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Butt out – Review of Conventional & Natural Treatment for Smoking Cessation

This post isn’t about the health, financial or social consequences of smoking, second and third-hand smoke exposure. Instead, I want to provide a review on the efficacy of conventional and natural treatment options so someone knows their options when they're ready to quit.

If you’re reading this on behalf of someone in your life who smokes, you could play a pretty vital role. Try to avoid criticizing comments like “you should quit smoking.” They know this and no one likes to be told what to do. You could even push them away without meaning to. The best question to ask is: “Have you considered quitting?” and offer your support, non-judgement, and encouragement.

Fast facts:

-Cigarettes contain ~7000 chemicals, including 70 known carcinogens

-Tobacco use kills approx. 37 000 Canadians each year

-Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death

-Nicotine is highly addictive because it triggers rapid dopamine release in several brain areas

First, there are 5 evidence-based steps that are required to successfully quit.

1. Setting a target quit day

-Share this day with your friends and family, this helps with accountability

-Abrupt quitting vs. gradual reduction has more evidence for success – but ultimately, you have to do what works for you

2. Getting professional help

-Addiction counsellor or Behavioural therapist

-Minimal counselling time (<3min) has an estimated quit rate of 13.4% vs. longer counselling time (>10min) has a rate of 22%.

-Effective formats include: Individual or group counselling, telephone, text and internet sites. See resources below

3. Enlisting social support

-Surround yourself with positive, supportive friends, family, and co-workers

-Avoid people who trigger you to smoke and those who make snide, unsupportive remarks

4. Using medication to quit smoking

-More relevant for those who smoke >10 cigarettes per day

-See below

5. Using problem-solving methods of counselling to quit and remain smoke free

-anticipate challenges: hide lighters, remove tobacco products, avoid triggers (like bars or parties), etc.