The benefits of tobacco cessation are many. You reduce your risk for hypertension, cancer, cardio-vascular diseases and other serious chronic diseases substantially, at whatever age you quit your nicotine habit. The earlier you quit, the more you benefit.
If you quit before the age of 50, you bring down your risk of dying from smoking-related diseases by 50%. But if you’ve crossed 60, suffer from heart disease and/or hyper tension, you can manage these diseases better through tobacco cessation.
The risk of the following also reduces significantly stopping tobacco use:
1. Heart disease, cancer especially lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
2. Impotence due to erectile dysfunction in men, and fertility problems in women
3. Optic neuropathy (affects the optic nerve that conducts visual signals from the eyes to the brain)
5. Macular degeneration (breakdown of the tissue at the back of the eye)
7. Gum disease
8. Losing teeth early
9. Osteoporosis or spongy, thin bones
10. Complications in pregnancy i.e. women who smoke have more complications during pregnancy and have low-birth babies.
11. Your food and drink also tastes better once you kick the tobacco habit.
So, how can you stop smoking? Are there any medications and strategies available? The answer is a definite ‘Yes’. Tobacco cessation has been honed into an art these days.
1. Clinics: There are tobacco cessation clinics that help you with tobacco cessation. These are manned by psychiatrists, who can provide detailed information, encouragement, and tips to stop smoking.
2. Medications: You can use many medicines while you’re trying to stop smoking. This increases your chance of quitting and including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT can be in the form of gums, sprays, patches, tablets, lozenges, and inhalers. NRT is even available without a prescription.
3. Medicines like Bupropion and Varenicline also very useful.
4. Electronic cigarettes: Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are designed to look and feel like normal cigarettes. These contain a heating element that vapourises a solution and looks like smoke. Some may also contain low levels of nicotine. There is currently controversial evidence on their efficacy.
5. Counselling and behavioural therapy: They are both very effective too, especially if you are being guided by a cessation expert. He or she can help you with a personalised quit plan, including ways to cope with nicotine withdrawal. Apart from this, online support is also available for those who don’t have the time or money to engage in personal, face-to-face counseling. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a psychiatrist.