Stop smoking: stop now!

Finally smoke-free - Those who manage to get rid of the cigarette benefit in many ways. But getting out is not always easy. What will help you to quit smoking

Now it's over: If you want to quit smoking, you can set a fixed date. Everyone can decide for themselves whether to wean themselves step by step or to stop tobacco consumption abruptly. But then it is time to stay tuned

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It is increasingly rare for young people to start doing it at all. With this really absurd thing to pull yourself into your lungs with chemical cocktails heated up to 950 degrees Celsius every hour to minute:

From 2001 to 2016 alone, the number of tobacco cigarette smokers under the age of 18 fell to around seven percent - and has thus almost been quartered. The Federal Center for Health Education speaks of an all-time low.

Deadly addiction

The number of adults smoking also fell, albeit significantly less. According to the 2018 addiction survey, almost a quarter are still smoking - despite all warnings from cancer experts and pulmonologists. Even the pictures on the packs don't put you off. Because smoking is still an addiction, albeit a legal one.

To quit smoking

1. How to plan?

A fixed appointment can help with quitting. Reasons such as an upcoming surgery can be an occasion.

2. How to start

Reduce slowly or stop abruptly? According to a new study, both are equally successful.

3. How do you stay tuned?

Behavioral therapy combined with nicotine replacement products increases the success of quitting in the long term.


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Its main active ingredient, nicotine, is no longer approved as a pesticide in the EU. The neurotoxin acts like a messenger substance in the human brain. It makes you relaxed, satisfied or excited. On the other hand, cigarettes are responsible for four out of five cases of lung cancer.

Tobacco consumption is the cause of more than 90 percent of all COPD diseases and causes well over 100,000 people to die of its long-term effects every year. According to a scientific analysis in The Lancet, smoking was the main risk factor for premature mortality and the loss of healthy years of life due to disability worldwide in 2016.

In addition: Anyone who smokes smells unpleasant and becomes short of breath. The skin turns gray and wounds heal more poorly because the blood circulation is impaired. However, if you manage to give up the cigarette, you will feel the effects from now on.

Conversation with the doctor, behavior therapy and alternatives

But what's the best way to do it? Few of those smokers who try without help make it. "For every hundred people who quit on New Year's Eve, 95 to 97 will smoke again in a year," says Dr. Thomas Hering from Berlin, pulmonologist and tobacco cessation officer of the Federal Association of Pulmonologists.

Smoking cessation: help from the pharmacy

  • Nicotine replacement preparations are available as chewing gum, plasters, lozenges and sprays, among other things. They alleviate withdrawal symptoms and make weaning easier. The funds are freely available and have to be paid for yourself.
  • Prescription tablets with the active ingredient varenicline reduce withdrawal symptoms, but can cause side effects.
  • What is possible for whom and for how long should always be discussed with the doctor or pharmacist. The dose is very important, especially with nicotine replacement preparations. It depends on how heavily you smoke.

Patients, on the other hand, who discuss their plans with the doctor, at least double the long-term chances of success. Behavioral therapy in a tobacco clinic leads to a 30 percent probability of non-smokers. Cost: up to 300 euros.

"Those who wish to quit who take supportive drugs with the active ingredient varenicline or those used to replace nicotine manage it in 50 percent of the cases," says Hering (see box on the right). However, these remedies are not suitable for everyone because of possible side effects.

According to an overview study from 2019, it is also easier to get rid of the cigarette if you choose substitute products with a higher nicotine dose or combine two remedies: for example, nicotine patches and fast-acting chewing gum. There are also indications that it could be helpful to start nicotine replacement before you quit smoking.

More breath: it comes on pretty quickly without cigarettes

© Getty Images / Georgijevic / E +

A question of cost

But smoking cessation becomes more expensive with medication. So far, health insurance companies in Germany have only subsidized behavior therapy; drugs are excluded from reimbursement.

Hering and other experts criticize this, for example Professor Stefan Andreas from the Immenhausen Lung Clinic: "Instead of paying for effective and cheap measures, we later have to carry out the most expensive hospital treatments when smoking has caused health damage."

Thomas Hering advises smokers with limited financial means to save the amount for the smoking cessation aid in small installments or to have the therapy given to them.

No all-clear for e-cigarettes

As far as we know today, the vapor from an e-cigarette is more harmless than cigarette smoke. But German heart specialists, pulmonologists and cancer experts agree that long-term consequences are still far too little known to give the all-clear.

Quick success: the body recovers from tobacco so quickly

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A few days

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Few weeks

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A month

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A year

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A few years


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Smoke-free into the New Year - this is how it works with quitting

Current studies even suggest that nicotine can also be carcinogenic, writes the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine in a position paper. Switching to the e-cigarette is also not recommended because it is not very suitable as a means of smoking cessation.

Rather, the experts are calling for stricter regulation of evaporation products. With a variety of flavors and advertising, these encourage young people in particular to take on supposedly harmless consumption. And it does so successfully: Fewer and fewer young people in Germany are smoking tobacco. But the number of young people who vape e-cigarettes is increasing.