with Zoë Siskos, Coordinator of Communications, Canadian Cancer Society Smokers’ Helpline
What tips or resources can help an individual who is trying to butt out?
Quitting smoking is not easy for most people and like most things in life it takes preparation, skills and practice. It is important to take the time to develop the skills needed to remain smoke-free. Some tips to get started…
- Know why you smoke
- Practice quitting before the final quit date
- Know what side-effects and changes to expect
- Learn how to deal with cravings
- Have a plan if you slip and have a cigarette
We also encourage people to use the resources available through the Canadian Cancer Society Smokers’ Helpline, which is a free, confidential service offering support and information about quitting smoking and tobacco use. People can call the toll-free number, 1-877-513-5333, join the online community or register for text message support through our website, www.SmokersHelpline.ca.
Many are also using social media to find support and are connecting with other quitters and former smokers through our Facebook page and Twitter account (just search for Smokers’ Helpline).
There is never one concrete way to quit smoking, as it’s a different experience for each person. We do know that using a variety of methods will help to increase the chance success of being smoke-free for good, so we encourage exploring multiple resources.
What are the main reasons for picking up the habit again? How can these be overcome?
Smoking is an addiction and may take several attempts before someone is smoke-free for good. Everyone is different so every situation is different. For some, it may be their social circle that triggered them to smoke, for others it may be a stressful event in their life. Understanding that staying smoke-free for any length of time is an accomplishment is a good way to overcome this.
It’s also important to learn from the slip up. What was the trigger? Why did you start smoking again? Next time around you will be better equipped to deal with the temptation. It takes skill, self-control and motivation.
We have known the effects of smoking for a long time now. How has smoking prevention and cessation changed in the last 20 years?
Many people are aware of the harmful effects of smoking and want to quit – 62% of Ontarians want to quit smoking within the next six months. This means that cessation methods such as nagging, begging or pestering aren’t successful ways of getting someone to be smoke-free.
Anyone connecting with Smokers’ Helpline will be met with a friendly, welcoming tone and will be given tools and advice in a completely supportive and non-judgmental environment.
In addition, the Canadian Cancer Society publishes a set of quit smoking guides called One Step at a Time. Part of the process used to design this program was to ask smokers about their concerns and to have ex-smokers and medical experts give advice on how to deal with these concerns. It’s a much more collaborative and supportive environment than most smokers are likely used to.
Smoking rates are declining in Ontario. In 1965, about 50% of the population smoked. In 1999, 23% and currently, 15%. We can attribute this decline in smoking rates, in part, to an increase in awareness of health effects of smoking as well as the protection, prevention, cessation and de-normalization efforts employed by initiatives such as the Smoke-Free Ontario strategy, which funds Smokers’ Helpline and The Driven to Quit Challenge.