How much do these products cost?

These are the approximate costs for 3 months, if you are paying yourself.

• Boots 2mg gum £120

• Nicorette inhalator £300

• Nicorette spray £110

• Nicorette patches up to £150.

You will save your money and your life for many years ahead -think of this cost as a down payment towards better health. The good news is that nicotine replacement therapy is now approved by the National Health Service and is regarded as the drug treatment of choice. The family doctor and the patient must follow an agreed protocol and set a target stop date before a prescription is allowed.

I have been trying to find a support group - can they help me?

They certainly help. You will feel less alone, get support and help _L from others and be amongst people all trying to succeed. Phone QUIT on 020 7388 5775, or check with your local health authority for locations. QUITLINE (0800 00 22 00) provides trained counsellors to give advice, support and encouragement. The website is quit.org.uk (see Appendix 2).

There are now NHS helplines in England and Wales (0800 169 0169), Scotland (0800 84 84 84) and Northern Ireland (0800 85 85 85). Also try sickofsmoking.com to see what other smokers say Other good sites are ash.org.uk and givingupsmoking.co.uk.

Are herbal cigarettes or dummy cigarettes worth trying?

Dummy cigarettes, such as Crave Away, Flowers or Everlasting Cigarettes, are neither harmful nor proven to be effective. Herbal cigarettes do not contain nicotine but still expose your body to tar and carbon monoxide, and are of no proven value.

Would it be better if I used a filter?

Liters can be a good idea, but unfortunately do not work for most people. Nicobrevin may help in the first weeks but should not be relied on as a long-term prop. It should be avoided if you are pregnant. Note that filters remove some of the tar but little of the risk of heart disease!

Why do some people smoke like chimneys but live a long life all the same?

Most people know someone like this. It is all about statistics: if 90% of people die from smoking, then 10% won't. The point is that the odds are against you, and trying to get away with it, or believing it can't happen to you, is courting disaster.

If someone introduced a product onto the market now that was addictive, removed oxygen from your blood, caused blood clotting, heart attacks and lung cancer, do you think they would get a licence?

I have heard a lot about Zyban. Does it help stop smoking and how does it work?

Zyban is the trade name for the drug buproprion. It is a drug used to treat depression but it was also found to help people stop smoking. How it does this is unclear but it seems to reduce the urge for nicotine and is effective for some people. It should be started 1-2 weeks before the target stop date and continued for 7-9 weeks after. It should not be used in anyone with a history of seizures (fits) or eating disorders. It also has the potential to react with some drugs. Zyban should only be used after careful discussion with your family doctor - it is available on NHS prescription.

One of my friends is taking Champix - does it work?

Champix is one of the trade names for varenicline, a new prescription-only drug which acts like nicotine and so reduces the craving for smoking. It has been shown to be very effective. You need to start it 1-2 weeks before the target stop date you agree with your doctor. The course of the treatment is about 3 months and can be repeated to prevent a relapse, though the evidence to support this is limited. Side effects include stomach upsets, dry mouth, taste disturbance, headaches, sleep disturbance, dizziness and abnormal dreams. If stopped suddenly, irritability and depression can occur. There are reports of hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and reports of suicide after starting varenicline. No definite connection with Champix has been made, but any change in mood or behavior should be reported to your doctor.

I had a heart attack a year ago when I was 61. Is it too late to stop smoking?

t is never too late. Stopping smoking after a heart attack reduces by half your chance of having another one in the next 5 years. Stopping smoking after a heart bypass operation reduces your chances of a bypass failure over the next 10-15 years and helps prevent further disease developing.

What is a smoking cessation clinic - is it worth a try?

Special clinics and specially trained nurses and smoking cessation advisors provide support and achieve high success rates in smoking cessation (quitting). Support is usually given in groups over 6 weeks and most services also offer one-to-one counseling. Clinics take direct referrals from those wanting to stop (in a walk-in service) as well as working in partnership with family doctors. They are recommended for heavily dependent smokers needing intensive support or pregnant women especially. However, they are available to all, either in a clinic setting or as part of a local primary care service. Stopping smoking is so important: if you are having any difficulty, certainly give them a try.

Can you tell me more about blood pressure? Why is it serious if it becomes high?

We need a blood pressure to send blood around our bodies (see Chapter 1). It is needed to overcome the resistance of the smaller blood vessels. The arteries in the body have muscle in their walls to give them tone. If this muscle is supple, the arteries can

 
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