Help them, giving it up

Get them thinking about quitting. It can be helpful to your clients to get them thinking about the reasons they should consider quitting smoking – reasons like:

  • living longer and having more time to spend with friends and family
  • being a good role model for their kids, family and community
  • keeping second-hand smoke away from kids
  • saving money

It can also be encouraging to discuss the ways that a client’s body will heal if they do try to give up the smokes. This is how it works:

12 hours…Almost all the nicotine is out of their system
24 hours…The level of carbon monoxide in their blood has dropped
Five days…Most nicotine by-products have gone
Within days…Their sense of taste and smell improves
Within a month…Their blood pressure returns to its normal level and their immune system begins to show signs of recovery
Within two months…Their lungs will no longer be producing extra phlegm caused by smoking
After 12 months…Their increased risk of dying from heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker
After five years…Incidence and progression of lung disease is reduced (including chronic bronchitis and emphysema)
After 10 years…Their risk of lung cancer is less than half that of a continuing smoker and continues to decline (provided the disease is not already present)
After 15 years…Their risk of heart attack and stroke is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked

Helping a Client Quit

When a client comes to you saying they want to give up smokes, they will probably be looking for ideas on how to make their journey easier. People who plan their quit attempt are more successful in giving up smoking than those who don’t.

They can prepare for quitting by:

  • Thinking about why they smoke
  • Thinking about the reasons they want to quit
  • Creating a quitting plan
  • Putting that plan into action

Quitting strategies

Helping your clients find their own strategy is important. Different methods will suit different people. Assist them in choosing a quitting method they feel comfortable with and that suits their situation:

Calling the Quitline 13 78 48

If a client is thinking about quitting, the Quitline is a great resource to direct them to. They can speak with an advisor to find out what kind of further help is available, and can ask to speak to an Aboriginal Councellor if they prefer.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

If you feel Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) using products such as patches or gum may be the best approach to quitting smoking for your client, be sure to talk to them about:

  • Which is the most suitable NRT for them
  • How to use NRT correctly
  • How to use NRT products together

Quitting cold turkey

‘Cold turkey’ is giving up smoking suddenly, without using Nicotine Replacement Therapy. If a client is a light smoker and has only mild withdrawal symptoms when they quit, it’s likely they may not need to use NRT. If they are addicted to nicotine, cravings and mild withdrawal symptoms can still be uncomfortable. When a client decides to quit using this strategy, let them know you are available if they need further support.

Quitting a number of times

Many people attempt to quit a number of times before they stop smoking for good. Help your client think about what brought them back to smoking and how they might deal with this trigger next time. They can also remember what worked well for them and put this into practice during their next attempt.
It helps to remind a client that all previous attempts are good practice – the important thing is to keep trying and get support when they need it.

Coping with cravings

Help your client to understand that they will almost definitely be in a situation that will trigger cravings at some point, and to have a plan ready. The best ways they can be ready for this are:

  • having a plan for managing cravings – for example, the Five Deadly D’s:
  • knowing that cravings often only last a few minutes, and reduce over time
  • understanding what their triggers are (stress, colleagues taking a smoke break, etc.) and avoiding them where possible
    • Delay
    • Deep breathe
    • Drink water
    • Do something else
    • Dial Quitline 13 78 48

To provide a client with some useful tips on coping with cravings, withdrawal symptoms, social situations and stress, take a look at the Quit Now website here:

Smoking when pregnant or breastfeeding

If a client is smoking whilst pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important that you make them aware of the risks.

Smoking during pregnancy can:

  • Make it harder for their baby to get the food and oxygen it needs
  • Cause them to miscarry
  • Cause their baby to be born sick
  • Cause their labour to be more difficult and increase the chance of their baby dying at birth
  • Increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) after their baby is born
  • Make their baby sick throughout its life

Smoking when breastfeeding can pass on poisons entering the body to the baby through breast milk. Continuing breastfeeding is important as it can help protect a baby against illness – if the client is unable to give it up, they should breastfeed their baby just before smoking or using Nicotine Replacement Therapy to cut down the nicotine they pass to their baby.

Remind your client: it’s never too late to quit or cut down on smoking during pregnancy or breastfeeding to improve their health and that of their baby.