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Smoking and Tobacco

Trying to Quit Smoking Black and Milds

02/02/2010

Question:

First off I’m a relatively late bloomer when it comes to smoking; I started at the age of 21 in college. I know that smoking isn’t safe, I know that if I continue that it will eventually kill me. I’ve been smoking Black and Mild cigars for 8 years and at 29 I’m now officially hooked. I wanted to know if nicotine gum will help me quit?

I now smoke up to a pack a day and I wanted to since I inhale so much nicotine, do I need to get something stronger than just gum? I’ve tried cold turkey, buy my willpower has failed me time and time again. Now that I’m almost 30, I want to start this new era of my life on a healthier note. What are some good over the counter things that I can do to quit smoking without having a prescription? Thanks in advance for your help.

Answer:

First, congratulations on taking this first step toward getting control of your life and making the most important health decision you can make. Half of folks who continue to smoke will die from smoking, losing about a decade from their life due to cancer, heart disease or emphysema, not to mention increased impotency, wrinkles, hearing loss, baldness, depression and irritability.

1. Your best bet is to set a firm quit date. You can cut down leading to that date, but cutting down without a firm stop is a worthless exercise.

2. Once you've set that date, call federally sponsored 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) and get lined up with a free counselor who can help you work through a personalized strategy. Keep in mind that quitting without help leads to relapse in about 95% of people. Nicotine ranks right up there with crack cocaine in terms of addictiveness; so don't be a prideful fool about getting all the help you can.

3. Then tell everyone that matters to you, including those folks you smoke with, that you are going to stop. If you have someone important in your life who really wants you to quit, make him or her a solemn promise that this is it. Similarly invoke your higher power if you have one.

In terms of non-prescription aids, you should consider the nicotine patch that will give you round the clock coverage for your cravings. Most experts recommend at least 8 weeks of therapy. Longer appears better. Don't shortchange yourself. You may carefully supplement that with nicotine gum when you have an acute craving. These will help, but keep in mind that smoking delivers a much higher burst of nicotine that is delivered by patch or gum. You'll still need a careful plan to deal with cravings. Also keep in mind that the first week smoke-free is the toughest and the most important. People who make it for an entire week without a smoke are ten times more likely to remain clean than those who cheat - even once. Be especially careful about alcohol that week, as it tends to weaken resolve.

Please also consider an appointment with your doctor. Not only can he or she monitor and support you, but also a physician can offer you two prescription drugs, bupropion (Zyban or Wellbutrin) and varenicline (Chantix) that work even better than the patch or gum.

Finally, a note about Black and Milds (aka Black and Dead): my experience is that many folks who smoke B/M tend to mix their tobacco with weed (marijuana). Nicotine and the active drug in marijuana, THC, seem to act synergistically in promoting dependence on both. If this may apply to you, you might want to examine both drugs and their effect on your attitude, your relationships and your life in general.

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Response by:

Rob  Crane, MD Rob Crane, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University