Butt out: it’s National Non-Smoking Week

MANITOULIN—There are more than 1.6 million smokers in Ontario and research shows that up to 80 percent of them have tried to quit. Tobacco use is responsible for more than 13,000 premature deaths every year in Ontario, making it the number one cause of preventable illness and death in our province, a press release from the Ontario Lung Association states.

But it is extremely difficult to break the vice-like grip of nicotine addiction and hardly anyone gets there on the first try. In fact, it may take some people five or six attempts before they finally manage to quit smoking for good.

Fortunately, no one has to do it alone. There are many supports available to help people quit.

Among the more popular is a range of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. Nicotine is not harmful but it is the addictive substance that keeps people wanting to light up. NRT works by giving smokers the nicotine they used to get from cigarettes. It comes in different forms—as a gum, a patch, a lozenge, a mouth spray and an inhaler—most of which are available over the counter at pharmacies. These types of NRT are a better choice than getting nicotine from smoking.

The Ontario Lung Association offers several tools to help people quit smoking:

· A free workbook called Journey 2 Quit that is packed with ideas to help you make a quitting plan.

· Certified Respiratory Educators are available to offer advice to help you quit. Phone the Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or email info@on.lung.ca.

· For a different type of distraction when a craving hits, download the free Quit and Get Fit iPhone app from the iTunes app store. Players are challenged to take a deep breath and blow into their phones, using their lung capacity to play a game of hockey or golf.

· The Quit and Get Fit program is available again at select fitness facilities. Quit and Get Fit is based on scientific studies showing that physical activity can help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and assist in curbing post-quitting weight gain.

If you are thinking of quitting, set a quit date and make a plan to avoid places, people and things that trigger your urge to smoke. It also helps to tell your family and friends and let them know you want their encouragement. It’s great to have that social support.