Finally, you want to quit smoking? Here’s how to do it – successfully!

Finally, you want to quit smoking? Here’s how to do it – successfully!

Smoking increases your risk of heart attack – below tips in this article will help you stop smoking successfully without failure

Did you know that smokers die on average ten years earlier than non-smokers? Read here how you can quit smoking.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for vascular disease and heart attack

Want to protect yourself from a heart attack? It’s hard to do better than to quit smoking. Even though many smokers often refuse to admit it: Of all the risk factors for vascular diseases and heart attacks, smoking is the most important and therefore even more dangerous than hypertension, diabetes mellitus, fat metabolism disorders and obesity. But how can you successfully quit smoking? And is it really worth it – after decades of smoking?

Quitting smoking is always worth it!

Our bodies are a little wonder – especially when it comes to recovery! In fact, even hard-core smokers who have decades of smoking behind them benefit from quitting. Their risk of dying from a heart attack is already reduced by almost half after five years. Giving up nicotine from the age of 60 statistically prolongs life by three years. From the age of 50, it is six years and from the age of 40, even about nine years of life. The lungs can also breathe: just three months after quitting smoking, lung capacity can increase by up to 30 percent.

Becoming a non-smoker – but how to quit smoking without failure?

Do you want to finally quit smoking for the sake of your health? Maybe you’ve already made several attempts? Then you know that good intentions are often not enough. For many, switching to an e-cigarette seems like a reasonable alternative. The German Cancer Research Center states, based on current research, that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. But that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Most e-cigarettes also inhale nicotine, which is addictive and promotes the growth of existing tumors. In addition, nicotine is suspected of causing cancer. Added to this is the fact that the liquids and aerosol in some e-cigarettes contain carcinogens. A study has shown, for example, that when smokers switch to e-cigarettes, the detectable concentration of health-harming substances, such as tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines, decreases in urine and saliva. But the concentration of nicotine remains the same1. Rather than switching to e-cigarettes, it is therefore preferable to stop smoking altogether.

E-cigarettes: The difference between vaping and heating

For consumers, the market for alternatives to cigarettes has become quite confusing with new products. Often, the different systems are lumped together and called e-cigarettes. There are notable differences not only in the technique, but also in the ingredients, which can also have different health consequences. Here are the three main groups.

Vaporizers: in vaporizers, a heating element powered by a battery heats a liquid (the so-called liquid). The result is the typical vapor that is then inhaled through a mouthpiece. These are in fact the typical e-cigarettes. The liquids come in different flavors, with or without nicotine. In direct comparison to traditional cigarettes, the aerosols released by vaping contain less carcinogenic substances. But during the vaping process, other decomposition products, also harmful, can be generated, especially by additives in the liquids. In addition, one study indicates that vaping may adversely affect oral flora2. Most importantly, many e-cigarette users continue to smoke regular cigarettes in addition. The German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) estimates that nearly 90% of them do so. However, according to the DKFZ, it is precisely this double consumption that increases the toxic load.

Heater: in this type of cigarette, often called hermaphrodite cigarette, tobacco is still used. But it is not burned (otherwise at about 800 degrees), but heated electrically to about 300-350 degrees. To do this, the most common devices place a ready-to-use tobacco stick in a holder. The resulting vapor is absorbed through the mouthpiece and inhaled. Again, studies show that the vapor contains significantly less carcinogens such as aldehydes and benzene. However, the researchers are sceptical about the possibility of a reduction in health risks. It remains to be seen whether harmful substances are released from the plastic filters or other metal and plastic parts of the heater. The effects of the vapor on lung tissue are also still being studied.

Shisha: Hookahs, which are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, can be used with or without tobacco. If tobacco is used, it is not burned directly as with a cigarette. The moist tobacco is charred at low temperature by glowing charcoal placed on top (or an electric heat source). The smoke is then sucked up by water and inhaled. Because of the toxic and carcinogenic substances contained in the smoke, the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) considers smoking shisha to be as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.

New Treatment Guideline for Smoking Cessation

In spring 2021, the treatment guideline for smoking cessation was updated, including behavioral therapy, alternatives to smoking, and new medications that can help with cessation. She summarizes how physicians and psychotherapists can help smokers quit. She rejects electronic cigarettes: They should not be offered to reduce cigarette consumption. Instead, nicotine replacement therapy (gum, inhalers, lozenges, nasal or oral sprays and patches) should be offered for withdrawal and relapse prevention. Medicines containing bupropion or varenicline should be offered as an alternative to nicotine replacement therapy. The active substance cytisine is now mentioned. It can be offered for smoking cessation, taking into account the possible risks, when other authorized forms of treatment have not been successful.

How to become a non-smoker

Have a clear goal in mind: why do I want to quit smoking?

Do you want to protect yourself from diseases such as heart attack, stroke and cancer? Do you want to feel better and fitter? Think carefully about why it’s important for you to quit smoking. When we have a clear goal in mind, it is easier to accept changes in our lives. Sometimes it is also helpful to write down all the benefits of not smoking. You’ll see, there are many!

Set a concrete time to start

Don’t put off becoming a non-smoker for the uncertain future. Set a mandatory quit date. This type of planned quitting is also called the end-point principle and is scientifically the most effective method. If you’re having trouble quitting, you can also set smaller goals at first. For example, make your smoking less comfortable and decide to smoke only outside. It may also be helpful to stop smoking all of your cigarettes, but only half of them. Whichever method you choose: Always stick to the start time you set.

Distract yourself and look for alternatives.

All smokers know how strong the urge to smoke can be. If that feeling comes over you, try to distract yourself. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a glass of water and focusing on something else – perhaps you make a habit of having fruit or vegetables on hand at these times. Relaxation exercises can also distract you, as can small rewards – hopefully not in the form of gummy bears or chocolate. A smoking protocol is also helpful. Write down the times when you feel like smoking a cigarette and find out your personal addictive situations.

Be active!

Studies have shown that regular physical activity has an immediate positive effect on your desire to smoke and on withdrawal symptoms. Put some sport in your life!

Quit smoking with medication

Have you tried all the tips and tricks and still can’t quit? Then nicotine replacement products can be a way to quit smoking. The first choice is nicotine replacement products. They can be chewing gums, sucking tablets, sprays or patches.

What to do after a relapse?

Contact your family doctor. He or she can help you with targeted behavioral training and, if necessary, prescribe medication to help you quit. Or he or she can help you find an appropriate psychotherapist. Often, the combined use of nicotine substitutes, such as a patch plus nicotine gum, spray or inhaler, is also helpful.

Is there financial support for cessation?

Some health insurance companies already cover the costs of certified cessation programs. So far, nicotine replacement products have to be paid for by the patients themselves and smoking cessation drugs (all of which are subject to prescription) have to be paid for by the patients themselves on the basis of a private prescription.