A celebration of life and liberty
Smoking accounts for 500,000 avoidable deaths every year and is the leading cause of morbidity – a sobering statistic as we count the deaths due to Covid-19. The release of the Surgeon General’s smoking cessation report is timely to drive change and save lives.
First Steps to Liberation
This hard journey starts and stops with you. Understand your desire and need to quit. If you have quit before, that is proof that quitting is possible. And if you failed, was it due to the presence of other smokers, alcohol use, habitual coffee smokes? Were you concerned about weight gain when quitting smoking? The weight gained can be lost (mini nicotine lozenges reduces gain), while lung damage, heart disease and cancer from smoking is harder to shake off.
Set a quit date and spread the word. Share the news with a core group of loved ones. If they are encouraging that’s good, as you would not want to disappoint them – if not, use that negative energy to prove them wrong. At times, strangers on social media can be better cheerleaders. For free resources – check out smokefree.gov or text Q-U-I-T to 47848.
Next, there is NO cutting down. Your best chance is going cold turkey – with a side of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
The basic premise of this strategy is to provide nicotine delivery while staying away from the lung-damaging, heart disease-contributing, and cancer-causing parts of smoking.
If you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, then start with a nicotine patch. Add a mini lozenge (do not chew), or gum (chew and park) to the patch. You can take up to 20 mini lozenges or 24 nicotine gums a day. Take the mini lozenge or gum before nicotine craving builds up. Avoid sodas, coffee or alcohol with lozenge or gum, which reduces the absorption of nicotine. Nicotine nasal sprays and inhalers (don’t inhale, use like a cigar) can deliver the nicotine load faster but has some drawbacks (see above).
How ‘bout them drugs?
They work. Especially varenicline (Chantix), compared with Bupropion. Your best shot to quit is varenicline + nicotine patch + mini lozenge/gum. The main side effects of varenicline are vivid dreams, insomnia (take the second dose at dinner time instead of bedtime) and nausea. Bupropion is a good option too if struggling with depression. Though it can cause insomnia, dry mouth and anxiety.
E-cigs: Ya or Nay?
This is not FDA approved advice. While it should not be the first approach used, it would be self-defeating to be rigid. A few pointers:
- Use a higher dose of nicotine in e-cigs;
- Do not combine regular cigarettes with e-cigs;
- Set a firm quit date for e-cigs.
The goal is to use e-cigs when getting off cigarettes, not trade one form of nicotine delivery for another, as e-cigs have adverse effects on your lungs and health.
Many of our fallen Americans did not have time to make the change. You are in control of your health, your life. Help yourself or one person #Quit 2022. Spread the love, the world needs it more now than ever.
Written by: Avinesh S Bhar, MD
Our online lung doctor, Dr. Avinesh Bhar, believes that high-quality care only comes from a trustful physician-patient relationship and is also licensed as a Sleep disorder doctor in Arkansas and Virginia.