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Quitting smoking - methods that can help

Because every person is unique, the quitting strategy that worked for your friend or coworker may not be the one for you. In fact, experts believe a combined approach is most helpful.

In other words, the most effective strategies are those that help with the physical dependence, like nicotine replacement products and other medications, combined with approaches that address psychological dependence, like support groups or counselling.

Here are two strategies that many smokers have found to be successful.

Stop smoking aids
In Canada, products to help you quit smoking come in two varieties. The first are nicotine replacement products, such as chewing pieces (gum), inhalers, mouth sprays, lozenges, and patches, which are all available without a prescription. These products contain nicotine, and are used to prevent the withdrawal symptoms that occur in the first few days or weeks of stopping smoking, so that you can focus on learning about life as a non-smoker. When used properly, they can be a very effective tool in a quit smoking plan. Your pharmacist can recommend the right form for you. The second type of product are prescription medications, called bupropion (which works on certain chemicals in the brain) or varenicline (which is thought to work on receptors in the body), to help you stop smoking. You will need a prescription from your doctor or pharmacist to use either of these medications and it may not be suitable for all people. If you're ready to quit, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out which product is right for you.

Counselling and support groups
Group support programs are one of the most successful methods of quitting smoking. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other tools, such as medications. In a group support program, people trying to quit smoking discuss the successes and challenges they are experiencing as they try to quit smoking and get advice and support from group leaders and their peers. Contact your local public health department to find out what stop smoking groups are active in your community.

Individual counselling programs range from brief advice to intensive, one-on-one counselling, usually provided by specialty clinics. Talk to your doctor about whether individual counselling is an appropriate option for you.

These two strategies are often used together to increase the chances of success.

Quitting tips
No matter how old you are, quitting can be hard, but it is fully within your reach.

Here are some tips that will help make quitting easier:

  • Congratulate yourself. Whether this is your first time, or you've tried quitting before, you should be proud of yourself for recognizing the dangers of smoking and doing something about it.
  • Make an action plan. This plan can help you recognize what you need to do and how you will do it. Things to include on it are a list of the important benefits of quitting, a list of the situations in which you smoke and the reasons why you smoke - this will help you identify what "triggers" you to light up - and finally, a list of fun and healthy activities to replace smoking.
  • Set a quit date. Set a date that is good for you. Try not to choose a date that may already be stressful due to social commitments or work deadlines. Weekends are often a good time to choose as your quit date, since you can fill them up with other activities to help keep your mind off smoking. The importance of a quit date is to make sure that you stick to it. A quit date may signal the end of your smoking days, but it is also the beginning of enjoying all the benefits of your new, healthier life.
  • Stay clear of smoking triggers. Starting on the day you quit, try to remove or avoid your smoking triggers. For example, if you associate coffee with smoking, try drinking tea or water instead. If you usually smoke at parties, find other ways to socialize with friends.
  • Exercise. This is a great way to relax and feel good, instead of smoking. More importantly, as you get into shape, you can repair some of the damage tobacco has done to your body over time.
  • Reward yourself. Quitting is not easy. Reward yourself from time to time for a job well done. For example, you can use the money that you've saved to buy yourself something special.
  • Get support. It's always a good idea to get the support of a close friend or family member, or someone else you respect who wants to see you succeed at quitting. When you need a helping hand they can help you stick to your plan.

For more tips and information on quitting smoking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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