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Quit Smoking

Smoking is bad news for anyone concerned about health, but especially for people with asthma.

Whether it's cigarettes or cannabis, smoking can damage the lungs and make your asthma worse. It's not our place to lecture you about giving up smoking so here are the facts about smoking and asthma (and you can make up your own mind!)

If you smoke and have asthma, you:

  • are increasing your risk of an asthma attack
  • could be permanently damaging your airways
  • could be blocking the benefit of your asthma medicines

Also, if you smoke as a teenager, you're increasing the risk of your asthma persisting. And if you smoke around children or while you're pregnant, you're putting them at risk of developing asthma.

Most people know about many of the dangers of smoking, but nicotine is a highly addictive drug and stopping smoking can be difficult. However, it's not impossible and many people stop smoking every day in  HK.

It's also important to know that most people will attempt to stop smoking several times before they stop for good. This is normal in breaking the cycle of addiction and the most important thing is that you don't stop trying. If you do start smoking again, don't be too disappointed and don't see it as a failure. Use it as an opportunity to see what went wrong with your quitting attempt and to make the next one more successful.

Some helpful tips for stopping smoking:

  • Be prepared - the better prepared you are the more likely you are to succeed
  • Understand your habit - Before you stop try keeping a dairy of when, where and why you smoke. Knowing the situations or triggers that may make you want to light up will help you to plan a different response or to avoid these triggers altogether.
  • Know your reasons for stopping - Make a list of all the reasons why you want to stop smoking. Keep this list with you to remind you if you are tempted to smoke.
  • Set a date - Set a date and stick to it. Stub out your last cigarette; throw away lighters, ashtrays and all cigarettes. Start thinking of yourself as a non-smoker and stay determined.
  • Remember there are people to help. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can support and advise you about stopping. You can also contact the NHS Stop Smoking Service.
  • Smoking is dangerous. It's the greatest cause of ill health and premature death in the HK.
  • Smoking irritates the airways and causes them to narrow, which makes your asthma symptoms (coughing, wheezing, tight chest and shortness of breath) worse.
  • Smoking increases the risk of asthma attacks.
  • Smokers who have asthma are more likely to require higher doses of preventer medicine to control their symptoms.
  • Smoking can cause permanent damage to your lungs and airways.
  • Avoid smoking during pregnancy and ask others not to smoke around you as this is best for mum and baby. Women who smoke in pregnancy are more likely to have smaller babies (not good for baby) and babies with breathing problems.

Quitting isn't easy, but if you have asthma, stopping smoking may be one of the greatest things you can do to improve your life and health.

If you have stopped smoking and your asthma symptoms are getting worse, this is quite common for the first few days or weeks after stopping smoking. Smoking just one cigarette paralyses the normal lung clearance system for up to four hours, so if you've smoked for several years, this filtering system won't have been working properly for a long time. Once you stop smoking the system begins to work again and dredges up all the gunge from the years of smoking. This can take some time to clear, and when you have asthma the debris can irritate your airways, which can make your asthma symptoms worse. The fact that your asthma has got worse at least shows that your lungs are beginning to clear effectively! If you stick with it, your asthma will improve.

If your asthma symptoms have worsened, make an appointment to have your symptoms and asthma treatments reviewed. Sometimes it may be necessary to have a course of oral steroids (prednisolone) or other asthma treatments added on to get your symptoms under control.

Smoking is dangerous for everyone, but particularly for people with asthma. It can irritate the lungs and bring on asthma symptoms.

 Tobacco smoke can:

  • cause permanent damage to the lungs
  • cause asthma symptoms
  • increase the risk of an asthma attack
  • make asthma medicines less effective
  • put children at risk of asthma if you smoke around them or during pregnancy.

We understand that stopping smoking can be difficult, but it is one of the most important things that  you can do to improve your asthma. If you have asthma and live with a smoker, speak to them to see if they can smoke outside instead.

For advice, help and support to stop smoking, call:

1833 183           Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline of the Department of Health

2300 7272         Hospital Authority Quitline

2607 1222         Hotline for Pok Oi Smoking Cessation Service using traditional Chinese medicine

2855 9557         Youth Quitline of the University of Hong Kong

6752 6266         Women Smoking Cessation Service of the University of Hong Kong