With a new year comes new resolutions! Is it time to quit smoking?

Jan 12, 2021

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Many smarter people than me have noted that 2020 was a bit of a dumpster fire. There was that world wide viral pandemic, the likes of which no one has seen since 1918. There was civil unrest south of the border. Many people's jobs ended or they had their hours cut. And then there are the lock-downs. We're all tired of the lock-downs. 2021 will be better. It has to be better. The COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out. The roll out is slower than we'd like, but they are rolling out. The World Junior's happened. Okay, Canada got Silver, but the tournament happened and there was hockey on TV. The NHL is starting. And I have another suggestion to keep the mildly better than terrible times rolling in 2021.

Skip the usual resolutions this year. Keep on eating that deep fried bacon wrapped ice cream while binging on Netflix. We are still in a lock-down. What else were you going to do at home? Interact with your wife and family? That's just crazy talk. I suggest you ignore all your other problems and focus on just one thing. 2021 is the Year to Quit Smoking! Smoking is the number 1 cause of premature death in North America. Name a body part, and we can tell you how smoking is bad for it. Other than the heart and lungs that everyone knows about, let's talk about some less discussed problems. Smoking decreases the blood flow to the skin, and this leads to leathery-looking skin and increased wrinkling. The more you smoke, the more likely you are to get cataracts -an eye problem that can lead to blindness. Smoking is the main reason people get cancer in the mouth. Smoking makes it harder for your saliva to remove germs in your mouth. You'll get stains, bad breath, and a higher chance of gum disease. Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop psoriasis - a disfiguring red and silver rash that can occur anywhere on your body. Smokers are more prone to stomach ulcers. The ulcers don't heal as fast, and they're more likely to recur. There's also growing evidence that smoking may increase the risk of chronic bowel disease. Finally, guys, smoking causes impotence.

Are you ready to quit this year? Great! A positive attitude is a good first step. But you have to be realistic. It won't be easy. The numbers I could find said that only about 10% of people who try to quit cold turkey will succeed. There is a way to double your odds of quitting. About 20% of smokers will successfully kick the habit if they use a medication and a detailed smoking cessation plan worked out with a health care professional.

What medications are available to help quit smoking? The most popular, by far, is the prescription pill called Champix or varenicline. It works well, but the reason it is popular is because it is the only medication that is covered by Pharmacare if you are over your dectuctible. Other medications include the prescription pill Zyban and nicotine patches, sprays, gums and lozenges. If you want to try something different, how about a Nicotine Lollipop? Nicotine Lollipops are prescription items that the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy can custom make for people under the direction of their doctor.

We make 2mg and 4mg Nicotine Lollipops. The idea behind the Nicotine Lollipop is we are putting some of the nicotine back into your system that the cigarette used to provide. This will help reduce (not eliminate) the cravings for cigarettes. There is an added bonus. People who have used the Lollipop say they like that they are still putting something in their mouth like they used to do with a cigarette.

How do you use the Nicotine Lollipop and how long does it last? This will vary person to person, but in general one Lollipop will last about 1/2 a pack of cigarettes. During your regular cigarette break you put the Lollipop in your mouth for about 5 minutes or until the craving passes (whichever is less) and then you reseal the Lollipop in our special child proof container and put it away until your next craving. What strength of Lollipop do you need? That will depend on the patient, but usually the 2mg Lollipop is for 1 or less packs a day, and the 4 mg is for people who smoke more than a pack a day.

The 2020 dumpster fire is in the rearview mirror, but it isn't out of site yet. Some 2020 problems like Donald Trump, kids taking classes online instead of in person and COVID-19 will stubbornly hang on for a little while longer. But if you start quitting smoking now, that nicotine habit could be a thing of the past when we are finally allowed to go out and see other people again.

As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.


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