A quarter of Czech smokers try to quit each year, but up to 80 % don’t manage to kick their addiction


31. 05. 2023

Smoking and nicotine addiction are known to highly increase the risk of a whole plethora of serious diseases However, there are a large number of products on the market that can help quit and replace nicotine for smokers who are trying to quit. How to break the vicious cycle of quitting and failing and when to start your tobacco-free journey? It may be easier than you think!

Although the number of smokers in the Czech Republic is decreasing steadily by almost 2 % each year, more than a quarter of the population over the age of 15 still smokes. Despite the fact that the negative impact of smoking on human health is well known, new types of cigarettes and nicotine-containing products are constantly entering the market.

From heart attack to cancer

It's important to remember that smoking harms health – and new types of tobacco products don't change that. The risk is highly associated with the burned forms of tobacco because the risk is doubled-combustion causes health problems and nicotine causes addiction. Smokers in particular are at significantly higher risk of lung, heart and blood vessel disease. For example, smokers under 60 have up to five times the risk of myocardial infarction. Stroke and cancer are no exceptions. Women in particular are at risk of premature thinning of the bones - osteoporosis, and men of erectile dysfunction. Smoking also has a negative effect on fertility in both sexes.

Smoking tobacco products can also cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which causes chronic inflammation of the lungs and therefore reduced bronchial permeability. However, the most common health risk of smoking is also the most talked about- cancer. Despite popular belief, cancer can take many forms and is not limited to just the lungs in smokers. Cancer of the larynx, oesophagus, kidney, bladder or pancreas is also very common. Up to half of all smokers will shorten their lives by an average of 15 years as a result of smoking. Alarmingly, smoking is also responsible for around 90 % of all lung cancers.

Patience is the key to quitting

According to statistics, up to 80 % of smokers in the Czech Republic want to kick their addiction, and half of them try to quit every year. But problems often arise if they do so without any support. In 98 % of cases, the efforts are in vain and the person relapses, i.e. returns to smoking. On average, a 20-25% success rate in kicking nicotine addiction is recorded each year. The unfavourable fact, however, is that 75-80 % of smokers cured in this way return to their addiction (which is comparable in intensity to heroin addiction) within a year. It is therefore important to realise that one is addicted for life. It is therefore about taking controlling one's addiction.

Although the journey to quit is often long and difficult, experts will assure you that there are many proven ways to achieve success. If a smoker wants to kick the habit and help improve his or her health, there are several ways to quit. One of these is to seek help directly from a pharmacy from a specially trained pharmacist who specialises in this area and is able to guide the smoker through the entire quitting process or, if necessary and based on an assessment of the severity of the smoker's health or the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms, refer the smoker directly to a tobacco dependence treatment centre. Withdrawal symptoms persist for up to three months, sometimes longer. Typical symptoms include sweating, difficulty sleeping, feelings of internal tension, irritability, nervousness, low mood and sometimes digestive problems. However, once the critical period is over, the abstaining person's condition should start to improve.

Help with quitting

It is always a good idea to have an alternative source of nicotine on hand, such as nicotine lozenges or gum, to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Alternatives include nicotine patches, which keep the nicotine level in the body at a constant low level almost all day, or nicotine mouth sprays, which work in as little as 30 seconds.  Nicotine replacement therapy products, registered as over-the-counter medicines, are available in practically every pharmacy. People who are quitting smoking are also advised to change their habits - for example, to snack on nuts instead of smoking, to chew gum, to drink tea instead of coffee, or to try replacing the craving for a cigarette with exercise or other activity. Even these seemingly insignificant changes can significantly help a smoker fight their nicotine addiction.

Smokers get a double whammy – from the negative impact of cigarette smoke on human health, but also from nicotine addiction. E-cigarettes, nicotine sachets and other forms of nicotine use will never completely rid a person of their addiction. They are only a lower-risk option for human health, but cannot be considered healthier.

World No Tobacco Day

On the last day of May, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been trying to raise awareness of the harmful and addictive nature of tobacco products every year since 1987 through World No Tobacco Day. If you too want to quit smoking and need help or advice, contact your doctor or a smoking cessation specialist.

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