Robert’s story: Realising it’s okay to see a doctor about quitting smoking

It’s been one of those guilty pleasures that has been done in secret.” Robert keeps a pack of cigarettes hidden behind the back door, which he calls ‘party cigarettes’, ready to break out at the right moment. His guilty pleasure. Most people don’t know that Robert smokes: he doesn’t smoke in front of his colleagues, and there are even some members of his family that don’t know. Because, to him, “there is a stigma attached to it”, and he’s embarrassed that he started smoking and that he still smokes now.

So, at 52 years old, Robert has decided that now is the time to start planning for a healthier life. But after 30 years of smoking and multiple quit attempts, he needs a bit of help to get on his way.

Robert is not really a ‘doctor sort of person’ so he hasn’t been to his GP to get help quitting before. He is worried about wasting their time and feels that he should be smart enough to quit smoking without the help of a GP.

Robert isn’t alone in this. Australian men of all ages visit their GP less frequently than women.1 And even when they do go, their consultations are shorter, and they have usually left it until their illness is in the later stages.2 There are some theories as to why men are so reluctant to see their GP. Some may be time poor to keep their medical appointments during typical working hours2. Others may believe that Aussie men should be tough and seeing the GP can be seen as a sign of weakness2. Unfortunately, this means that some men take less care of their health than women and are more likely to get sick from serious health problems2 .

That’s why it’s time for a change. Men’s health is important, and seeing a doctor about quitting smoking is not a sign of weakness, and it certainly isn’t a waste of your GP’s time. In the words of Dr Hester Wilson, GP and Addiction Expert, “it's what we do and we understand that smoking is a serious health issue that is difficult and tricky for people to change. So, from our point of view, this is not time wasting”.

So, even if you’re like Robert and not really a doctor sort of person, it’s definitely worth having a quit chat with your GP to help you put your health first and quit smoking. Remember, you’re 4x more likely to quit with the help of a healthcare professional compared to quitting unaided.3

©Pfizer 2019. Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Sydney, Australia. PP-CHM-AUS-1024,11/2019
References
  1. Bayram, C., Valenti, L. and Britt, H. (2016). General practice encounters with men. Australian family physician45(4), p.171.
  2. Better Health Channel. Men’s health. Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mens-health. Accessed 25 November 2019.
  3. West R. (2012). Stop smoking services: Increased chances of quitting. NCSCT Briefing #8. London; National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training.