We all know smoking is detrimental to our health. It is the leading cause of preventable death in Canada. The more than 7,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke are responsible for taking the lives of 37,000 individuals each year. Of those that do smoke, 7 in 10 want to quit. Yet the success rate of those that try is dismal, at best. In fact, 94 percent fail.
As healthcare providers, it is likely a goal to help patients quit smoking for good. The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states a doctor taking “10 minutes or less to give a patient advice and assistance about quitting” is a proven effective treatment for smokers who want help quitting. Take 10 and share these smoking cessation tips with your patients to help them kick the habit for good.
Tips to help patients quit smoking:
- Nicotine replacement: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as gum, lozenges, patches or inhalers can increase the odds of quitting smoking to 23 percent. Combined with drug therapy, the odds increase even more. Clinics with access may want to provide those attempting to quit with a grab bag. Include NRT coupons or samples and a drug therapy fact sheet.
- Support programs: Support programs can double a patient’s chance of success. Support groups, such as Nicotine Anonymous, one-on-one counselling, online support or telephone quit lines are all great ways to help patients quit smoking. If your clinic offers access to any of these programs, imprint details and contact information on a magnet and provide to patients for easy access. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada has several helpful resources on its website, too.
- Trigger avoidance: Most smokers have certain “triggers” that cause them to crave a cigarette more so than usual. Those include stress, coffee breaks, talking on the phone or driving. Some find they must avoid certain triggers Others find a distraction works. For instance, doodling while talking on the phone. Or chewing gum while driving. Talk to your patients about their triggers and provide a little something to help kibosh them—perhaps a distraction kit complete with a doodle pad, chewing gum and a stress reliever.
- Alternative therapies: Alternative therapies such as the use of herbs, hypnosis or acupuncture may help certain people quit smoking. These methods help curb the craving for nicotine and ease withdrawal symptoms.
- Abstinence: Of course, the best way to be a non-smoker is to never start smoking in the first place. Start educating patients when they’re young on the damaging effects of smoking. Ask parents to take a pledge with their children to never start smoking. “All About Me” colouring books and “Too Smart to Start” stickers are great takeaways to reinforce your message.
There’s no one right way to quit smoking. Talking with them is probably one of the best things you can do to help patients quit smoking. Share these tips and others with those looking to kick the habit and help them make this attempt stick.