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From The Advice Service
The question I’ve picked out of our postbag this week came from a smoker who has been trying to stop for a long time, and had taken Champix, prescribed by his GP. This hadn’t helped, indeed not only had it not helped but the patient had suffered some fairly worrying psychological side-effects from the drug. His GP, thankfully, had refused to prescribe a second course for him, and his question to us was where he could buy Champix privately.
Our answer was, in short, not to be so stupid. He had clearly failed to understand what he was messing with. Champix is a powerful psychotropic drug. That means its job is to alter the way your brain works. That is not something you do lightly. GPs are aware of the dangers of its use – they are paid to be. They are also very aware of the danger to their careers if they re-prescribe a psychotropic drug for a patient who has already had a psychotic reaction to it. If your GP refuses to re-prescribe such a drug, he is looking after himself, but for once be grateful that he is, because you will benefit from his caution.
No Smoking Day
National No Smoking Day this year fell on Wednesday, and as usual it produced a crop of news stories picked up by editors keen to do something but not really interested in what. I thought it would be entertaining to reproduce a few of them here. (And by the way, I noticed not a few editors, who couldn’t even be bothered to read the press release properly, calling it National Stop Smoking Day.)
The British Medical Association put out a statement that the UK could be entirely free of smoking by 2035. I don’t know what they base this idea on, but I would hazard a guess that they don’t base it on anything, other than someone deciding what date the media might be likely to accept. I do think that the world, at least the western world, will stop smoking at some time, but I don’t imagine for a moment it will be in my lifetime. I’m not going to tell you how old I am, so you will have to be content with the general statement. It is not hard to imagine smoking being an historical relic in, say, a hundred years from now, but not a lot sooner than that. If you can’t imagine no-one smoking, just look back to say the 1970′s, when everyone was smoking, in offices and shops, on public transport, even in GP surgeries and hospitals. A young person would find that as hard to imagine now as we find it to imagine no-one ever smoking. So things change.
Rochdale Online published an intriguing piece about chewing tobacco. I didn’t know this but apparently it is common among certain Asian communities to chew tobacco after a meal, in the belief this aids digestion. It is, of course, highly dangerous, as the toxins in the tobacco are absorbed in a very concentrated form. These are not just swallowed, but because they are absorbed through the lining of the mouth and throat they are likely to cause cancer in these areas with prolonged use.
The Borehamwood Times ran a slightly desperate piece about advice from the local fire service to smokers to not leave cigarettes unattended as this can cause .. wait for it .. yes, fires.
The Norwich Evening News ran a piece which I read but I’m not really sure what it was saying, which just shows how easy it is for a newspaper to fill space totally meaninglessly when required. The gist seems to be that smokers should go to their local pharmacy for help with stopping smoking, so I guess the piece was paid for by them.
The story from Wales Online was that fewer young people are smoking. I would take this idea with a large pinch of salt. In my experience, success stories from the NHS about reductions in smoking are largely guesswork and wishful thinking, and have more to do with keeping their budgets going that much else. Interestingly, the piece finished by stating that a quarter of adults in Wales are ex-smokers. It’s an intriguing figure, although how they could possibly know this is a mystery to me. I imagine it’s much like other government statistics.
I was much interested by a piece in The Press, from York, stating that more than half of North Yorkshire smokers blame a ‘lack of support and motivation to give up’. I find it difficult to connect support with motivation. In any case, smokers can hardly say the NHS / drug company combine doesn’t provide support for stopping – it is after all the business they are in. You could hardly miss the ‘support’ these days, on the Web, in GP surgeries, in the print media. I suspect what some North Yorkshire smokers are saying is that the quality of the support is the problem, not the quantity, and who could argue with that?
Various articles I have seen attempt to gauge the number of people who are likely to try stopping smoking on No Smoking Day, and they come out somewhere between 750,000 and a million. A million would represent one smoker in twelve trying to stop, on one day. Have they any idea how silly that is? Where do they get these numbers from? As far as I can see, they are just that – numbers. They don’t mean anything, and they are not based on any kind of research. They just look good in the media, and people read them, like they read most news stories, not only uncritically but without giving it a moment’s thought, because most of what we read in the media is just stuff, by which I mean it is so unimportant we don’t waste any time or energy thinking about whether it’s likely to be true or not.
In fact I’m told by Robert Brynin, the Research Director of the National Smoking Cessation Institute, that the increase in enquiries they receive from smokers on No Smoking Day is, wait for it … NIL!!
So my last word on this subject is that No Smoking Day concerns the media but singularly fails to interest smokers.
Moving on from that subject, which I think I’ve done to death, I have been asked why, with all the useful information there is on our new website, there is nothing about the evils of smoking. Why is there no information about the harm smoking does, and all the poisons it contains? In other words, why aren’t we trying to persuade people to stop smoking?
It’s quite simple. Stop Smoking UK is not that kind of service. We’re here to give smokers information about what kind of help is available to help them stop, how to choose the right methods for their circumstances, and where to get that help once they’ve pinned it down. That’s quite a big job, although if we felt more needed to be included we would do just that, but we don’t believe the average smoker needs to be told those things. If you smoke, you know precisely why you would better not doing so. Not only do you not need us to tell you all that but we believe if we did go on about it, it might well have the negative effect of turning people away from what we ARE saying. There is enough information about why you should stop smoking, but there is a dearth of good information on how to. Yes, there is a lot about stopping – you can’t avoid it there is so much, but as I have already said in a previous news item, there is far too much timewasting information that serves no purpose. Like the rest of the Web, the stop-smoking field is full of people with something to say, but let’s be honest about this, if all this information amounted to anything more people would be stopping smoking. I’m actually of the view that the sheer volume of information is counterproductive, that smokers read the same tired old information and lose hope.
National Therapist Directory update
We are getting well ranked on the search engines in certain areas – major cities obviously, but it’s a peculiarity of the Web that we get what seems like a disproportionate number of hits from smokers looking for a hypnotherapist in Truro or Rushden, where you would expect more from Manchester or Birmingham. I have no idea why this might be. So the problem we face at present is that we simply don’t have enough therapists asking to be listed in these smaller location. Towns the size of Lewes and Retford, for example, don’t have enough therapists, but at least have some, whereas many smaller places have none at all.
If you are a hypnotherapist who isn’t listed, it’s completely free, so please go to the National Therapist Directory page and click on ‘list your practice’. Even more so, we really want more acupuncturists; we have acupuncturists in York and Walsall and other large towns and cities, but smokers all over the country are recognising what acupuncture has to offer, so if you are a member of the British Acupuncture Council please get yourself listed, and tell your colleagues.