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Smoking Cessation

How Do You Really Stop Smoking for Good?

Posted Thursday 30 March 2017 10:25 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to accomplish. But can a few simple changes make a big difference?

If you vowed to kick the habit in 2017, you’ve made an important decision that could not only improve your health but also prolong your life. Tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer in the UK, with over a quarter of all cancer-related deaths initially caused by smoking.

Although the benefits of living a smoke-free existence can be a huge incentive for most people, actually staying away from cigarettes is easier said than done. All too often a moment of weakness sees people falling back into their old routine.

Spend time in places where smoking isn’t allowed

One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from smoking is to spend time in places where it’s legally not allowed. Whether that means spending your afternoons in cafes, galleries and museums, or simply sitting in the office during the week, finding spaces where you’re not allowed to smoke is a good way of weaning yourself off the habit during the early stages of trying to give up.

This is also true when you’re out for the evening. Think in advance about whether you are likely to find yourself in an environment where people will be smoking or whether you can find a temptation-free bar or restaurant environment.

Avoid food and drink you associate with smoking

Smoking is something people do habitually, and that means there are probably certain things you associate with it. For some people it’s lunch because that’s when they normally go outside for a cigarette, for others it’s coffee because they usually consume the two together. Try to pick up on what little reminders still linger in your life and take steps to separate yourself from those particular cravings.

For many people, alcohol and smoking go hand in hand. This is particularly dangerous, as alcohol alone has been found to cause mouth and liver cancer, and studies show that together alcohol and smoking are much more detrimental to your health than either of them are alone.

Set yourself goals and rewards

Quitting smoking is a big task to undergo. Breaking it down into smaller goals helps make it seem much more achievable and, in many instances, can be more effective in helping you to kick the habit than trying to go cold turkey. At the start of each week, give yourself a point you want to be at by the end of the week. Examples like ‘cut down to five cigarettes a day’ or ‘make one pack last the week’ work well as realistic goals to aim towards.

And don’t forget to reward yourself when you reach your goal, too! Think of the things you like that aren’t related to smoking, and indulge yourself after a job well done.

Use helplines and services

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to, but discussing quitting smoking with family or friends can be uncomfortable. Helplines are there to give you honest help and support so you feel a little bit less alone in your struggle. In 2014, over half a million people managed to quit smoking through NHS Stop Smoking Services. These services are there for a reason, so don’t ignore them.

Get help from Express Pharmacy

Express Pharmacy offer expert advice and approved treatments to help ease your journey to a cigarette-free life. Champix is an effective nicotine-free medication for reducing cravings and relieving feelings of withdrawal. Our simple online ordering system is quick, discreet and safe.

If you’d like to find out more about the medications we prescribe, use our Live Chat service today.

Related Products: Champix

A Guide to Decembeard

Posted Thursday 01 December 2016 14:03 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

decembeardFirst there was Movember, now Decembeard. Yes, it appears that all manner of facial hair is taking on one of the biggest killers – cancer. Raising awareness about the different types of cancer is a vital part of moving society towards both early diagnosis and, we hope, a cure.

As Decembeard is now upon us, we thought we’d explain this next facial hair frenzy, this time raising awareness for bowel cancer, and provide an essential guide to how you can get involved and why it is a cause worth fighting for.

About Decembeard

An initiative launched by Beating Bowel Cancer, a charity that provides practical and emotional help to everyone affected by bowel cancer, Decembeard encourages all who get involved to grow a beard during December to show their support and in turn raise awareness and funds. Bowel cancer is this country’s second largest cancer killer and someone loses their life to the disease every 30 minutes. The lack of awareness around the disease’s signs and symptoms means that unfortunately this statistic isn’t set to get any less shocking, but thanks to Beating Bowel Cancer and Decembeard everyone can do their part in turning this around.

Bowel cancer is diagnosed every 15 minutes in the UK, and if diagnosed at an early stage 9 out of 10 cases can be treated successfully. Growing a beard during Decembeard, or supporting someone who is, ensures that the message about bowel cancer symptoms can be spread further and the funds that are so essential to Beating Bowel Cancer as the UK’s only nurse-led specialist helpline for the disease can be raised.

Spotting bowel cancer

Seeking help or advice from a medical professional as early as possible is the key to treating most forms of cancer successfully, and the same is true with bowel cancer. Many of the symptoms associated with bowel cancer however are often written off as the signs of other, less serious ailments but if the following symptoms do persist for up to three weeks then seeing your GP is important.

Symptoms of bowel cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the anus
  • Blood present in stools
  • Changing bowel habits
  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • A lump in the tummy

Lowering your risk

According to the NHS, approximately 1 in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer. High risk individuals include those over 60 years of age and individuals with a family history of the disease, however diets that are high in red or processed meat, obesity and high alcohol consumption have been linked to the development of bowel cancer. Choosing a diet that is high in fibre and low in red and processed meats, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and increasing physical activity are just some of the ways to lower your risk of bowel cancer.

Smoking is also linked to many cancers, including bowel cancer, so taking steps towards a smoke-free, healthier lifestyle is highly recommended. At Express Pharmacy, we stock stop smoking treatment, Champix, a medication proven to increase the chances of quitting, relieve cravings and reduce the body’s dependency on nicotine.

Get involved

Getting involved in Decembeard couldn’t be easier, and a number of famous faces, including rugby legend Ben Cohen MBE, football legend George Cohen MBE, actor Stephen Mangan, SAS: Who Dares Wins stars Foxy and Ollie, and director Kay Mellor, are leading the way. Sign up to fundraise via the Decembeard website and access countless fundraising ideas, downloadable resources and inspirational real stories.

It's Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month This November. Take This Opportunity to Learn About the Effects, Symptoms and Causes of the Disease

Posted Monday 14 November 2016 21:54 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month has returned this November with its “Turn it Purple” campaign. While raising awareness is a year round mission for charities such as Pancreatic Cancer Action, November is the month when a light is shone firmly on a disease that sees 9,000 new people diagnosed each year, with a remaining life expectancy of just three to six months on average.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at some of the early symptoms that, if caught, could help to save lives, and some of the preventative measures that can be taken to avoid such an aggressive disease.

What is the pancreas and what does it do?

The pancreas is an organ that plays a vital role in breaking down food by releasing enzymes into the small intestine. The 6-inch long organ also produces hormones such as insulin and glucagon, designed to control blood sugar levels and help the body to use and store energy effectively.

There are two main types of malignant tumour responsible for pancreatic cancer. These are exocrine tumours – accounting for an estimated 90% of sufferers – and endocrine tumours.

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease and is particularly difficult to diagnose early because the symptoms can be hard to spot. However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Low mood or depression can be one symptom attributed to pancreatic cancer, as can fatigue and pain during eating. Some of the most common symptoms include indigestion that you can’t get rid of, mid back pain or upper abdominal pain, pale and smelly stools, or painless jaundice.

Causes of pancreatic cancer

While pancreatic cancer can affect almost anyone, it is has been closely linked to ageing, smoking and obesity, as well as a family history of the disease. The most significant risk factor for pancreatic cancer is almost certainly age. From the age of 50 onwards, cases of pancreatic cancer rise sharply, with the average age of sufferers estimated to be 72.

While very little can be done to hold back the effects of ages, the next most common contributing factor can be tackled. Smoking accounts for a third of pancreatic cancer cases and is, in fact, the only confirmed environmental cause of the disease according to research.

To put the risk of smoking into context, a 2006 study looking at the risk of smokers vs non smokers placed the increased risk caused by smoking at 74%. While this is tough news to take for those who have been addicted to smoking for some time, it is important to note that quitting smoking at any point can significantly reduce the risk of dying from pancreatic cancer – and indeed many forms of cancer.

The benefits of kicking the habit increase the longer an individual continues to be smoke free, with some reports suggesting that just 5 years after quitting, the associated risk reduces to the same levels as those who have never smoked.

Of course, smoking is well known for its many risks and there are numerous other diseases and conditions closely linked to tobacco. If you are ready to kick the habit now, Express Pharmacy offers Champix – an effective nicotine-free smoking cessation treatment. Find out more about how Champix can help you kick the habit here.

What’s on This Stoptober

Posted Monday 03 October 2016 13:18 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

Every year, October sees thousands of people sign up to go smoke-free for just one month. For many people, that single month becomes the first of a cigarette-free future.

Thanks to initiatives like Stoptober and a growing awareness of the dangers of smoking, the number of people who smoke regularly is in steady decline. Similarly, the number of young people taking up the habit is decreasing.

If you are looking to kick the habit before the year is out, or want to support someone who is aiming to quit, here’s a guide to what is on this Stoptober.

Sign up online

Participating in Stoptober is as simple as binning the cigarettes for just one month. However, to get the most out of the experience, it’s well worth signing up on the NHS Stoptober website. When you sign up, you can receive daily emails from Stoptober to keep you motivated. Previous participants in Stoptober found this a particularly useful way to get the day off to a good start.

You can also download the Stoptober app, which is available for both Android and iOS users. Through the app, you can track how many days you’ve been smoke-free, calculate how much money you’ve saved and find a distraction to curb your cravings. If all that isn’t enough, you can distract yourself even further with a quick chat with the Stoptober Facebook Messenger bot! It’s also recommended to let your friends and family know that you’re taking part in Stoptober by sharing the event on social media. With your Facebook friends and Twitter followers keeping you accountable, you’re much more likely to persevere with the programme.

Stop smoking services

To help you quit this month, it might be worth paying a visit to your local stop smoking service. This involves completely free, one-to-one support from a trained healthcare professional. They can give you the tools you need to quit smoking for good — research suggests that you’re up to four times more likely to quit smoking with their help than you would be without. 9 out of 10 people who have used NHS stop smoking services would recommend it as an excellent way to quit smoking. You can search online for your local stop smoking service, so why not drop in this October?

Stop smoking medicine

Another way to quit smoking, recommended by the NHS, is by using stop smoking medicines. If you’ve unsuccessfully tried to stop smoking before, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the agonising withdrawal symptoms, which cause many people to pick up a pack of cigarettes again. This is because your body is craving the nicotine in cigarettes.

There are a number of different treatments on the market to replace nicotine, such as patches, lozenges and gum but there are also nicotine-free medications available, such as Champix. A prescription is required for Champix, which can be applied for quickly on our website by using the online consultation form.

For more information on Stoptober events going on in your area, visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou/stoptober/home or to speak to a member of the Express Pharmacy team about the best way to tackle your addiction, try our Live Chat tool.

5 Things You May Notice Once You Stop Smoking for Good

Posted Monday 22 August 2016 20:42 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

quit smokingThe evidence in favour of quitting smoking is now stronger than it ever has been. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that quitting smoking is a bad idea. But we can all agree that it’s a difficult step to take.

Have a read of our list of things you might discover when you finally kick the habit and see if it can motivate you to take that first step.

1.You’ll feel the effects sooner than you think

Surprisingly, the effects of quitting smoking can be felt as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette. In fact, a lot can change in your body in just 72 hours after making the decision to quit. The increased heart rate which comes as a result of the nicotine high will return to normal after 20 minutes, and within a couple of days the nicotine has completely left your body.

The levels of carbon monoxide in the blood reduce by more than half within eight hours and return to zero within two days. This is also when the first wave of withdrawal symptoms begin to hit – but rest assured in the knowledge that the uncomfortable sensations of nausea and a headache mean that your body is getting rid of all the smoke-related toxins.

2.Food will taste better

One side effect of smoking cigarettes is that it can wear down the nerve endings in your nose and mouth, greatly reducing your ability to smell and taste things. However, quitting smoking gives the nerve endings the chance to grow back – meaning you’ll be able to appreciate your food and drink again as soon as two days after your last cigarette.

3.You’ll breathe easier

We all know that smoking hits the lungs hard. Those gruesome photos of blackened smokers’ lungs on cigarette packets leave little to the imagination. But you will be pleased to know that quitting smoking can reverse this process and, in the majority of instances, the damage is not permanent.

Within a couple of weeks, as your blood circulation and heart function improves, you’ll be able to exercise again. Not only does this have myriad benefits for your entire body, it keeps the lungs working to deliver oxygen around the body. Your lung capacity can increase by up to 30% in the first 6 to 9 months after quitting smoking, which will make a huge difference to how you feel. Breathing will become much easier as your overall lung function increases by 10%.

4.You’ll have more spare cash

Quitting smoking will also stop you from burning a hole in your pocket – literally. The NHS estimates that, if the average person smokes 13 cigarettes a day, quitting smoking can leave you £141 better off each month. That’s £1,696 a year! Money has been tight for many of us in recent years, so stopping smoking is a brilliantly simple way to find yourself a lot of extra cash.

5.You’ll feel as if you never smoked at all

You may be shocked to discover that a lot of the damage done by smoking is almost entirely reversible. It takes a long time after quitting, but many of the increased health risks associated with smoking can return to the same levels as in someone who has never smoked in their life. Ten years after you quit smoking, for example, your risk of dying of lung cancer is half that of a regular smoker. Fifteen years after you quit, your risk of getting heart disease is the same as someone who has never smoked at all.

The same can be said for other cardiovascular issues such as arrhythmia. Studies have also suggested that the age at which you quit smoking can play a big part in cutting disease risk, with those who quit smoking before they were 30 having the same mortality risks down the line as someone who had never smoked a single cigarette.

Whilst quitting smoking is no doubt a difficult task, there are a number of aids available to help you quit. From nicotine replacement therapies to hypnotherapy to vaping, going cold turkey to using medications such as Champix, there has never been such an array of options for people keen to kick the habit. If you want to make the change this year – why not get in touch with our experienced quit smoking experts through the Live Chat function on your screen today.