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Quitting smoking finally works
According to experts, smoking is the greatest avoidable health risk. However, many people cannot stay away from cigarettes. Those who want to quit smoking can also do some little tricks.
Smoking is known to be a significant health risk and the leading cause of premature mortality. Tobacco consumption favors lung, cancer and cardiovascular diseases, among other things. Smoking could also increase the risk of coronavirus infection, as recently reported. So it is worth stopping smoking. Experts explain what helps.
Biggest avoidable health risk
Smoking is the biggest preventable health risk, so the health benefits of stopping smoking are huge. This applies to all ages and regardless of previous history.
And yet it is difficult for many to stop - because cigarettes and the like are addictive. The nerve poison nicotine is responsible for this.
"Smoking is, so to speak, a matter of the head," says Wolfgang Behrens, chairman of the non-smoking association Berlin-Brandenburg.
Persistence and little tricks
If you don't manage to quit smoking the first time, you shouldn't despair.
"If you want to quit smoking, you have to deal with your smoking behavior and train your brain," explains the expert. It's about outsmarting yourself and breaking habits.
Studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly successful in smoking cessation.
"Even with medication, psychological dependency cannot be compensated for," explains Prof. Dr. Rainer Thomasius, psychiatrist at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) and medical director of the German Center for Addiction Issues of Childhood and Adolescence (DZSKJ).
There is no guarantee
"Successful programs are characterized by the fact that they are carried out by well-qualified course leaders and do not advertise with a guarantee of success," says Michaela Goecke, Head of the Addiction Prevention Unit at the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA).
The experts recommend the so-called final point method: a fixed day is chosen from which smoking is no longer permitted. The mental preparation for this day is crucial.
In the event of a strong physical dependence on nicotine, replacement therapy can help in addition to behavioral therapy - it initially reduces physical withdrawal symptoms.
Medications are only a second choice
There are also drugs to stop smoking, mostly with the active ingredients bupropion and varenicline. Both are pharmacy and prescription only - and for many professionals only a second choice, among other things because of the high side effects.
And what about the many other offers? There is hypnosis, acupuncture, breathing exercises or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). However, Thomasius advises against it: The effectiveness of the methods has not been scientifically proven.
Healthy eating and enough exercise
"The smoking cessation is a very individual matter," says BZgA expert Goecke. "There is no suitable method for every smoker."
The Federal Center itself supports those wishing to quit with a broad program: behavioral therapy group courses, free telephone advice or the online behavior change program “Rauchfrei”.
“Computer- and internet-based exit programs are relatively new in smoking cessation,” says Thomasius. "But it has now been proven that the use can be successful."
Many smokers are afraid that their weight will skyrocket after the last cigarette. And there is actually a connection, says Goecke: "The metabolic change after quitting smoking can lead to a slight increase in weight."
Therefore, it is important to pay attention to healthy eating and enough exercise. Both are recommended anyway.
Positive effects predominate
"The positive effects of stopping smoking come quickly and outweigh any negative effects, such as weight gain," says Behrens. The blood pressure drops, the pulse reaches a normal beat rate, the temperature on the hands and feet normalizes. Quitting smoking is always a health benefit - extra kilos or not. (ad; source: dpa / tmn)