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by James Thomas, Thursday, July 21, 2016 | Categories: Smoking

Is There Really an "Easy Way" to Stop Smoking?

It’s a question that thousands of smokers around the world ask themselves every day: Is there an easy way to stop smoking? Something that will prevent withdrawal symptoms and eliminate all those pesky cravings?

The short answer is no – but that doesn’t mean you should lose hope. Quitting smoking is a complex process that differs hugely from person to person, and how difficult you find it depends upon factors that include how much you smoke, and what kind of lifestyle you live.

Today, many "stop smoking" treatments are available – as well as other options, which are not treatments as such, like e-cigarettes. And unsurprisingly, all have been subject to various criticisms from both users trying to quit and the medical community trying to protect their health.

The E-Cigarette Argument

There’s been a great deal of controversy surrounding the safety of e-cigarettes. In 2014, the World Health Organization called for e-cigarettes to be banned indoors and advised that manufacturers not be allowed to market their devices as smoking cessation aids. But then last year, Public Health England declared that e-cigarettes were 95% safer than regular cigarettes, and recommended that the UK’s eight million smokers switch over to vaping.

Unsurprisingly, this was met with criticism, and earlier this year the British Medical Association echoed the advice of the WHO by recommending that vaping be banned indoors, a statement that has in turn been criticised by tobacco control experts keen to encourage smokers to quit.

Like any hot issue under debate by the medical community, the discussion around e-cigarettes is unlikely to die down for some time – and until more studies are carried out into the long-term effects of vaping on our health, we won’t have any firm answers about whether or not it’s a safe alternative.

Smoking Cessation Treatments Approved by the NHS

If you’re looking to quit smoking but you feel dubious about using e-cigarettes there are some other ways to kick-start the process.

*Nicotine Replacement Therapy*

Nicotine replacement therapy (or NRT) is available over the counter in any high street pharmacy. As most of us are aware, the addictive ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine; by substituting cigarettes with skin patches, chewing gum, inhalators, tablets or sprays that contain nicotine (but none of the other poisonous chemicals) you can start to break your smoking habit.

Taking nicotine replacement therapy regularly after you stop smoking helps to minimise cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and allows your body to adjust slowly. Normally NRT lasts eight to 12 weeks before the dose of nicotine is reduced, allowing you to wean yourself off.

Champix and Zyban

Two other stop smoking treatments are Zyban and Champix. Both these medicines come in the form of a tablet, taken daily, and work by breaking down your addiction to nicotine.

It is not completely understood how Zyban works; however, Champix is known to prevent nicotine from binding to the parts of the brain that respond to it. This helps to slowly diminish the pleasant "reward" feeling you get from smoking.

For treatment with Zyban or Champix to work, you should start taking your tablets seven to 14 days before you quit smoking. A full course of Zyban normally lasts for seven to nine weeks, and a full course of Champix normally lasts 12 weeks – however, further courses can be prescribed if you are at risk of starting smoking again.

The Online Clinic does not prescribe Zyban.

Additional Stop Smoking Tips

Other tips that can help you quit for good include:

  • Downloading a "quit smoking" app to your phone that keeps track of your progress
  • Avoiding foods that make cigarettes taste good when you’re having a craving (that means swapping out meat for cheese, fruit and vegetables)
  • Avoiding drinks that make cigarettes taste better when you’re having a craving (that means avoiding fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine – sorry!)
  • Creating an action plan for dealing with your worst cravings
  • Exercising to combat cravings, withdrawal symptoms and low moods

Lastly, remember that asking for help is the best way to stop smoking for good – according to the NHS, smokers are four times more likely to quit if they use NHS services and resources.

You can also start your smoking cessation journey by requesting a prescription for Champix tablets through The Online Clinic. Click here to find out more.

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