settled into a routine of not smoking. I’m continuing to use the patches and have found that I never even think about smoking for most of the week. The only time that I get them on my mind, and immediately fold, is during the weekends when socialising.

This weekend though, for the first time since I quit, went very well and was definitely the most successful to date. A social event on one of the nights went fine as I was not drinking and didn’t know any of the smokers so had no reason to sneak outside for one. On top of this I genuinely didn’t feel a desire for one.

On another occasion I was in the pub and having my first pint since December. This used to be an unmanageable temptation when I tried to quit previously. I always had the impression that you have the most craic outside the pub and there was normally a partner in crime to head outside with. This time around though, I didn’t cave in. I was happy to sit in, and chat away to the people with me and never even considered heading for the door.

When I think about how I managed to get through the weekend a few things come to mind. No one else was smoking – they must be a dying breed – so I never even thought about it. For me having a support network of non-smokers is really helpful. All the bad weather makes it miserable to be anywhere close to the wind and rain so this has also encouraged me to stay out of trouble.

Until next week,

David.’

Well done on your first smoke-free weekend David!

Once again in David’s update, we can see how important a support network is in quitting.  For me, I’m almost afraid to let my friends down, never mind my boss! (We can’t have a failed quitter writing this blog!)  What’s going to keep us all going?

Keep the feedback coming.  We’re back on Saturday to check up on Lyndsey’s progress.

Chat soon,

Naomi…