Quitting Smoking: Effective Methods
When you finally decide to quit smoking, you’ll simply stub out your last cigarette and let time do the rest. That’s not, however, how the majority of ex-smokers did it.
Studies have shown that smokers who use a support method are more likely to quit smoking successfully and keep it up over the long-term. The most effective methods are psychological support, replacement therapies, nicotine and pharmacological aids (prescription drugs).
1. Psychological support
You can significantly increase your chances of becoming and remaining a non-smoker by having someone to share your ups and downs with when the going gets tough. Support is available, individually or in groups, in the Quitting Smoking Centers (CAT) that can be found all over Quebec, and it’s absolutely free. Support from family and friends also plays an important role.
The Internet and social networks can also be an excellent source of information and motivation. Many ex-smokers take advantage of quitting smoking campaigns such as the "I Quit" challenge that has taken place every January since 1999. With the advent of smart phones, smokers can now download a variety of applications designed to help them quit smoking by, for example, sending messages of encouragement.
2. Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs)
Nicotine replacement therapies allow smokers to gradually wean themselves from nicotine without exposing them (or those around them) to the many carcinogens present in cigarette smoke.
TRNs come in various forms: slow-acting (patches) or rapid-acting (gums, lozenges, inhalers, sprays). Choice of product and dosage depends on the number of cigarettes smoked and each smoker’s habits, state of health and preferences. Your pharmacist will help you create a personalized plan to help you quit.
Depending on individual needs, you may use just one type of product (usually a patch) or a combination of several types, such as patches and gum.
Treatment usually lasts 12 weeks. It is recommended that you not continue smoking while using an NRT.
An NRT may be prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist, and in certain circumstances, may be covered by your insurance.
3. Prescription Drugs
There are two prescription drugs that are approved in Canada for quitting smoking: Bupropion and Varenicline. They don’t contain any nicotine, but act on the brain, each in its own way, to reduce the urge to smoke and alleviate the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
As these drugs require a few days to achieve maximum effect, the treatment usually begins at least one week before quitting. Treatment most often continues for 12 weeks but may be extended in certain circumstances.
Although proven effective, these drugs are not suitable for all smokers. That means you shouldn’t share them with someone else who wants to quit smoking. Only a doctor can determine if a medication is right for someone.
Are you ready to quit?
These three methods can be a valuable aid in helping you to quit. However, to maximize your chances of success, you must be truly determined to stop smoking and want to do it for the right reasons.
It’s also good to ask yourself about your smoking profile. For example, what triggers your cravings: stress, boredom, social gatherings? If you can identify these before you quit, you stand a better chance of overcoming them when they occur or of avoiding situations that trigger them. There are questionnaires designed to help you better understand your relationship with cigarettes.
If you have already made attempts to quit, try to identify the reasons why you started again and think what you might do this time to stop for good.
Are you convinced? Have you decided to butt out? Feel free to talk to your family pharmacists. They can help you create a personalized strategy that will enable you to reach your goal.
They can also prescribe* can prescribe medications for certain minor health problems, including NRTs for smoking cessation, when no diagnosis is needed.
A consultation will be required to make sure you meet the prescribing criteria. To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details.
Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here.
*Certain conditions must be respected. Fees may apply. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more information. Pharmacists alone are responsible for the practice of pharmacy. They offer related services only on behalf of pharmacist-owners.