“Making that commitment to quit smoking is a big step to a new and improved you,” says family medicine specialist Dr Rashidi. “You will see health benefits shortly after your treatment – you may experience better sense of taste and smell, for example, or you sleep better and cough less. More importantly, your risks of heart diseases, lung cancer and other health complications would be significantly reduced.”
I can always stop whenever I want, so why the rush?
Quitting may not be that easy. According to Dr Rashidi, you may have become addicted to the nicotine in your cigarettes without realizing it. The longer you smoke, the greater your addiction, and the harder it will be to stop!
So, let’s quit. Today.
Making that first step
Should I go at it on my own?
Over 75% of people who try to quit on their own end up going back to the habit within the first week of trying.
On the other hand, those who successfully remained smoke-free during the 1st week are found to be 9 times more likely to be smoke-free by the 52nd week (about a year later).
Therefore, it is very important that you get through the 1st week without smoking even one cigarette. The chances of you succeeding in this are lower if you try to quit on your own. So, why not quit with the help of qualified healthcare professionals and the right types of smoking cessation aids backing you up?
According to consultant psychiatrist Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq, all healthcare providers can be approached to assist in your quitting attempts.
- Most medical doctors and dentists are trained to advise and help smokers to quit. Some may be able to help you at their place of practice.
- There are about 450 government-run smoking cessation clinics available across the country, and most government hospitals will have someone who will be able to assist.
- There are also privately run medical centres and hospitals that conduct smoking cessation clinics. Unlike government-run clinics, you most likely have to pay for their services.
- Furthermore, an increasing number of retail pharmacies are able to provide advice and cessation aids to help you quit the addiction.
Which option is best for me?
Dr Amer adds that, in University Malaya for example, the quit smoking service is centred in the addiction clinic, which is managed by the staff of the psychiatric department. However, medical physicians, primary care physicians and public health specialist do rotate within this service to provide smoking cessation assistance. In UKM, the smoking cessation clinic is run by pharmacists, dentists and also family medicine specialists. Regardless of whoever manages the smoking cessation programme, there is usually little difference in the method used.
Therefore, you can explore your options, and pick the one which you feel would be the best or most convenient for you.
Hughes, JR, et al. (1992). Smoking cessation among self-quitters. Health Psychol; 11:331-334.
Tønnesen, P, et al. (1999). Higher dosage nicotine patches increase one-year smoking cessation rates; results from the European CEASE trial. Eur Resp J; 13:238-246.