It may be hard to watch the person you care for start, or continue to smoke when you know it is damaging their health. Or you may also smoke cigarettes and want to quit to improve your health and not expose others to passive smoking.
Giving up smoking can be hard and might even take a few tries before someone can stop smoking all together. But it is worth trying for individual health, the health of those around you, and the cost.
It is important that smokers decide to quit for their own benefit, not because someone else wants them to. If you are ready to quit there is support available for you. And as a carer, you can help the person you care for decide to quit, and support and encourage them once they have quit smoking.
Why give up smoking?
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals.
- Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, lung disease and stroke.
- People who smoke every day are more than twice as likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Smoking reduces fertility in both men and women and smoking while pregnant exposes a baby to harmful chemicals.
It is also very expensive to smoke, where people smoke an average of 13 cigarettes a day in Australia, over ten-years this adds up to nearly $47,450 on smoking, and the cost is going up. You can calculate how much a person could save by quitting.
The good news is the body starts repairing itself as soon as a person stops smoking, no matter how long you have been a smoker. Twelve hours after stopping, almost all nicotine is out of the body, and most by-products are gone within five days. There are improvements in breathing and sense of taste and smell in just a few days, and they are no longer exposing family and friends to passive smoking. (Source: Cancer Council)
To improve the chances of quitting, it is best talked about with a doctor or pharmacist as there are many methods including Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), stopping suddenly (cold turkey), prescription medicines and support services like Quitline.
The Australian Government Department of Health’s website has more information on the ways to quit smoking, and there are many organisations that offer information and supports listed below.
What about e-cigarettes and vaping?
If you have heard that e-cigarettes or vaping can help you quit smoking, you should first speak with your doctor.
E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) are battery‑operated devices that make vapour for breathing in (inhalation) by heating a liquid. Using an e-cigarette is commonly known as ‘vaping’. E-cigarettes may look like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens or memory sticks.
The liquids used in e-cigarettes may:
- contain toxic chemicals including those that add flavour,
- contain nicotine, and
- sometimes contain nicotine even if it is labelled as ‘nicotine free’.
They are sometimes marketed as a way to quit smoking, but there’s not enough evidence to show that they help – or are safe. (source: Department of Health)
Are e-cigarettes legal?
From 1 October 2021, the possession or use of nicotine vaping products, without a prescription is illegal. All e-cigarettes that contain nicotine require a prescription from a doctor.
Australians will need a prescription to legally access nicotine containing e‑cigarette products for any purpose. This includes getting these products from overseas – both bringing them back from travel and ordering them online. Find out more on the TGA’s website about these rules.
NPS MedicineWise also had a flowchart which shows how to access e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping products legally in Australia Accessing nicotine e-cigarettes and vaping products flow chart
- this does not change access to Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) that are still currently available without a prescription like sprays, patches, lozenges and gums.
- there are no changes to using e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine, or tobacco prepared and packed for smoking
More information available from:
- Australian Government Department of Health ‘About e-cigarettes’
- Australian Government’s guiding principles for e-cigarettes
- Australian Government Department of Health ‘How to quit smoking’
- You can call the Quitlineon 137 848 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday to talk to a counsellor. There is also an online chat service.
- Cancer Institute of NSW iCanQuit
- Cancer Council ‘Quit smoking’
- Healthdirect ‘Quitting smoking’
- Heart Foundation ‘Quit smoking action plan’