World No Tobacco Day 31 May 2013: Medicinewise ways to kick the habit

29 May 2013 

This World No Tobacco Day, NPS MedicineWise is reminding people that if you want to quit smoking, you don’t have to go it alone: you can talk to your doctor or pharmacist about treatment options.

As part of the 2013 ‘No Tobacco’ campaign, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reiterating its call for a comprehensive global ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. But in the meantime, if you're a smoker, it’s time to free yourself from the habit.

NPS MedicineWise Clinical Advisor, Dr Philippa Binns, says while World No Tobacco Day should get people thinking about the serious risks of smoking, every day is a great day to quit.

“Every year, tobacco kills around 6 million people and almost half of all lifetime smokers will die from diseases caused by smoking, like heart attack, stroke, emphysema, and throat or lung cancer,” says Dr Binns.

“But if that isn't a good enough reason to kick the habit, it’s worth remembering that when you quit smoking you'll feel the health benefits immediately. Within days you'll be breathing and moving around more easily. At one year your chance of having a heart attack is halved and at 10 years your chance of dying of lung cancer is also halved.

“There’s no easy road to freedom from addiction but once you've made the decision to quit, there are many paths to success. Quitting is a very personal challenge; different methods will work for different people and the best option for you might even involve a combination of methods.”

Dr Binns says quitting smoking can be so difficult it may take up to four attempts to actually stop. And while some people have success going cold turkey, others may need to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke each day, or use treatments such as medicines and counseling to finally quit.

“Many smokers choose to quit without medicines but if you smoke more than 10-15 cigarettes per day you may find a medicine useful. In fact, taking a medicine to quit smoking, while also getting support like individual or group counselling, a stop-smoking group or a quit course, has been shown to double your chances of kicking the habit successfully.

“Nicotine replacement therapy – which is available without a prescription as skin patches, chewing gum, lozenges, micro-tabs or inhalers – gives you a steady small dose of nicotine to replace what you previously obtained from cigarettes.

“Alternatively, there are two oral prescription medicines available in certain circumstances under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to help smokers quit.

“And because these products don’t contain the same cancer-causing substances and other dangerous chemicals found in tobacco smoke, they’re much safer than cigarettes. But, as always, there are risks and benefits to these medicines and not all quit-smoking medicines are suitable for all people.

“It is best to speak to your doctor, pharmacist or call the Quitline (137 848 or 131 848) first to find out an approach that’s right for you.”

Information about medicinewise ways to quit smoking is also available at

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).  



Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at 

Media enquiries: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or or Erin Jardine on (02) 8217 8733 or