On Monday, 31 May, the World Health Organisation and global partners celebrated World No-Tobacco Day by raising awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form. The theme for this year’s World No-tobacco day is: “Commit to Quit”.
Most smokers are aware of the dangers of tobacco use but many find it difficult to quit the habit. For Mark Engelbrecht, Clinical Nurse Practitioner and Operational Manager at Kleinmond Clinic, quitting the habit was essential after suffering a massive heart attack at the age of 41. “I started smoking at 21 and after 20 years of smoking and a massive heart attack, I had to make the decision to stop.” Mark says quitting came easy after his near-death experience and he has not regretted the decision he made.
While Mark’s experience made quitting easy, we know quitting this habit does not always come easy. The main thing is not to do this on your own. Establish a support system of those who have the same goal as you do. Surround yourself by others who also want to quit. This buddy system will encourage you during the difficult times. Share with your family and friends your commitment to quit. They will support you in achieving your new smoke free life.
Some people just decide to stop one day. Others prefer to do it gradually. Here are some tips to help you change your smoking patterns.
Choose a date on which you will quit but avoid a date that is during a stressful time such as exams.
As a smoker your hands would be fidgeting with matches or holding a cigarette. Decide on how you are going to keep your hands busy by using a stress ball or playing with elastics.
Plan how you are going to manage when you stop. You are breaking a long standing habit!
Write down why you smoke and why you want to stop.
Start breaking the habit of reaching for a packet by putting elastic bands around the packet to make it difficult to open.
Break your usual pattern by holding the cigarette in the other hand or smoke a brand you don’t like.
If you smoke immediately when you get out of bed then try and delay that first cigarette till later.
On the quit day
Get rid of any reminders of the old smoking days such as ashtrays and lighters.Take deep breaths as this will help to handle stress. When the urge to smoke strikes: drink a glass of water or do something physical like washing windows or going for a walk.
Have healthy things to nibble eg raisins, seeds, and chewing gum.Chat to your support buddies. Keep chatting.Keep busy. According to Mark since he stopped smoking, he has been focusing on health habits such as improving his fitness levels and eating healthier foods. “I can feel the difference, I have more energy and my general health has improved substantially. I feel good about myself and more confident.” While quitting has many health benefits such as the return of normal taste and smell, a stabilized blood pressure, more energy and regular oxygen level, it will also save you lots of money.
As a health professional and an ex-smoker Mark encourages every smoker to stop smoking while they can. “Smoking causes serious harm to your body and to your health, protect yourself before it is too late.”