Debunking myths about smoking and getting help to kick the habit.
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Myth: Smoking is relaxing and improves the mood.
Fact: Each cigarette contains one milligram of nicotine. When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine-rich blood reaches the brain in seven to 10 seconds, stimulating the nervous system and hormones (mainly dopamine which produces feelings of pleasure and reward). Smoking also increases the heart rate and causes the arteries to narrow, raising the risk of lung and heart disease.
Myth: “Hand-rolled” cigarettes are safer options.
Fact: Many smokers believe “roll-yourown” cigarettes are less harmful than manufactured ones. But studies have found the levels of chemicals and toxic molecules in urine samples of smokers of both factory-made and “handmade” cigarettes to be the same.
Myth: If I stop smoking, I will gain weight.
Fact: Some smokers gain about 10–20kg when they quit. After quitting, many people regain their sense of taste and smell, which improves their appetites. Smoking can suppress the appetite, and also speeds up metabolism. After quitting, a healthy diet including more vegetables and low-calorie food is important. Regular exercise is also helpful to avoid weight gain.
Myth: “Light” cigarettes are less harmful.
Fact: “Light” cigarettes are as harmful as “regular” ones because these terms have no standard definitions. Some tobacco companies use them to refer to the taste or flavour of their cigarettes rather than nicotine content. As for cigarettes with ventilated filters to help reduce the amount of inhaled tar and nicotine, smokers often unconsciously compensate for the lower levels by inhaling more deeply or by smoking more sticks.
Help is at hand
Nicotine is highly addictive, and quitting takes strong determination. Few people are able to stop smoking on their own, and a programme that addresses various aspects of the habit is necessary for a smoker to quit successfully. At
Singapore General Hospital (SGH ), three pharmacists help run a Smoking Cessation Service for both patients and non-patients. Smokers interested in the quit smoking programme can approach any pharmacist at the SGH Pharmacy (Block 4, Level 1). They can also call the SGH appointments line at 6321-4377 to make an appointment.
The Health Promotion Board and community pharmacies also provide information and help in stopping smoking. For more information on the Health Promotion Board’s I Quit programme, call the QuitLine at 1800-438-2000 or visit