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Senior Life: Smoking Cessation

Pharmacy, Senior Life: Tips for Healthy Living

Smoking Cessation

 As the new year quickly approaches, you may be thinking about ways to better your health for a new you in 2023. If you use nicotine products, the best way to improve your well-being would be to quit. Smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco are very addictive habits that can lead to various problems with your health. It is possible to quit, even after a long history of using nicotine! Quitting at any time in your life will help to lower your risk of developing long-term complications. Here at Lewis, the pharmacists understand that not all quit plans will work for everyone. Our pharmacists have been trained to help customers create a quit plan that is personal to their needs to ensure success. They are also knowledgeable about all of the different medications used to assist with quit attempts, whether it’s over-the-counter or prescription-only therapy. In this article, read about the risks of nicotine use, the benefits of quitting, and the medications used to assist you in quitting. 

Risks with Nicotine Use

  • Diagnosis of Cancer and Lung Diseases:
    • Lung, mouth, throat, larynx, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectal cancer
    • Asthma, COPD, and emphysema
  • Diagnosis of Heart Disease and Cardiac Events:
    • High blood pressure and heart rate, high cholesterol, heart attack, and blood clots that can lead to a pulmonary embolism or stroke
  • Vision and Hearing Loss
  • Premature Wrinkling and Blemishes
  • Erectile Dysfunction

Health Benefits with Quitting

  • Within 20 Minutes: Heart rate and blood pressure start to normalize
  • Within 24 Hours: The level of carbon monoxide in the blood lowers, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to your organs
  • Within 2-12 Weeks: Blood circulation, phlegm build up, and persistent cough improves
  • Within 1 Month: Lung function improves
  • Within 1-10 Years: Risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases is lowered
  • Within 15 Years: Risk of coronary heart disease is close to that of a non-smoker

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy is a group of medications that do not require a prescription and are available over-the-counter at the pharmacy. There are also other medications that aid in quitting that require a prescription. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to decide which option is best for you.

Nicotine Patches

  • How They Work:
    • Releases a steady dose of nicotine that is absorbed through the skin to prevent symptoms of nicotine withdrawal
  • Tips For Use:
  • Apply to the skin daily and alternate application sites with each new patch
  • Easy to use, easy to hide, and have very few side effects
  • Potential Side Effects: 
    • Works in the background, so is not used for short-term nicotine cravings
    • Can cause mild skin irritation or rashes
    • Can cause vivid dreaming and nightmares

Nicotine Gum

  • How It Works: 
    • Releases a small amount of nicotine to help subside a short-term nicotine craving
  • Tips For Use: 
    • Chew until peppery taste is released, then park the piece between the teeth and gums for 1 minute, then continue to repeat this process for about 30 minutes
    • Do not eat or drink while using
    • Easy to use, has flexible dosing, and works quickly
    • Can use with other nicotine replacement therapies such as patches
    • Can only use 24 pieces in a 24 hour period
  • Potential Side Effects:
    • Dental or jaw pain
    • May not be tolerable for those with a history of dental or jaw issues

Nicotine Lozenges

  • How They Work: 
    • Releases a small amount of nicotine to help subside a short-term nicotine craving
  • Tips For Use: 
    • Park the lozenge in between the cheek and gum, then let it dissolve for about 30 minutes, moving around occasionally from one side of the mouth to the other
    • Do not chew or bite the lozenge
    • Do not eat or drink while using
    • Convenient, works quickly, and has flexible dosing 
    • Can use with other nicotine replacement therapies such as patches
    • Can only use 20 lozenges in a 24 hour period
  • Potential Side Effects:
    • Nausea
    • Heartburn
    • Hiccups

Resources for Quitting

  • Call, text, or visit the Quitline website
    • Smokefree.gov/talk-to-an-expert
    • Text “CDC” to 47848
    • (800) QUITNOW or (800) 784-8669
      • You will be transferred to your state-specific Quitline to review the resources available in your area
        • Potential resources may include free quit guides, phone coaching, and medications to help you quit
  • Apple or Android apps:
    • Smoke Free
    • QuitStart
    • QuitSmoke

Dani Oelerking, PharmD

Lewis Drug and South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy Resident

References

Burden of cigarette use in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/data/cigarette-smoking-in-united-states.htm;. Published August 3, 2022. 

Enjoy benefits of being smokefree. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/rewards-of-quitting.html. Published February 4, 2022.. 

Guide for quitting smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/index.html. Published August 5, 2021.

Health benefits of quitting smoking over time. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/benefits-of-quitting-smoking-over-time.html

Nicotine replacement therapy to help you quit tobacco. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking/nicotine-replacement-therapy.html#references

Tips From Former Smokers. Smokefree. https://smokefree.gov/tips

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