Stopping + October = Stoptober. The Stoptober campaign was first established in 2012 to encourage people to stop smoking following research that found that an individual is five times more likely to quit smoking for good if they make it to 28 days smoke-free. The campaign is estimated to have encouraged over 2.3 million people to attempt to quit so far.
Looking at the numbers
According to the NHS, the benefits of quitting smoking can be broken down into different amounts of time, as follows:
- After 20 minutes – pulse rate returns to normal
- After eight hours – carbon monoxide levels in the blood will reduce by half
- After 48 hours – all carbon monoxide is flushed out of the blood, sense of taste and smell start to improve
- After 72 hours – bronchial tubes start to relax, energy increases
- After two to 12 weeks – circulation starts to improve
- After three to nine months – lung function increases by up to 10 per cent
- After one year – risk of heart attack will have halved compared to a smokers
- After 10 years – risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared with a smokers.
How to stop
There are many resources available to help individuals try to quit as well as the standard nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). Pharmacy teams can recommend that customers try the NHS Quit Smoking app which allows them to get support and track their progress as well as see how much money they’re saving.
Customers can also obtain a free personal quit plan by answering three questions via: nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/personal-quit-plan or find their local stop smoking service: nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/find-your-local-stop-smoking-service.
Pharmacy teams can also offer patients these quitting tips:
- List your reasons to quit
- Tell people you’re quitting
- If you have tried to quit before, remember what worked
- Use stop smoking aids
- Have a plan if you are tempted to smoke
- List your smoking triggers and how to avoid them
- Keep cravings at bay by keeping busy
- Exercise away the urge
- Join the Facebook group for support and advice.
NRT is the most common smoking cessation tool, providing an individual with a dose of nicotine without any of the harmful chemicals, helping to reduce any withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting smoking.
There are a range of NRT products on offer including patches, nasal and mouth sprays, inhalers, gum, lozenges and microtabs. The NHS recommends that smokers use a combination of therapies to get the best results. For example, a nicotine patch works by releasing nicotine slowly into the blood system to maintain levels whilst a spray or gum helps to deal with immediate cravings.
Dosage levels of NRT can be reduced slowly and it is recommended that they are used for about 12 weeks or as long as a patient needs.
National Back Care Week : 3-7 October
The first full week of October is National Back Care Week, a campaign run by charity BackCare who have been educating people on how to prevent and relieve back pain since 1968.
Some 80 per cent of people in the UK will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, according to the NHS. Each year the campaign aims to bring awareness to this by focusing on a different area or cause such as working from home or back pain in nursing.
BackCare has a range of resources that pharmacy teams can recommend to customers including practical exercises workers can undertake as well as a variety of lifestyle tips. Pharmacy teams can also recommend that customers:
- Keep moving – keeping moderately active as much as possible is thought to help the back recover quickly
- Stretch it out – simple back exercises and stretches can often help reduce back pain
- Use hot and cold packs – something cold like an ice pack could help any swelling whilst a hot compress can help relax tight muscles
- Take painkillers – these help to ease discomfort so individuals can move more freely.
World Mental Health Day: 10 October
Falling annually on 10 October, World Mental Health Day, aims to drive positive change across the globe. This year, the theme is ‘mental health is a universal human right’ focusing on the idea that everyone deserves to feel good mentally.
To mark the day, UK charity, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), recommends that family, friends or colleagues come together and host a ‘Tea & Talk’ session. This works as an opportunity for people to come together and talk (it doesn’t have to be about mental health!). It’s also a chance to fundraise for the charity. For ideas on how to do this visit: mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved/events-and-fundraising/do-your-own-fundraising/tea-talk/tea-talk-resources.
Pharmacy teams can also advertise the day in store or online by downloading resources.