Stop smoking – how it works!

Stop smoking - how it works!

Twenty-five per cent of smokers in Germany want to quit smoking but often fail and reach for the “fake stick” again. Smoking is the most important preventable cause of a large number of diseases. Smoking and health are closely related: every cigarette shortens a smoker’s life expectancy by five and a half minutes. Heavy smokers lose up to 12 years of life. Regular smoking is both psychologically and physically addictive.

Good reasons to quit smoking

There are many reasons to quit smoking. In addition to the financial aspects, health is usually the focus of the decision:

  • Cigarette abstinence improves your quality of life and your health well-being even after decades of constant tobacco consumption.
  • Damage to the vascular system normalizes even after long-term smoking.


What happens in the body after quitting smoking?

How your body reacts to not smoking:

  • After just 20 minutes, the blood circulation in the hands and feet improves.
  • After 8 hours, your blood can transport more oxygen again.
  • After about 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste will improve.
  • Within a year, circulation and respiration stabilize again.
  • After about five years, the risk of suffering a heart attack is almost as high as that of a non-smoker.
  • After ten years without cigarettes, the risk of lung cancer is just as high as that of a non-smoker.

Nicotine abstinence as a learning process

Nicotine abstinence is a learning process that can be divided into three phases:

  1. decision phase
  2. quit phase
  3. stabilization phase


  1. Make a decision

The following questions will help you here:

  • Do you have a firm intention to quit smoking?
  • What reasons can you give for not wanting to smoke anymore?

The more voluntary and convinced your decision is, the more promising the further course is. The will to work together and change behaviour is the absolute prerequisite for lasting success. Everything starts in the mind!

 2. Quit smoking

Two methods are available:

  • With the closing point method, people stop smoking after a specific date. This method is particularly successful when there is good motivation for quitting smoking.
  • The reduction method slowly reduces the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Quitting smoking this way is more complex than using the final point method because it makes it harder to learn new behaviours.

No matter which method you prefer, you need a firm will to persevere, and you have to become active yourself.

Nicotine replacement products as supporting agents

Various medications are available to help in the form of nicotine patches, nicotine gum or tablets. These replace the nicotine that you would otherwise “smoke”. On the other hand, harmful substances are eliminated. The withdrawal symptoms are significantly alleviated.

The combination of self-monitoring and medication has proven particularly promising in practice.

  • Nicotine patch:  A nicotine patch is suitable for smokers with regular daily consumption. Smoking cessation takes place through the continuous release of nicotine from the attached patch. This reduces withdrawal symptoms. The patches are switched to a lower dosage after 8-12 weeks, and the nicotine intake is gradually reduced.
  • Nicotine chewing gum:  For “fluctuating” smokers or smokers who smoke in certain situations, chewing gum offers an alternative. Chewing gum is chewed every hour or as needed. After about four weeks, the number should be reduced daily until it can be wholly dispensed.
  • Tablets:  In the meantime, some tablets can be taken to support prospective non-smokers’ efforts. Unlike patches and chewing gum, the drug does not contain nicotine.

It is essential to clarify with the doctor whether treatment with nicotine-containing medication is an option. However, the following applies: With consistent use, the chances of becoming a non-smoker double. Nicotine replacement products without a prescription are available from your pharmacy.


 3. Stabilization phase

This phase is often underestimated because now it is a matter of stabilizing success and not relapsing again. The new behaviour must be integrated into everyday life, leading to a “new” life without cigarettes.

Here’s how to get over this hurdle:

  • Address emerging issues arising from the new no-smoking situation. For example, agree on smoking zones or smoking times at work.
  • Make known in your area what has been achieved so far; this also contributes to stabilising the new status.
  • Reward yourself for your success because you have achieved something.

Nine tips on how to “make it” better

  1. Choose a date when you will be relaxed, for example, on vacation or at the weekend.
  2. Remove your ashtray in the car.
  3. Inform friends, acquaintances and relatives about your project.
  4. I bet you will successfully quit smoking.
  5. Choose more cigarettes that you don’t like.
  6. Remove “hidden reserves”.
  7. Put away your smoking paraphernalia.
  8. Ban smoking in your home.
  9. Leave the ashtray unemptied in the office. The “beautiful” sight may resent your appetite for cigarettes.

However, the long-term success of all measures is linked to one requirement: a firm will!

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