Where do we start? An alarming fact: Cigarette smoking damages almost every organ of the human body. It is single-handedly one of the biggest causes of illness and death within the United Kingdom, with around 78,000 dying each year and many more having to try and cope with the debilitating effects that smoking has caused them.
Around 7 out of 10 lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking, with other long-term risks being erectile dysfunction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
For those living with asthma – an estimated 5.4 million people in the United Kingdom alone - smoking can be catastrophic due to the harm it inflicts onto to the lungs. Smoke irritates the airways, causing them to become narrow, swollen and clogged up with sticky mucus — the precise things occurring during an asthma flare-up. It is this reason why smoking can lead to asthma attacks happening more often.
The nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can also stick to clothes, furniture, carpets, etc. creating an unpleasant smell. There are other hygiene issues from smoking, with the tar contained in cigarettes often causing yellow finger nails, teeth and bad breath.
Finally, let’s not forget that smoking is a financially costly habit. If you smoke 5, 10, 20, or 40 cigarettes a day, just by quitting you can expect to save around £81.83, £163.66, £327.32, or £654.64 per month respectively, based on today's prices. Therefore, you can literally save thousands of pounds per year just by quitting smoking! The NHS Calculator will give you an idea of exactly how much money you can save each year by giving up smoking.
Although many smokers use nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as sprays, gums or patches, they may not be the most effective.
Studies have determined that using smoking cessation medication Champix (Varenicline) is actually more effective than single or combination therapy use of NRT’s. In the studies, those taking Champix were more likely to quit smoking and not go back to smoking in the future. With Champix, you are three times more likely to stop smoking compared to those not using any such medication.
Alternatively, Zyban (Bupropion) is an anti-craving medication designed to effectively help people stop smoking, and is available to buy without a prescription from Medical Specialists®. Zyban can significally reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, headaches, irritability and problems concentrating, as well as making smoking feel less rewarding/pleasurable.
In addition, there are non-prescription NRT products you can buy online such as Nicorette QuickMist Mouthspray, a freshmint-flavoured spray containing nicotine. This highly popular and portable mouthspray acts fast on cravings to help you quit smoking or vaping. It starts to relieve your smoking cravings in as little as 30 seconds and may help you quit smoking for good.
With or without medication or NRTs, you need to have the willpower and right frame of mind to quit smoking. Ask any former smoker how to quit smoking and they will tell you it wasn’t easy. However, there are now many online forums you can join to speak to others going through the same as you, there are smartphone apps that can provide advice and motivation, plus regularly speaking to friends and family about your journey may give encouragement to continue on your path to a smoke-free future.
Champix comes as 0.5mg and 1mg tablets, and is usually a 12-week course, although some people may require slightly longer for treatment. The manufacturer Pfize advises people to continue to smoke during their first week of treatment and to set a target date for quitting some time in the second week. Through the Starter Pack as your dose gradually builds up, cigarettes and smoking should begin to feel less desirable and therefore a little easier to cut down prior to hopefully stopping altogether during the second week. It is crucial to not stop your course of Champix before the end of the 12 weeks, even if you’re feeling confident that you have quit, as carrying on with the course can help to avert a relapse.
Zyban comes as 150mg prolonged-release tablets, and is a 9-week course where you build up your dose at the end of the first week of treatment. The manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline advises people to continue to smoke in the first week of treatment and like with Champix, to set a target date for quitting some time in the second week. It is crucial to not stop your course of Zyban before the end of the 9 weeks, even if you’re feeling confident that you have quit, as carrying on with the course can help to avert a relapse.
Which is right for me?
If you're not sure which is most suitable for you, you can get further help or advice from your own doctor. In certain cases and depending on health conditions you may have, Champix could be more suitable, and vice versa. With both medicines however, the desired end result is still the same: to stop smoking for good.