According to CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa), a strong motivator to quit smoking is thinking about why you should make the considerable effort to stop.

CANSA offers some compelling reasons to quit, followed by tips to help smokers to stop smoking.

Reasons to quit.

  • Tobacco-related diseases kill over 42 000 South Africans annually.  
  • Smoking increases the risk of over 20 types of cancer.
  • Second-hand smoke to people around smokers can increase their risk of lung cancer.
  • Smoking during pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke are both linked to miscarriages, low birth weights and stillbirths.
  • Smoking accounts for one in five cases of TB (Tuberculosis) and second-hand smoke can trigger inactive TB infections.  
  • Smokers with HIV have three times the chance of getting TB compared to non-smokers.

Tips when quitting.

  • Fix a date to quit smoking and do it.
  • Prepare for it by reducing smoking in the run up to Quit Day.
  • Get rid of reminders of smoking (e.g. cigarette packets, ashtrays, lighters).
  • Drink lots of water – it will help flush the nicotine from your body.
  • Become more active – exercise i.e. walk, jog.
  • Change your routine. Avoid smokers and things that make you want to smoke for the first couple of days.
  • Tell your family and friends that you are trying to quit so that they can offer you support.
  • You may experience some dizziness, headaches or coughing once you have stopped smoking. This is normal  and should improve after a day or two and can disappear within 14 days.
  • The first 2 to 3 days are the most difficult, after that it gets easier. Your cravings will reduce and eventually disappear.
  • If you are worried about gaining weight, eat at regular times during the day. Snack on fruit between meals. Take time for exercise. Not all ex-smokers gain weight.

Do not use a crisis or special occasion as an excuse for “just one” cigarette. One cigarette leads to another and another.  

Apart from going ‘cold turkey’, there are nicotine replacement products such as patches, medication, sprays or chewing gum among and other medications to help you to quit. A discussion with your pharmacist or GP can help you to find a solution.

Although some people substitute tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes, a study by Harvard University found that e-cigarettes typically contain nicotine and other toxic substances that are harmful to both users and those exposed to the secondhand vapours.

UPD’s Ryan Conybeare, head of business development for the Link Pharmacy Group says:

“Giving up smoking must rank highly as one of the most difficult challenges but the reasons to quit are  compelling. You may not have succeeded the first time around or even at the second attempt, but take hope  from the days, weeks or even months that you went smoke-free, and be encouraged by the fact that you can do  it. You don’t have to go through it alone – your GP and our Link pharmacists are there to help you. Talk to them”.


While all reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this article, information may change or become dated, as new developments occur. The Link group shall not be held liable or accountable for the accuracy, completeness or correctness of any information for any purpose.