NSW Health Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, today appealed to smokers to make a positive decision along with millions of people around the world to quit smoking in the New Year.
Dr Chant said January 1 is often when people start to think about making a fresh, healthy and smoke-free start to the New Year.
“If you decide to quit smoking at midnight on New Year's Eve, by 2am most nicotine will be out of your system,” Dr Chant said.
“After two days, all of the nicotine by-products have gone, your tastebuds come alive, your sense of smell improves and your breath, hair, fingers, teeth and clothes are cleaner.”
Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, said data from the icanquit website last January showed an increase in the number of people reaching out for support.
“The New Year is a key time for smokers thinking about quitting,” Professor Currow said.
“Last January we saw a 65 per cent increase in visits to icanquit.com.au, where quitters can get tips and support from others on their quit journey,” he said.
Dr Chant said tobacco smoking caused around 5,300 deaths and 46,000 hospitalisations a year in NSW and remained one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death in Australia.
“Non-smokers can also be adversely affected by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). In children, breathing ETS can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and other illnesses. Children of smokers are four times more likely to become smokers themselves.
“Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as lozenges, patches, gum or inhaler, can help smokers quit by reducing their withdrawal symptoms when stopping smoking.
“NRT is safe and effective if used according to recommendations. It is important to continue to use NRT for at least eight weeks.”
Dr Chant advises people who are planning to quit to:
- set a date - around January 1 and stick with their decision to quit
- get organised - write a list of reasons for quitting such as health, finances and children. Remind themselves of the reasons by putting the list on their fridge, in the car, by the phone and in their workspace
- get some support - ask their family, friends and work mates to help with their attempt to quit. They can help distract and refrain from smoking around the quitter, if they smoke themselves
- find a 'QUIT BUDDY’ - for mutual encouragement and support. Call the Quitline 137 848 - a Quitline counsellor can also ring you when you need support and encouragement
- identify smoking patterns - when do they enjoy smoking the most? What events trigger their need to smoke? Keep a diary and plan what to do instead of smoking
- plan ahead - many people quit 'cold turkey' - relying on willpower alone. However, if that's not for you, nicotine replacement therapy can double people’s chances of having a successful quit attempt, particularly if they are moderately or highly nicotine dependent (if they smoke within 30 minutes of waking up and smoke 10+ cigarettes per day); try a quit smoking course or talk to a doctor
- get a piggy bank - put the money they would spend on cigarettes in a piggy bank or jar and watch the money grow. Make a list of what they can spend the money on.
Smokers can start planning now for their quit attempt by calling the Quitline on 137 848 for advice, support and the Quit Kit.
For information on how to quit smoking: Visit www.iCanQuit.com.au