With the ever-tightening of smoking laws in Singapore, it seems as if the government is planning to be smoke-free within the next couple of years, possibly even this year. Take, for example, the recently-announced ban on the import and sales of shisha tobacco, and the ever-increasing tax applied to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Take this, lump it with thousands of your New Year’s resolutions, and we are looking at a huge increase of people attempting to “butt out” for good. Can we get a high five for health? No? OK.
If one of your resolutions for 2015 is to quit smoking, you’ll be well aware that the road ahead is a long and tough one, but the benefits are endless.
A huge factor is the amount of money you can save. As of early January 2015, the average price of a pack of 20 cigarettes in Singapore is $12. If you smoke only two packs a week, quitting cigarettes will save you around $1,248. Combine this with the fact that the life insurance premiums smokers pay will be 75 percent to 100 percent higher than non-smokers, and it’s easy to see that quitting could save you a large chunk of cash year on year.
And while saving money is awesome, the real benefit is to your health. According to the Singapore Cancer Society, “about seven Singaporeans die prematurely from smoking-related diseases each day. Smoking-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – also known as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD), are Singapore’s top killers.” Simply put, quitting will reduce the chances of catching these diseases.
How to give up smoking this year
Ask anyone who has quit before, and they will tell you it’s one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Why? Largely because of the nicotine found in all tobacco. When inhaled, nicotine provides a powerful feel-good high which your body quickly comes to depend on. Cutting this out will cause you to go into withdrawal, which will amplify cravings. Beyond that, for many, smoking is a deeply ingrained part of our daily schedule.
Before you start:
- Make a plan: Sure, some people will have success quitting cold turkey, but the majority of us will do much better with a plan. The best plans for quitting include both short-term goals detailing how you will quit, and long-term plans looking at what you will do to prevent a relapse. Be sure to take the time to tailor a plan to your needs that addresses your current habit and overall goals.
- Talk to your health-care provider in Singapore: Before you actually quit, we strongly recommend making an appointment with your doctor. Because you will be treating an addiction, there may be things you need to keep in mind relating to your overall health. Beyond that, they may be able to prescribe medicine that will help with the withdrawal symptoms, plus advise on whether other medicine you are taking could affect the overall potency of any anti-smoking medication.
- Identify your triggers: Finally, identify the things you do and the situations you encounter that will make you want to smoke. This includes specific situations, times, feelings, and even people. Try writing these triggers down (even combining them with a craving journal) in order to make quitting easier.
When you are ready, set a date and crack on with your plan. Once you begin, here are five things you can do to help follow through:
- It would be a good idea to tell the smokers in your life that you have quit and to try refrain from smoking around you. It will also help to toss all tobacco products like cigarettes, pipes, rolling papers, etc. If they are not in sight, you will be less inclined to give into your cravings.
- Learn how to identify and cope with common withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms will often be noticed as early as one day after quitting and can last several weeks or longer. Some of these symptoms will be easy to recognise and ignore. Others are more problematic – like fatigue or insomnia. Chat with the doctor to help you identify and deal with these trickier ones.
- Certain things like alcohol and other smokers will increase your cravings. Avoiding these triggers and confronting your cravings will be important, if you want to truly quit. Many experts recommend that you try to distract yourself or remove the temptation when you feel a craving coming on.
- While it’s not for everyone, things like over the counter medication, hypnotherapy, nicotine replacement therapy, and even acupuncture could help make quitting easier. Just be sure to consult a physician before trying any of these.
- Unfortunately, the potential for a relapse once you have quit is fairly high for many smokers. While this may be disheartening, you should not give up because of it. If you do relapse, try to turn why you did so into a lesson and learn from it. Above all else, try again, and keep trying!
If you have made it your resolution to quit this year, be sure to contact your health insurance provider once your plan is underway. By talking to a provider like Pacific Prime here in Singapore, you can realise the insurance benefits more quickly, and discover new plans and top-up offerings that can help ensure you are covered throughout the year. To learn more about your insurance options after you have kicked the habit, jump inside the link and chat to Pacific Prime.