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Why should pharmacists help me to stop smoking?

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

What is the difference between structured pharmacist counselling and pharmacist counselling when I buy Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)?

All pharmacists provide counselling when you buy Nicotine products. However, counselling is often brief and limited to education of potential side effects and correct product usage as pharmacists often have to attend to the next customer shortly.

On the other hand, enrolling into a structured smoking cessation counselling programme gives you protected 1-1 time with a pharmacist, who is also a certified quit smoking consultant. He/she will help you to understand your smoker profile and from there, formulate a quit plan. This programme involves six face to face and phone call counselling sessions for 6 weeks, each professionally customised according to your progress.

What additional training do Guardian Pharmacists receive before they can provide structured smoking cessation counselling

Guardian pharmacists conducting structured smoking cessation programme are Certified Quit Smoking Consultant (minimally level 1) by Health Promotion Board. They have undergone relevant training and are equipped with necessary skills and knowledge to provide smoking cessation counselling.

What is the myth or untruth that you would most like to debunk?

Myth 1: NRT is the key to success in my quit journey

It is true that using NRT could help improve success rate of quitting as it is able to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings while you focus on other aspects of your quit journey. While it is beneficial for smokers who are highly nicotine dependent, NRT may not be as useful for habitual or stress smokers if other matters such as finding alternative coping mechanisms to manage stress, ways to break habits and association with cigarettes were not fully addressed. Similarly for social smokers, planning ahead on what to do or say to your smoker friends/ colleagues when faced with social dilemmas is more crucial than the use of NRT itself.

Myth 2: Quitting smoking is all about discipline

Smoking is an addiction. How our brain is wired to manage addictions is complex and this makes addiction very hard to kick. Having discipline is critical but it is not the only factor that contributes to quitting successfully. A successful quit journey also requires sufficient knowledge, thorough preparation and planning, genuine motivation, good support system and often many quit attempts.

Myth 3: Withdrawal symptoms from quitting smoking are debilitating

Withdrawal symptoms can range from occasional cigarette cravings, to throbbing headaches, to irritability. These are positive signs that your body is recovering and usually last for two to four weeks. Not everyone will experience withdrawal symptoms, and at the same intensity. Understanding reasons behind potential withdrawal symptoms and preparing ways to cope prior to your quit journey could help. If you are worried about them, you can also consider gradual reduction of cigarettes or the use of NRT.


This post is brought to you by our Silver Sponsor Guardian Health & Beauty. Feel free to talk to any of our pharmacists about our Start to S.T.O.P. programme.


Do you like this article and wish to find out what more can be done to empower a healthier you?

Our Pharmacy Week 2022 health carnival will be happening live on 24 September 2022 (Saturday). There will be an exciting lineup of health talks, fitness and cooking activities, and interactive booths! This event is FREE and suitable for all ages. Register with us to reserve a slot today!

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