Quitting Smoking

Jan 10, 2011

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

I was talking to my friend Peter over the holidays. We grew up in the same town, on the same street, went to same school and he was the best man at my wedding. He and his wife Lili have two twin boys who are 3 and a half. We were talking about our kids and Christmas. Apparently, I am failing as a parent. We both reminisced about how much fun it was when we were kids to go out into the bush and cut down a Christmas tree. My kids, however, have never had a real Christmas tree. They have only ever known a plastic tree. Peter is the better parent. Although he lives in Hong Kong, he always buys his kids a real tree. That was just one of the ways Peter seems to be out parenting me. Maybe my New Years Resolution should be to spend more time with my kids.

What about your New Years Resolutions? Are you thinking of quitting smoking this year? I recently heard a lecture from a cancer researcher. He was asked what would be the next big cancer break through. He said we can already significantly reduce the amount of cancer in the population. He said the number 1, 2, 3, and 4 best things for reducing cancer in the population is quitting smoking. So.HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Now is the time to quit.

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? 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. 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.

The first thing you may want to do is check with your doctor and pick a medication to help you. Many people have already tried the nicotine patch, the nicotine gum and the prescription pills Zyban or Champix. Maybe its time to try something different. How about a Nicotine Lollipop or a Nix Stix? Nicotine Lollipops and Nix Stixs are prescription items that we can custom make for people under the direction of their doctor.

At the moment we make 2mg and 4mg Nicotine Lollipops in strawberry flavor, but we can customize the flavor or the strength under the direction of your doctor. 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 I need? Your doctor will help you choose when they write the prescription, 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.

What if you are a smoker with a craving at a meeting, and sticking something like a lollipop into your mouth is inappropriate? What should you do? Well the nicotine patch is too slow for an immediate craving. What if you had a discreet little applicator which you could rub on your wrist and get nicotine immediately? Well at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy, we compound such a device for patients at the request of their doctors. We call it a Nic-Stix and with a prescription from your doctor, we can compound a device that looks like a chap stick tube. The Nic-Stix has 30mg of nicotine in it so is will last 1-4 weeks depending on use. The Nic-Stix will melt easily, so it should be kept in a cool place, but is small enough to be carried almost anywhere. Like the Nicotine Lollipop, it also must be kept away from children because it would be toxic if ingested.

My five year old son has decided he really likes Silent Night, or as he calls it That Sleep in Heavenly Peace song. Of course he learned it from a Pampers Commercial instead of from Church, because again I am failing as a parent. Eric wondered why I dont go into his room every night and sing That Sleep in Heavenly Peace song to him. If you have ever heard me sing you will not be surprised to hear that Eric has tubes in his ears, and occasional trouble hearing. So while I warm up my vocal cords to try to live up to my Resolution to spend more time with my kids, I wish you good luck and good health while you try to quit smoking.

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

We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca

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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