Anyone that claims not to know the health risks of smoking must have been living under a rock for the last 20 years. Even though it is public knowledge that almost 80,000 people each year die as a direct result of smoking, the habit still persists. Cancer is just the tip of the iceberg. When you add heightened risk of strokes, heart attacks and emphysema – smoking it literally a slow suicide. Stoptober from the NHS is the solution.
Back to the positive news. The Stoptober campaign by the NHS provides tools, tailored support and advice to help you quit the cancer sticks.
What caught my eye with the Stoptober campaign is that individual differences and styles are included.
For years the ‘use your willpower’ message was the only advice. This works for some people, though others need different approaches. Whether this is nicotine patches, community groups or just a plan for when the cravings get too much to handle – having something that works for your individual needs is a big boost.
The centrepiece of the NHS October campaign is to use their Quit Smoking app to resist for 28 days. You can download the app for Android phones or iPhones – it is free.
You will see a bar which moves each day you don’t smoke. This gives you a visual representation of how long you stayed smoke free for. Under this you will see the amount of money you have saved too – based on what you used to smoke.
Of course, health is always more important than money. As you move towards your goal on the progress bar, you get health benefits which just keep accumulating.
Some people are able to keep their smoking to social occasions only, while others need a fix the moment they wake up.
The NHS provide a quick and easy questionnaire. This takes information on how many you smoke, when the cravings start and whether / how you tried to quit before. It then tailors assistance to you. That could involve a local support group (for face-to-face assistance), patches, or other solutions.
There are reasons to quit and plenty of tried and tested tips on the Stoptober website. You will even find a Facebook group for mutual support.
I had the (temporary) misfortune to be hospitalised with a lung issue while overseas. It was mechanical, a punctured lung, and required surgery.
I was also fortunate enough to have quit smoking more than 10 years beforehand. Each of the two hospitals I was in during this period had their own sad story. The first had wards full of late-stage emphysema patents slowly suffocating. The second was even sadder. A small ward where the guy next to me had just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was a regular guy, a dad, and no more than 50. He was also a smoker.
The health benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately. Poisonous carbon monoxide is flushed out, and your breathing gets noticeably easier after just a few days. Cardio benefits follow in the months to come, with a huge reduction in those fatal issues like heart attacks or cancer after that. A quick session on a treadmill will quickly go from being an ordeal to a pleasure!
One more personal thought. The first time you get a cold after you quit will be a revelation. Those horrible, lingering chesty coughs? Well, those are made so much worse by smoking.
If you smoke, there is nothing more important for your health than quitting. The sooner the better.
What I like best about Stoptober is that the solutions are tailored to different people. Whatever the best way to quit is, the NHS app will find it for you.
Sign up now, download the app and give your health the boost you have been waiting for: See https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/ now!
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