Pharmacist offers tips to go tobacco-free

Commit to quit

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in Canada.

Today, May 31, is World No Tobacco Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and what we can do to reduce global tobacco consumption.

As a pharmacist, the health and wellness of our community is very important to me, so I’m providing information about smoking cessation to help you reclaim your health.

Nicotine, the chemical found in all tobacco products, is addicting and the reason it is so difficult to quit smoking. In fact, a mere 5% of people successfully quit smoking without the support of smoking cessation medications or help from a counsellor.

You shouldn’t feel discouraged if quitting cold turkey isn’t working for you, as it doesn’t work for 95 per cent of those trying to quit.

Research has found that combining different methods to quit has a higher chance of success than using one alone. The most important thing is to find the best approach that works for you.

It is not easy to quit smoking, but with help, you can increase your chance of success.

If you are trying to quit smoking there are several supports available, including seeking guidance from health care providers, visiting smoking cessation clinics, using medication and following self-help guides.

Health care professionals, including pharmacists, can help assess your needs, come up with an individualized plan to help you quit and address any concerns you have about quitting. As a pharmacist, and someone qualified to support with smoking cessation, I’ve put together some tips and resources to help you quit smoking:

• Remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel—When quitting smoking, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms including headaches, dizziness and fatigue. This is because your body becomes dependent on nicotine, so in its absence, your body will go through withdrawal. While withdrawal is unpleasant, it isn’t harmful to your body, and it will get better overtime as you stay smoke-free.

• Crush the cravings—It’s normal to have cravings when you quit, especially if you used tobacco regularly. There are many things you can do to manage cravings. Identifying and avoiding triggers, chewing sugarless gum and distracting yourself with physical activity are great starting points.

• Talk to your pharmacist—Simply talking to a health care professional about quitting has been shown to increase motivation to quit. Your pharmacist is an accessible health care professional who can listen and provide information about smoking cessation, and help you develop an individualized plan. Your pharmacist can also recommend products to help you quit that may be available without a prescription.

Quitting tobacco is hard but not impossible. Pharmacists are there to help you take one of the most important steps towards improving your health.

Speak with one to learn more about the importance of quitting smoking and the supports and services available to you.

Nathan Klaassen is a pharmacist and owner of your local Shoppers Drug Mart in Kelowna.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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