Less and less often young people start with this. With this really absurd thing, hour by minute, chemical cocktails of hundreds of toxic and dozens of carcinogens heat up into your lungs to 950 degrees Celsius:
Between 2001 and 2016 alone, the number of under-18 smokers fell to around seven percent – and thus increased by almost a quarter. The Federal Center for Health Education speaks of a historic dip.
The number of adult smokers has also dropped, although far fewer. According to a 2018 addiction study, almost a quarter still smoke – despite all the warnings from cancer experts and pulmonologists. Even the photos on the packages do not scare you away. Because smoking is still an addiction, albeit legal.
To quit smoking
1. How to plan?
An appointment can help you quit smoking. Reasons such as an upcoming surgery may be an occasion.
2. How to start?
Slow down or stop suddenly? Both are equally effective, according to a new study.
3. How to stay up to date?
Behavioral therapy combined with nicotine replacement products increases long-term smoking cessation success.
Its main active ingredient, nicotine, has long not been approved as a pesticide in the EU. In the human brain, a neurotoxin acts as a messenger substance. It makes you relaxed, contented or excited. On the other hand, cigarettes are responsible for four out of five lung cancer cases.
Tobacco consumption is the cause of over 90 percent of all COPD diseases and kills more than 100,000 people each year as a result of its long-term effects. According to a scientific analysis by The Lancet, smoking was a major risk factor for premature mortality and loss of healthy life years due to disability in 2016.
In addition, smokers have an unpleasant smell and shortness of breath. The skin turns gray and wounds heal worse because blood circulation is disturbed. However, if you manage to quit smoking, you will feel the effects almost immediately.
Talking to your doctor, behavioral therapy, and alternatives
But what’s the best way to do this? Very few smokers who try without assistance succeed. “Out of a hundred people who quit on New Year’s Eve, 95 to 97 people will smoke again in a year,” says Dr. Thomas Hering from Berlin, lung specialist and smoking cessation specialist of the Federal Association of Pneumologists.
Conversely, patients who discuss their plans with their doctor at least double the long-term chance of success. One behavioral therapy at a tobacco clinic, he has a 30 percent chance of becoming a non-smoker. Cost: up to 300 euros.
“Those who want to quit smoking and take adjuvants with the active ingredient varenicline, or those that replace nicotine, do so 50 percent of the time,” says Hering (see box at right). However, these drugs are not suitable for everyone due to possible side effects.
It’s also easier to quit, according to a 2019 review study, if you choose replacement products with a higher dose of nicotine or combine two products like nicotine patches and fast-acting chewing gum. There is also some evidence that it may be helpful to start nicotine replacement before you quit smoking.
A question of cost
But quitting smoking becomes more expensive with medications. Until now, health insurance companies in Germany only subsidize behavioral therapy, drugs are excluded from the reimbursement.
Hering and other experts criticize this, for example Professor Stefan Andreas from the specialist lung clinic in Immenhausen: “Instead of paying for effective and cheap measures, we must then carry out the most expensive clinical treatments if smoking has harmed our health. “
Thomas Hering advises smokers with limited financial resources to save money to help quit smoking in small installments or to undergo therapy.
Not everything is clear for e-cigarettes
According to current knowledge, e-cigarette vapor is more harmless than cigarette smoke. But German heart, lung and cancer specialists agree that too little is known about the long-term consequences to be clear.
Fast results: the body recovers so quickly after tobacco
No smoke on New Year’s Day – that’s how quitting smoking works
Current research even suggests that nicotine may also be carcinogenic, writes the German Society of Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine in a paper. Switching to e-cigarettes is also not recommended as they are not suitable for quitting smoking.
Rather, experts call for stricter regulation of vaporization products. Thanks to their variety of flavors and advertisements, they especially encourage young people to eat what is allegedly harmless. And with success: fewer and fewer young people in Germany smoke tobacco. But the number of young people with e-cigarettes is increasing.