Jan 15, 2010

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

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.

I heard a lecture from a cancer researcher, and he was asked what the next big break through would be in eliminating cancer. 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!!!! Have you quit smoking yet?

There has been a Manitoba wide smoking ban since October 1, 2004. It is hard to believe that is now over 5 years ago. Across the pond in the European Union, Ireland was first to institute smoking ban in March 2004. Bans now exist in Italy, Spain, Belgium and Britain. On January 1, 2008, the smoking ban in France was extended to bars, discotheques, restaurants, hotels and cafes. Those romantic images of people in Paris discussing the issues of the day in a Parisian caf over a cigarette and caf au lait are a thing of the past. Who says the world doesnt follow Manitobas lead?

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. The numbers double to about 20% if a medication and a detailed smoking cessation plan worked out with a health care professional are added onto just plain will power.

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 the same as the nicotine gum or nicotine patch. 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. The added bonus is psychological. People who have used the Lollipop say they like that they are still putting something in their mouth like they used to do with cigarettes.

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.

Lets say we have a smoker with a craving at a meeting, and sticking something like a lollipop in their mouth is inappropriate. What should they 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 are compounding 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, but it also must be kept away from children because it would be toxic if ingested. The Nic-Stix will melt easily, so it should be kept in a cool place, but is small enough to be carried almost anywhere.

Smoking kills three times more people than alcohol, AIDS, illicit drugs, car accidents, suicide and murder all combined. Quitting smoking is very difficult, and it takes the average ex-smoker six serious quit attempts before they succeed, but the results are worth it.

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


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