ately, the whites of my eyes were back
to normal in about three weeks, the
coughing subsided and after about a
month, I could run up the stairs again.”
After two months, friends began
remarking on her radiant skin; still later,
her teeth began looking less stained.
Plus she was no longer spending $350
a month on smokes, or making impulse
buys prompted by frequent trips to
In the past, Knecht would light a
cigarette as a reward for a job done.
After quitting, she pooled her first
months’ unspent dollars for a dream
trip to New York City. “Giving yourself
rewards is hugely important in those
early months,” she says.
Three years later, Knecht fends off
the occasional “it sure would be nice to
smoke” moment with the mantra that
has become her safety net: I’m a puff
away from a pack a day.
“I would rather send off those thoughts
for the rest of my life than ever have
to quit again. The power nicotine has
on you is incredible; it controlled every
waking moment of my day. I am so
pleased to take that power back.”
— Cheryl Mahaffy
IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES:
QUIT SMOKING AIDS
Tobacco cessation medications relieve nicotine cravings and withdrawal
symptoms. Used by nearly half of smokers who try to quit, such medications
are more effective when combined with counselling and/or support groups.
Nicotine replacement therapy. Patches, gum, mouth spray, lozenges and
inhalers that contain lower amounts of nicotine than cigarettes, chewing
tobacco or snuff. Available without prescription, they can meet immediate
urges and double smokers’ chances of success.
Prescription withdrawal medications. Options include bupropion (sold as
Zyban® and Wellbutrin®), an antidepressant that can make it easier to quit;
and varenicline tartrate (Champix®), which binds to the nicotine receptors
in the brain to reduce cravings and make smoking less enjoyable. Clinically
proven to triple and even quadruple quit smoking rates, they do not work
Other stop-smoking aids such as hypnosis, acupuncture and laser therapy
seem to work for some but aren’t yet scientifically proven to be effective. Health
experts warn against e-cigarettes, which are unproven and may be harmful.
SOURCES: albertaquits.ca, lung.ca and the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey
TAKE FIVE: TIPS FOR QUITTING
Pulling free from tobacco’s grip is no small feat. Here are five strategies that
have worked for many others.
1. List the reasons why you want to quit. The longer your list and the stronger
your desire, the higher your odds of success.
2. Enlist support. Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, coffee mates, sport
buddies, doctor, pharmacist, Alberta Quits (1-866-710-QUIT) and anyone else
who can help.
3. Set, plan, act. Set a quit day and back it up with a plan. Use at least two
proven quit-smoking methods, such as a support group, counselling, online
help, medications and/or nicotine replacement. Sign up, set the date, clear away
smoking clutter, and stock up on water, gum and whatever else you’ll need.
4. Minimize triggers. Track your smoking patterns, identify when you crave
cigarettes and have strategies for dealing with those situations in other ways.
One easy-to-remember list:
Delay. Cravings usually go away within 10 minutes.
Distract. Learn guitar, take up knitting, put up a greenhouse, or experiment
in the kitchen. Find new interests to keep your hands, mind and mouth busy.
Deep breathe. Relax and focus your mind on something else.
Drink water. Flush the bad stuff out of your system while keeping your
hands and mouth busy. And while you’re at it, eat healthy.
Do something. Walk, run, bike or swim. As little as five minutes of physical
activity can reduce your desire to smoke.
5. Quit—and believe it. Think of yourself as a non-smoker and celebrate every
success. If you slip up, don’t think you’ve failed. Learn the lesson and try,
SOURCES: Alberta Quits, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Nearly half of Canada’s smokers
try to quit each year, many more
than once. Younger smokers are
most likely to make the attempt.
Cutting back is the most
common strategy for quitting,
used in more than two-thirds
of attempts, and rising.
About one-quarter of tobacco
users have tried to quit by
making a deal with a friend
or family member.
SOURCE: C TUMS