With Covid 19 dominating our lives and news in 2020, we remain isolated in our homes away from family and friends wondering what can we do to make a difference and when will we return to normal again.  Perhaps this is the new normal but there are steps we can take to move forward in a positive way.

 Quitting smoking will greatly improve your health outcomes in these uncertain times and have lifelong health benefits.  Coronavirus is known to cause lung complications including pneumonia.  Quitting smoking is a way we can help our bodies fight this virus by giving it the best tool available to combat Covid 19, that tool being healthy lungs.

Once we quit smoking our bodies begin to recover in the following stages:

First 24 hours: Blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.  Oxygen levels in your blood return to normal and carbon monoxide has been eliminated in our body. (Carbon monoxide is the deadly gas that we monitor in our homes with CO2 detectors when burning wood, natural gas or propane to heat our homes). Our lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris by increased coughing which is normal and part of the healing process of quitting smoking.

After 72 hours: There is no nicotine left in our body and our ability to taste and smell is greatly improved.  Breathing becomes easier and our energy level increases. Great time to start exercising (walking, jogging,swimming or riding a bike)

After 3 to 9 months: Circulation improves, cough,wheezing and breathing problems get better as your lung function improves by 10%.

After 1 year: Your heart attack risk reduces by half.

After 10 years: Your risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker. Your risk of heart attack falls to same as someone who has never smoked.

Some of the questions I have encountered from patients over the last 20+ years as a retail pharmacist:

Q: Can I get addicted to the Nicoderm patch/gum/spray products?

A: You certainly can develop a dependence on nicotine replacement products such as Nicoderm and Nicorette. However each cigarette you smoke you are introducing over 4000 chemicals including countless carcinogens into your body via your lungs.  With Nicoderm you are only ingesting the single ingredient of nicotine. Nicotine is the chemical that created that initial dependence in your brain when you started smoking.  The Nicoderm products are simply a safer way to get the nicotine your body is requiring to avoid complete withdrawl. If you have the strength to quit cold turkey than go for it!!

Q: Are Nicoderm products safe with heart disease ( high blood pressure, arrythmia, high cholesterol)?

A: Nicotine does indeed cause increase in blood pressure and heart rate but so do cigarettes.  Nicoderm products should be used cautiously in heart disease but I have one question to ask you? Did you have these same concerns on heart disease the countless years of smoking or are you simply looking for an excuse to not quit smoking!  Once you have decided you are ready to quit, Nicoderm will help your body gradually become less dependant on nicotine until you have completed the Nicoderm program.

Nothing gets me more fired up than chatting about quitting smoking with the exception of making pizza in a wood fired pizza oven.  Perhaps one day we can do both...... I can honestly write about smoking cessation endlessly.

In the meantime check out our nicotine replacement products at www.westendpharmasave.com and click on the chat button to discuss with me your options to quit smoking.

John Stefano

Pharmacist/Owner and part time pizza maker

West End Pharmasave