National Non-Smoking Week and NRT

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by LG&L Health Unit

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is well known as a way to help smokers in their journey to be nicotine free. It is important to understand how NRT works in your body to help you be more successful when using it. It also helps if you follow the instructions provided by your quit coach or health care provider with each product for best results.

For National Non-Smoking week, the Health Unit is providing information about some common myths about NRT and quitting smoking.

Myth: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) doesn’t work.

Truth: NRT works. NRT can double a smoker’s chances of quitting smoking for good.

Many smokers find NRT helps them in their journey to quit by reducing the roller coaster effect of stopping and starting smoking. Every person is different. It might be worth trying NRT to see if it’s right for you. Even if you tried NRT before, it might be worth trying again. NRT will help you the most if you use it as directed by your quit coach or health care provider. NRT works by replacing some of the nicotine you used to get from cigarettes, so you don’t feel as uncomfortable while you are quitting.

Myth: Using NRT will stop me from having withdrawal symptoms or cravings from quitting smoking.

Truth: You may still have withdrawal symptoms or cravings while using NRT. Try to be patient. Most people find withdrawal symptoms especially difficult the first week or two after quitting. Most smokers find withdrawal symptoms less intense when using NRT. If withdrawal symptoms continue a few days after you start using NRT, talk to your health care provider or the Health Unit. Some NRT products (gum, lozenge, inhaler) work better if they are not used at the same time as soft drinks or fruit juices. It is safe to continue using NRT even if you slip and smoke one or two cigarettes. Staying on NRT increases your chances of getting back on track with your quit attempt.

Myth: I can only use one NRT product.

Truth: NRT products can be used safely together. For example, you might use long-acting NRT such as the patch with short-acting NRT such as a lozenge. Some people find both a long-acting patch and short-acting gum to be useful when cravings are high to handle withdrawal symptoms and fight off cravings.

Myth: NRT is too expensive.

Truth: A Health Unit quit coach or your health care provider can speak with you about options for NRT. There are Ontario programs that can help with free NRT. 

Myth: Smoking/vaping helps me relax.

Truth: This is one of the biggest myths; in fact, it does the opposite to your body.  Smoking makes your heart beat faster, your breathing quicken and your blood pressure rise. Stopping what you are doing to smoke/vape gives you a break from work or something causing you stress and takes your mind off your worries. You can accomplish the same results without smoking or vaping and a quit coach can help!

Myth: Switching to vaping is healthier if you want to quit smoking.

Truth: There is no real evidence that vaping is safe. Quitting altogether is best but you may find reducing your consumption to be an option you can handle. Here are some tips if you think switching or reducing is your best option:

  • switch completely to vaping (use of both cigarettes and vaping increases risk);
  • choose low nicotine content product;
  • reduce use and manage cravings, and consider an approved quit product like nicotine patches or gum; and 
  • If you don’t smoke, don’t start vaping. 

“Quitting smoking or vaping can be one of the most difficult things to do,” says Debbie McIntyre, Public Health Nurse and Certified Tobacco Educator at the Health Unit. “It can take a few tries before you succeed. Each time you try to quit, you increase your chances of being smoke free for good,” adds McIntyre. “Making the decision to quit is a personal choice. Preparation and planning can increase the chances for a successful quit attempt.”

Any attempt to quit smoking or vaping is a good decision for your health. For more information, visit the Ready to Quit page on the Health Unit’s website, or dontquitquitting.ca. You can also call 1-800-660-5853 ext 2121 or follow LGLHealthunit on Facebook and Twitter or @lglhealthunit.z on Instagram for important public health updates.

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