27 May 2019
David Schmidt has been a Quitline Counsellor for 10 years. Every day, he and eight other counsellors help people to quit smoking. Ahead of this year’s World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, David encourages everyone to try giving up for a day and seeing where it leads.
Quitting can seem like a big commitment. What would you advise as a starting point to someone who’s never considered quitting before?
The most important thing to realise is that you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, from trying quitting for a day. It might just be a major turning point. And with the knowledge that so many people around the country will be doing it with you, there’s no better time than 31 May 2019.
But, like with anything, a plan of attack is going to be your best friend.
Focus on the positives that quitting could do for you. What is most important to you? Some common motivations might be being able to run around and play with the kids, living longer, saving a bit of money or just generally feeling healthier. You might even like to do something to keep this ‘why’ front of mind—like a photo in your wallet, or a new savings account you can access from your phone.
How about for someone who’s tried so many times that they’re starting to think they’ll never be able to give up for good?
The more times you try, the more likely you are to succeed long term. While some people are able to quit on their first try, most people will have a few attempts before they are successful.
And these previous attempts haven’t been in vain; in fact, they’re actually really valuable insights about what worked, what didn’t, and how you can give yourself the best chance of success next time around.
Maybe you did really well for a few weeks, until you encountered a stressful situation at work, or you went out with friends. Perhaps you always try ‘cold turkey’, and any slip-up sends you back to the habit.
There is a right strategy, or combination of strategies, for everyone. And with new quitting products and medications constantly being developed, you’re more likely to find a solution that works for you.
If you’d like more support during certain times, or to discuss the options you haven’t tried yet, call Quitline 13 7848 to arrange a strategy.
Let’s say someone has decided to quit for the day. What can they do to prepare for when a craving strikes?
First of all, well done on making the choice.
When a craving hits, it can feel overwhelming. Instead of searching for a cigarette, it’s helpful to have some strategies that will either distract you or help you overcome it until it passes. And remember, cravings do pass.
Here are a few to have up your sleeve:
- Go for a walk, have a glass of water, or make yourself a healthy snack. Not only does it distract you for a few moments, but it also helps to change the cycle that only a cigarette can end a craving.
- Call Quitline 13 7848. Counsellors are not judgemental, and have helped people who are going through what you’re going through right now.
- Recruit a friend for support. Try sending a message or giving them a call when a craving hits.
- Download My QuitBuddy. This app is your personal progress tracker and can tell you how much you’ve saved and how much tar you‘ve not ingested. It’s also got ‘distraction’ features like games and activities to help you through a craving.
And what happens on 1 June?
Congratulate yourself! The first few days are commonly reported as being the hardest, so know that you’ve done a great job. That also means that it gets easier from here—so why not try extending your one-day trial to a week, or a month?
My top three key takeaways to anyone who wants to quit would be:
- Know that planning makes the most of your motivation, and that’s where Quitline 13 7848 can really help. We can help you work through strategies, methods, and prepare for your own personal triggers and challenges.
- Every attempt is a chance to learn, and there’s no such thing as a ‘failed’ attempt. Whether you’ve never quit before, or tried 100 times, we’ll work with you to discover the best way forward.
- Identify and turn to your support networks; they’re there to help. Do you have friends or close family that can support you? What about people at work or that you know socially, who might have smoked with you? While many people don’t want the pressure of telling everyone that they’re quitting, having a few people on your side can really help. You might also find that your GP can be a great support, as can your Quitline counsellor on 13 7848.
And for those who might not want to quit right now, you might find Quitline useful in the meantime. When you call, it’s on your terms—whether you want information or practical tips, whether you’re ready to quit today or are just starting to think about your future.
This World No Tobacco Day, try quitting for a day. It’s never too late to stop smoking and start reducing your cancer risk.
Quitline Senior Counsellor
Around 90 per cent of lung cancer cases are attributable to smoking, and lung cancer is the largest cancer killer for South Australian men and women. But when you quit today, you’ll notice benefits to your health in as little as 20 minutes. Call Quitline 13 7848 today.