17 November 2018

Seven tips to quit smoking

4 min read



Smoking is not only bad for your health but costly, too. Here are some tips to help you stop smoking for good.

The effects of smoking are well known. It’s an activity that increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke and of developing lung, head and neck, stomach and kidney cancers. It also adversely affects fertility and bone density and causes premature ageing.

Smoking facts are startling: it causes 84 per cent of deaths from lung cancer and 83 per cent of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the NHS. Smoking increases your risk of having a stroke – which can cause brain damage and death – by at least 50 per cent. Yet within two years of stopping smoking, your risk of stroke is reduced to half that of a smoker and within five years it will be the same as a non-smoker.*

No wonder so many people want to stop smoking, whether they try nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, apps or willpower. Melody Holt, of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, believes the secret to quitting is to be positive. “Believe you can do it,” she says. “Look at things from a different angle. Think to yourself, you’re not giving something up – you are choosing to no longer do something.”

She suggests that you don’t try to stop smoking alone. “Make use of support from friends and family. Think about sharing with your friends, parents or carers that you have quit or will be quitting – and ask those who do still smoke not to smoke by you or even offer you a cigarette.”

*All stats taken from https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree

Here are seven ways to quit:

1. Change your routine

If the first thing you do in the morning is switch on the kettle and have a cigarette why not change your routine and drink juice instead of tea or coffee? Eat your breakfast first, get washed, dressed and do some exercise.

2. Try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

All of the commercially available forms of NRT (gum, transdermal patch, nasal spray, inhaler and sublingual tablets/lozenges) can help people increase their chances of successfully stopping smoking, according to an independent Cochrane Review in 2012. NRTs increase the rate of quitting by 50-70 per cent, regardless of setting.

3. Make a contract with yourself

Write down the day you intend to give up smoking and sign and date it or download the Quit Date Worksheet from the British Heart Foundation. The day before you stop, remind friends and family and ask for support. Throw away all smoking paraphernalia.

4. Think about the health benefits

Within 20 minutes of stopping, your blood pressure and pulse rate can return to normal. Circulation improves in hands and feet, making them warmer. Forty-eight hours after stopping, your body is becoming free of nicotine and your senses of taste and smell are improving. Think of how you could take up more exercise if your body was in better health - running, swimming and cycling might become easier.

5. Group support

Use your local stop smoking service, go along to a group and have a test for the toxic chemical carbon monoxide which is found in cigarettes and reduces the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. Monitoring this as it falls to non-smoker levels can be really inspiring. By receiving extra help and support you are four times more likely to stay stopped for good, says Holt.

6. Never give up giving up!

If you start again, don’t worry. You haven’t failed. Think of all the cigarettes that you haven’t smoked! It takes most people a number of attempts before they go completely smoke free for good. You have now improved your chances of success for next time.

7. Try an app

The NHS Smokefree app can help you stop smoking by giving daily support and motivation. If you stay smoke free for the 4-week programme the NHS says you are up to five times more likely to quit for good. The Cigbreak Free app uses gaming to distract smokers and incorporates a combination of 37 behavioural change techniques – theory-based methods for changing behaviour – selected by Queen Mary University of London health psychologists to help smokers quit. 

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