Support for quitting smoking

January is a popular month to quit smoking, so if you are considering quitting smoking there are some helpful tools available from the Cancer Foundation, the Ligue Médico-Sociale, and the Luxembourg Ministry of Health.

Figures from a study carried out for the Cancer Foundation in 2020 show that 26% of Luxembourgers smoke, although only around 17% smoke daily. About half of these smokers want to quit, and studies show that professional support increases your chances of quitting.

Tobacco contains around 70 carcinogens, and a third of cancers are caused by smoking. It can also lead to heart attacks and strokes. There are around 1,000 deaths from smoking each year in Luxembourg.

The Smoking Cessation Health site emphasizes that motivation and willpower are key to quitting, but says there is no one-size-fits-all method to quitting and treatment should be personalized to suit your lifestyle. and the strength of your addiction.

Physical dependence and psychological dependence

The HMC League website says tobacco addiction is both physical and psychological dependence on nicotine based on habits and associations. The Medico-Social League and the Cancer Foundation both encourage you to take the Fagerström test to assess your physical dependence. It asks you how many cigarettes you smoke per day and their nicotine level, if you smoke more in the morning, when you smoke your first cigarette of the day and if you smoke even when you are sick or want to do so in certain situations. . where you can’t like at the movies or on a train.

The Cancer Foundation also offers you to assess your psychological dependence, for example if you need to smoke to relax or think, or if you turn to it out of stress, boredom or anger. These associations may take longer to overcome than pure physical dependence. Do you smoke for a break from work or when drinking coffee or alcohol?

Advice on your website and that of Health is to keep a smoker’s diary before quitting indicating the time, place and your activity when you smoke and the level of craving, to assess whether it is essential or just pleasant. This will help you develop a quitting strategy, which may include temporarily avoiding certain situations that prompt you to smoke, such as being with other smokers or going out to a bar. You can also plan ways to offset cravings, such as drinking water, chewing gum, going for a walk, or calling a good friend.

You can assess your motivation to quit on the Health site using the Demaria-Grimaldi test, which assesses the extent to which you want to quit smoking and whether you are motivated and influenced by your family or your state of health, whether you have ever quit or have a reason to quit smoking. as pregnancy, and if you are at a stable weight. If you’re scoring less than seven points, this might not be the time to stop. Score 13 or more and you have a good chance of success. Anything in between and you should try, but it should be hard.

Plan to quit smoking

As for the real part of giving up, online advice suggests the following:

Remove all ashtrays, cigarettes, tobacco, rolling paper and filters to limit temptations

Photo: Shutterstock

  • Pick a specific date which could be immediate or in a few weeks (make sure it’s not a stressful time in your life)
  • Decide on the drug or nicotine replacement therapy and prepare it
  • List the benefits and tell your friends and family to support you
  • Change your routine and avoid situations or places that will make you smoke
  • Think about divergent strategies to use if you have a craving for a cigarette, such as exercising or taking a shower when you wake up to avoid the urge to smoke the first cigarette in the morning.

Side effects of stopping

The good news is that within 24 hours your body will have eliminated all of the carbon monoxide from smoking, and within 48 hours your sense of taste and smell will improve. Unfortunately, stopping nicotine has side effects, including feeling irritated or restless, trouble sleeping, constipation, increased appetite, and sometimes depression and anxiety.

You can fight this largely through relaxation exercises, eating a healthy diet where you focus on three meals a day (and take the time to eat them), avoiding fats and sugars, keeping snacks low in calories, by eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and by playing sports or simply walking. In some cases, when you experience depression or anxiety, it is advisable to see your doctor as you may need to temporarily take medication for it.

You will also cough, but it gets better the longer you stay away from cigarettes and your lungs clear the debris from smoking.

Where to get help

Consultations are given by the Medico-Social League with the support of specialist doctors, nicoticologists, dieticians and psychologists and you can contact them in Luxembourg-City, Ettelbruck and Dudelange. The sessions are free and your expenses are reimbursed according to the Smoking Cessation Assistance Program managed by the Ministry of Health.

You can also join this program by consult your doctor or specialist if you are insured with the CNS. You will have regular consultations with a doctor of your choice for up to eight months. If necessary, withdrawal drugs or nicotine substitutes will be prescribed. Your medical adviser will have to register a consent form during the first consultation, which will be reimbursed at 100% by the CNS. After the last consultation, you send it with the drug invoices to the Health Directorate for validation and the latter will send it to the CNS for reimbursement. Withdrawal drugs or nicotine substitutes will only be reimbursed at 50% within the limit of € 100 by the CNS.

Nicotine replacement and other medications

To wean yourself off from nicotine addiction, you can try nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum, nasal sprays, and lozenges. These are sold in pharmacies without a prescription, but if you join the smoking cessation program, you will be reimbursed 50% up to € 100 by the CNS.

In some cases, a doctor or specialists may prescribe drugs to stop smoking that affect the nicotine receptors in the brain, such as varenicline (a 12-week course) or bupropion (and an eight-week course). . While these reduce your urge to smoke, they also have side effects such as insomnia and abnormal dreams and tend to be recommended only in certain circumstances when nicotine replacement has not worked (and no. is not available if you are pregnant).

Electronic cigarettes

Although electronic cigarettes are not considered to be an effective way to quit smoking because you don’t break the psychological habit, it is better to “vape” than to smoke. The electronic cigarette vaporizes a liquid that you then inhale, producing an artificial smoke that can be flavored like tobacco, fruit, or candy. It may or may not contain nicotine, but it does not contain tobacco and therefore no carbon monoxide or carcinogenic substances in large quantities. There are no long-term scientific studies, but e-cigarettes probably have a reduced risk compared to tobacco.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and e-coaching

CBT or psychological therapy can help you change your behavior, including the habits you associate with smoking, and give you other ways to deal with stress. You can also download a smartphone app for e-coaching and coaching, often offering free personalized advice once you’ve set your profile.

Alternative therapies

There are also other tactics such as hypnosis, acupuncture, mesotherapy, homeopathy, and mild laser treatment, but these have not been scientifically proven.


Finally, the Cancer Foundation advises all those who have quit or who plan to do so not to fear failure. Even if you don’t get it right the first time, you’ll be much better prepared for the next time. On average, it takes at least four attempts to quit smoking permanently. If you succumb to a cigarette or a night out, treat it as a relapse and continue the next day after evaluating why you gave in and trying to find a solution.

You can find information on mindfulness, relaxation, and yoga to help curb your cravings here.

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About Margaret Shaw

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