Bodymatters – Last gasp

from – January 30, 2011

This Wednesday is national non-smoking day. If you’re still puffing, there’s plenty of support to help you quit.

Acupuncture treatment for giving up the smoking habitYou don’t have to be a genius to understand that smoking is one of the most brainless things a member of 21st century society can do. The reasons against it are inarguable – it kills you, it financially drains you, it ruins your looks and causes you and your clothes to stink. Seven thousand people die of tobacco-related diseases in Ireland every year. Smoking causes 30% of cancers overall and 90% of lung cancers.

If you’re smoking 20 a day, that’s costing you in the region of an incredible €3,000 a year.

But the associated illnesses, expense and being treated like a social pariah still doesn’t deter 29% of the Irish population from smoking. The good news for smokers who want to quit –and an estimated 70% want to do so – is that there’s so much support out there for them. If quitting was a new year’s resolution that fell by the wayside, this Wednesday sees another collective incentive to stub it out because it’s national non-smoking day. “If somebody wants to quit, the key to success is being at the right stage of wanting to quit,” says Norma Cronin of the National Smoker’s Quitline. “We get them to go through the preparation stages and really think about the reasons for quitting – health is usually cited as the first reason and money the second.” Indeed, the recession might give smokers greater motivation to quit than they have in the past. Cronin also points out that it’s not only lung cancer that smokers need to worry about; smoking can also cause cancer of the bladder, pancreas and cervix in women; heart disease and fertility problems. Cronin also says that it’s important to know about the withdrawal symptoms and what to expect. The National Smoker’s Quitline (tel: 1850 201 203) recommend nicotine-replacement therapies (NRT) such as gums, patches or lozenges. Champix is a tablet form of NRT which is prescribed by your GP. Taken over a 12-week period, it increases dopamine levels and blocks nicotine receptors so that you don’t get the usual quick hit from your cigarette. Tests have shown that half of patients prescribed Champix gave up smoking within three months, but its side effects can include nausea, insomnia and headaches.

However, there is no magic cure and that the desire to quit must be there cannot be emphasised enough. While other methods don’t have the proven success rate of NRT, different options work for different people. Here are three to check out.


Acupuncture is said to reduce the physical and emotional cravings for alcohol and it also gives patients a feeling of calm which helps them feel more empowered when faced with the desire for a cigarette. Various body and ear points are treated, and it’s painless, although you may experience a mild, tingling or warm sensation – known to practitioners as

“Acupuncture can get rid of the cravings or reduce the number of cravings but it won’t get rid of the habit. That’s something the person him or herself has to work on,” Maria Maher of Dublin’s Acuwell Clinics in Dublin’s Ranelagh and Pembroke Road explains.

The number of sessions required depends on the person, but Maher usually recommends two treatments in the first week and subsequent weekly sessions. She also recommends that to make the treatment successful overall, you should drink more water, seek the support of friends and eat things like raisins or sticks of celery when cravings strike.

Tel: (01) 415 6186;
Initial consultation and diagnosis €70; follow-up treatments €50