Smoking Cessation

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Australia. Quitting smoking is associated with better outcomes for many health conditions and diseases. Some prescription medications can help with smoking cessation.

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Speaking to a GP is an excellent starting point if you are considering stopping smoking or vaping.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body with every cigarette doing the body harm. However, the body begins to repair itself as soon as smoking has ceased, reducing the risk of developing many diseases. Some people will start to notice the benefits quite quickly.

The first month

  • In 12 hours excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood
  • In 5 days most nicotine is out of your body
  • In 1 week your sense of taste and smell improves
  • In 1 month your skin appearance is likely to improve

The first year

  • In 2 months your lungs will no longer be producing extra phlegm caused by smoking
  • In 3 months your lung function and blood flow improves
  • In 12 months your risk of heart disease has halved

Longer term benefits

  • In 5 years your risk of a stroke has dramatically decreased
  • In 10 years your risk of lung cancer is less than half that of a continuing smoker and continues to fall
  • In 15 years your risk of heart attack and stroke is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked

Several population groups have either higher rates of smoking, greater risk of adverse effects or particular needs in terms of cessation support. A combination of behavioural support along with pharmacotherapy to treat nicotine dependence maximises the chances of successful long-term cessation.

Smoking cessation products such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and some prescription medications can help with the chances of success by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Some NRTs are available at a reduced price through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for all eligible Australians (including concession card holders). A GP will need to give you a prescription so take the opportunity to talk about which products will work best for you.

Other tips for quitting smoking are to set a quit date, seek support from loved ones or join a support group, and stay committed to your decision. Replace smoking with healthy habits, stay active, and manage stress.

Without a prescription from a GP, electronic cigarettes (‘e-cigarettes’ or ‘vapes’) can only be purchased in Australia as nicotine-free products. To get a nicotine filled e-cigarette or vape, you will need a prescription from a doctor.

The best place to start for advice on how to quit smoking or vaping is with a GP. They will be able to discuss the appropriate options available and where appropriate put you on a smoking cessation plan.

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