Kicking the habit: tips for giving up smoking

Have you considered giving up smoking to take more control of your health? Check out our useful tips to give up smoking, for good.

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Dangers of smoking

Smoking is one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths in England. It accounts for nearly 80,000 deaths each year. Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for non-smokers. Smoking has an impact on your whole body: bones, skin, circulation, brain, heart, lungs, stomach, mouth and throat.

What happens to your body when you stop smoking?

Smoking is a damaging habit that can cause severe complications and even death. As soon as you give up smoking, your body will begin to recover instantly.

The beginning:

Within the first 12 hours without a cigarette, your body will start to cleanse itself of the excess carbon monoxide built up from smoking. Eventually, your carbon monoxide levels will return to normal. This, in turn, increases your body’s oxygen levels. In this short time, physical exercise will begin to feel easier.

Day three:

By the third day of being nicotine-free, your sense of smell and taste will be more heightened, and you may find that you enjoy food more. Your nerve endings will start to recover. This, in turn, heightens your sense of smell and taste.

The nicotine levels in your body will reduce, which may cause nicotine withdrawal. This is a normal process. You may experience headaches, cravings, mood changes, and irritability. These symptoms will not last forever. Keep going and resist the temptation to light up.

A month has passed:

After the first month, your lungs will heal, and your lung capacity will improve. If you’ve smoked for a long time, you may notice that you experience less coughing and shortness of breath.

One year:

After a year of being smoke-free, your risk of coronary heart disease will decrease by half. The risk will continue to drop every year of being smoke-free.

Two years+

After 2 years of not smoking, your arteries and blood vessels should begin to widen again. This means that your blood is less likely to clot and lowers the risk of a stroke. The risk of stroke will continue to reduce over the next 10 years as the body heals more.

Useful quit-smoking tips

There’s no right way to quit. There are several different methods to give up smoking:

Plan when you’re going to quit:

Once you’ve decided to give up smoking, you’re ready to choose a date you wish to stop. Pick a date within the next month and stick to it. If you pick a date too far away, you might change your mind. You can pick a random date to quit, or you might want to do it for a special occasion.

You can take part in this year’s Stoptober:

This is an annual NHS initiative that runs through October to help people quit the habit, for good. This year, they will be running a One You campaign, which offers a personalised plan to help you quit. You can also find support on the Smokefree app. For more information on this, check out their website.

Make a list of reasons to quit:

Before throwing away your cigarettes, it’s important to reflect on the reasons why you want to quit. It may be because of potential health issues or you wish to save a little more money. This keeps you on the right track to achieve your goal and reminds you of why you wanted to quit in the first place.

Nicotine replacement therapy:

NRT is a medication that provides you with low levels of nicotine without other harmful ingredients that are usually found in cigarettes. Examples of these include skin patches, chewing gum, tablets, lozenges, nasal and mouth sprays.

Positive thinking:

Try not to think of giving up as quitting, think of it as gaining and what you’ll achieve when you succeed. Reward yourself with a treat when you get over that craving. Don’t be too hard on yourself if something goes wrong. Take things one day at a time.  

Save money:

Get yourself a savings jar and use it for the money you would spend on purchasing cigarettes. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ve saved, and you’ll be able to buy yourself a treat as a reward.

Exercise: 

Exercise is an excellent way to distract you and keep you busy until the craving passes. Take part in activities that you’ll enjoy such as walking, dancing, biking or swimming.

Make notes:

Note down any strategies you’ve tried, including what was and wasn’t helpful.

It’s never too late to give up smoking, no matter how long you’ve smoked for. Quitting the habit isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of determination. You may find that your first attempt is unsuccessful. Don’t let this stop you. You’ve got this.