A lot of people in China smoke. And as you’ve probably seen in the bars and outside cafe’s a large number of expats in China also smoke. But how does this affect your medical insurance?
Being a smoker can impact your insurance in a number of ways. Firstly and most importantly you’re more likely to use your insurance due to the increased risk of getting common colds and also due to potential lung diseases.
Secondly when applying for insurance, if you smoke more than 14 cigarettes a day most insurance companies will either increase your premium rate or will even reject your application.
Your chances of having an application rejected are even higher if you also have a family history of lung cancer or if you combine smoking with other pre-existing conditions.
If I start smoking will this affect my insurance cover?
If you already have medical insurance and start smoking you’re not obliged to inform your insurance company and this shouldn’t affect your coverage or your insurance premiums.
Can I Get Cheaper Insurance if I Quit Smoking?
If your current insurance already has an increased price due to declaring yourself as a smoker when you first purchased the insurance, then if you quit for over 6 months you can apply on renewal to have the increased insurance premiums reduced.
If you want help quitting, keep reading and check out the useful tips below for quitting smoking in China.
Expat Guide on How to Quit Smoking in China
According to the World Health Organization, about 1.1 billion people around the world are smokers, and 80% of them live in the developing world. China is not only the biggest producer of cigarettes, but they are also the biggest consumer of the product – a report from 2002 found that about 300 million people in the country were current smokers. Cigarettes are quite cheap in China and are becoming even more affordable, which is contributing to the rise in smoking rates in the country, even among expats in China.
Even though the smoking epidemic started earlier in Western countries, the health risks of smoking in China seem to be similar. Smoking is the leading cause of disability, decreased productivity, and even premature death. What does this mean for the country? Well, research has shown that more than half of adult males in China are frequent smokers and estimates suggest that up to half of present-day male smokers in China have a high likelihood of dying from smoking-related illnesses by 2030 if they don’t give up this bad habit.
Tips for Quitting Smoking
If you’ve made the decision to quit smoking, it’s important to remember it won’t happen in a single day, it’s something that you have to be constantly conscious about to be successful in the long run. The good news is that quitting smoking has some great benefits – most notably, you’ll find that your overall health improves, as does the health of those around you. Additionally, quitting smoking improves your quality of life and prolongs your lifespan.
Expats in China face the same challenges as anyone trying to quit smoking. In order to be successful, you’ll need to do various things to quit smoking, including changing behavior, coping with withdrawal symptoms, and developing strategies to manage mood swings. However, with effective strategies in place, you can manage nicotine addiction and kick this bad habit.
Below we’ll outline 5 ways to help expats in China quit smoking.
1. Set a Quit Date
Once you make up your mind to quit smoking, the first thing you should do is set a quit date – keep the date relatively close, but give yourself enough time to mentally prepare. Choose a quitting method that suits your lifestyle. You can quit in one of two ways:
- Abruptly: Keep smoking up to your quit date, and then kick the habit completely.
- Gradually: Decrease your smoking frequency bit by bit until your quit date arrives and then quit.
Research has shown that both methods are effective, so pick the method that you feel is going to work best for you.
As you approach your quit date, there are things that can help you prepare, including:
- Let friends and family know your intention to quit smoking, and if they’re smokers, ask them to stay away from you when they are smoking
- Dispose of all ashtrays and cigarettes (out of sight, out of mind!)
- Decide if you’re going to use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medications to help curb your nicotine cravings
- Sign up for a smoking cessation support group
- Surround yourself with a support system – such as friends or family members that have successfully quit smoking and are willing to help you kick the habit
Everyday routines such as waking up in the morning and having a coffee, or going out for drinks after work with friends can often trigger a nicotine craving. In order to be successful at quitting smoking, you need to avoid triggers, so you’ll likely have to change up your routine and activities a bit, and keep yourself busy. This may include such things as:
- Reduce alcohol intake or avoid it altogether
- Avoid people or situations that may increase your urge to smoke
- Engage in activities such as walking or running to distract yourself
2. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Whether you realize it or not, you may have been smoking as a strategy to help you deal with stress in your life. Unfortunately, quitting smoking can be stressful, which may trigger a craving. Learning effective coping strategies can help to minimize stress and reduce your cravings. It may take a little time to figure out what works for you, but some relaxation techniques that you may find useful include deep breathing, meditation, visualization, yoga, or listening to your favorite music.
3. Engage in Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity is a great way to distract your mind and minimize the intensity of your nicotine cravings. Even brief episodes of physical activity such as climbing up and down the stairs a couple of times while at work can help curb nicotine cravings. If you aren’t able to engage in physical activity, there are other activities you can try to distract yourself such as journaling, knitting, mind games, or even chores around your office or home.
4. Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
There are various options of NRT available, some of which may be covered by your health insurance in China. Common NRT options include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges
- Prescription nicotine (i.e. inhalers and nasal sprays)
- Prescription non-nicotine smoking cessation medicines (i.e. varenicline and bupropion)
Short-acting NRTs such as nicotine lozenges, gums, inhalers or nasal sprays can help you deal with strong nicotine cravings. When used in combination with long-acting nicotine patches, or smoking cessation medications, these short-acting treatments are effective and generally safe.
While E-cigarettes have been gaining popularity among individuals looking to quit smoking, more research is needed to establish their safety and effectiveness for smoking cessation.
5. Find Behavioral Support
After your quit day, fighting nicotine cravings can be difficult due to your emotional and physical dependence on smoking. To deal with your dependence, you should consider seeking out counseling services or support services; additionally, you can read self-help materials. Research has shown that behavioral support, combined with NRT medication such as varenicline and bupropion, can improve the odds of long-term smoking cessation by 25%. The costs associated with these services can be high, however, many are covered by quality health insurance in China.
Expats in China looking to quit smoking face similar challenges to those looking to quit in other countries. If you’ve decided it’s time to quit smoking, it’s important to evaluate all of the smoking cessation options available and develop a plan to quit smoking that suits your lifestyle. Using a combination of the strategies outlined in this article will improve your chances of successfully kicking this bad habit for good.
Trends in Smoking and Quitting in China (1993-2003) https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/10/09-064709/en/
Five Ways to Quit Smoking https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319460.php
Quitting Smoking: 10 Ways to Resist Tobacco Cravings https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/nicotine-craving/art-20045454