Smoking myth busters

14 March 2018

Dr Abi Jackson is a respiratory consultant working at Spire Harpenden Hospital and answers some common questions and myths about smoking and e-cigarettes. She runs a clinic once a week at Spire on a Tuesday morning where she will investigate people with a persistent cough, unexplained shortness of breath and many other respiratory symptoms. She has extensive experience in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, asthma, pulmonary nodules and lung cancer screening and diagnosis.

Nicotine patches and gum are as bad for me as smoking!

Nicotine patches and gum are ways of replacing the nicotine that you crave in cigarettes. Nicotine is the addictive substance that acts on receptors in your brain to give you a positive effect, and means you always want to have another one. Forms of nicotine replacement are not as bad for you as smoking itself, because they do not contain all of the other carcinogens and toxic substances that tobacco contains. Patches come in different does and are usually changed once a day to give you a background level of nicotine in your blood. They should be used in conjunction with a short acting form of nicotine such as lozenges, inhalators or gum which you can take whenever you have a craving for a cigarette.

Are E-cigarettes a healthy choice?

E-cigarettes are a healthier choice than cigarettes but may still have some long term consequences for your health if you use them for many years. They are another form of nicotine replacement which can be a useful tool to give up smoking. The dose of nicotine in e-cigarettes can be varied and reduced over time to enable you to quit. Long term trials of the potential health effects of E-cigarettes do not currently exist because they are a recent invention. Public Health England promotes the use of e-cigarettes as a tool for giving up smoking.  They should not be used in conjunction with cigarettes.

It’s too late for me to quit!

It is never too late to quit smoking. The health benefits at any age are huge.

Will occasional smoking hurt me?

Even one cigarette will kill all the ‘cilia’ on the surface of your airways. These cilia help your lungs to clear secretions and they can take some weeks to grow back after the last cigarette which is one of the reasons why some smokers claim they feel worse after stopping smoking.

How can I manage cigarette cravings?

You can manage these by using a short acting form of nicotine, trying to have something to occupy your hands or by taking up a new (healthy!) hobby to distract yourself.


The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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