How to stub out the habit

There is help for many people who want to quit smoking

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional A­airs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is hellbent on keeping the ban on the sale of cigarettes during level three of lockdown as Mzansi battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of her motivation is that many South Africans will have quit by the time the pandemic subsides. But is it indeed better to quit the habit?

Last Sunday was World No Tobacco Day.

The National Council Against Smoking says the theme this year was “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing nicotine and tobacco addiction in youth”.

“This is especially relevant to South Africa, which has a youth population that uses a range of tobacco and nicotine products,” says the statement from the council.

“Tobacco use is responsible for 42 100 deaths in South Africa annually, and an estimated 80% of adult smokers begin smoking in their teenage years. Most smokers also report that they would like to stop smoking but struggle to do so.

“Nicotine in e-cigarettes and tobacco products is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s brain development, with exposure during this stage in their lives potentially causing lasting severe consequences including detrimental e­ects on cognition, attention and moods.”

While many smokers refuse to give up the habit by force, others are welcoming the intervention and are trying various ways, from going cold turkey to using nicotine replacement therapy and other aids.

But many former smokers swear by the Allen Carr method. He is regarded as the world’s leading expert on quitting smoking, having first published his book, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, in 1985. What’s unique about his approach is that his method removes your psychological dependence on tobacco.

His tips include to set a date and time on when you will stop naturally without cutting down first.

“Get it into your mind that you are losing nothing, and you are making marvellous positive gains not only in health energy and money, but also in confidence, self-respect, freedom and, most important of all, in the length and quality of your future life,” he writes.

“You’re going to enjoy being a non-smoker right from the moment you put out your last cigarette.”

He says have that final cigarette and make a solemn vow never to light up again, promising that the physical withdrawal is a quick phase that passes quickly.

“If you’re o­ered a cigarette, just say: “No thanks, I don’t smoke, rather than start a long conversation about how long it has been since you stopped,” he writes.

CANSA.org recommends throwing away all reminders of smoking: cigarette packets, ashtrays, lighters and to drink lots of water – it will help flush the nicotine from your body. There are also several apps you can download to quit the habit.

Most of these are rewarding apps that motivate you, help you count how much money you’ve saved and give several health benefits for each day that you beat the craving. These include MyQuit Coach, Cessation Nation, QuitNow!, Smoke Free, Kwit, Get Rich or Die Smoking, SmokeFree and Quit Tracker, among others.

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