One of my aspirations as a GP is to empower patients to help themselves.  In many aspects of health and wellbeing, the doctor can merely educate and advise.  One example is smoking cessation.  Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.  As I am sure most of you are aware, smoking increases the risk of many illnesses such as heart disease, strokes and several cancers such as lung and bladder cancer.  It can also cause fertility problems, and smoking whilst pregnant can harm your baby. 

It is never too late to stop smoking.  It is not always easy, but it will be well worth it.  I am yet to meet a person who has regretted going smoke-free.  There is help out there.  Nicotine-replacement therapy can work.  This can be prescribed by your doctor or bought over the counter in pharmacies.  It comes as patches, chewing gum and lozenges.  In some cases, medications can be prescribed which have been shown to significantly increase your chances of stopping.  These work by reducing the powerful cravings.  They are not suitable for all, so ask your doctor if you are interested.  Don’t forget Quitline, which is another good resource that can provide education and support. 

If you live with another person who smokes, and you are both serious about quitting, one idea is to both stop together.  A good time to stop is when there is a change from your usual routine, for example when you are moving house or whilst on holiday.  Don’t forget to warn those around you that you are quitting, as it is not usual for cravings to affect your mood.   

Don’t wait until your health is affected.  Think not only of yourself but of your family, who want the best for you.  By quitting smoking, you will certainly save a lot of money.  Go smoke-free.  It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.   

-Isabelle Duck

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