Do You Want to Quit Smoking?
This month marks the annual Stoptober campaign, where participants commit to not smoking for the month of October. The popular campaign was created off the basis that those that are able to quit smoking for 28 days are 5 times more likely to quit overall. Since its launch in 2012, it has grown in popularity and has been supported by numerous organisations, both local and national, including the NHS, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
According to the ONS, there were 6.9 million UK adult smokers in 2019; this represents a 0.6% reduction in numbers since the previous year. More than half of the current smokers in Great Britain have stated that they want to quit smoking. But the reality is that it’s not always easy.
So, if you are trying to quit, or are considering quitting, we’ve put together some advice and inspiration to hopefully help you on your journey.
Benefits of Stopping Smoking
Due to the range of effects that smoking has on the body, quitting can drastically improve almost every aspect of an ex-smoker’s health. Heart rate lowers because as the arteries widen, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack; the stomach lining becomes stronger, cutting the likelihood of ulcers; and the lungs clear, lessening the chances of emphysema and cancer.
Aside from these, everyday benefits include eliminating coughing, clearer skin, fewer wrinkles, fresh breath, healthy teeth and gums, and even a better sense of taste.
In fact, the NHS calculates that after one year of not smoking, the benefits are already significant; major health risks are reduced by half. And after 15 years, the baseline health is similar to someone who has never smoked.
Stop Smoking Timeline
How To Stop Smoking
If you’ve decided to quit, the next step is of course actually quitting. Cigarettes contain over 5000 chemicals, including nicotine which has been considered as addictive as heroin. These chemicals can cause smokers to develop a physical dependency on the cigarettes. This alongside nicotine’s ability to act as a stimulant, increases the habit and makes it much harder to stop.
Many people believe that the best way to quit is just stop cold turkey, and try to do so without any support. This does work for some, but studies show that this method is only successful for 1% of those that try it. Because of this, organisations such as the NHS have put together a number of useful resources and services to help those that want to stop.
It’s never too late to quit, and it’s never a bad idea to ask for help.
- Make a note of the reasons you want to quit
- Let those around you know that you are quitting
- If you’ve tried to quit before, remind yourself of what you did that worked
- Make use of stop smoking aids
- Put a plan in place to follow if/when you’re tempted to smoke again
- Make a note of what your smoking triggers are, so you can avoid them
- Keep busy to reduce cravings
- Stay active and exercise often
- Join the Smokefree Quit Smoking Support Group
You can fill out this short quiz provided by the NHS, to receive a personalised plan to help you quit.
Throw away whatever cigarettes you have left, and get started.
Stop Smoking Services & Treatments
It’s important to be aware that what has worked for someone else, may not work for you. It’s completely down to you; your preferences, lifestyle, age, etc.
More than ever, with the increase in and availability of smoking-cessation products, the pharmacy could be a smoker’s first port of call for quitting.
Given the range of services, there’s likely to be something for everyone. As well as traditional NRT such as patches, gum, lozenges and sprays, ‘vape pens’ and ‘e-cigarettes’ have seen a surge in popularity. The NHS also offers free stop-smoking services including one-on-one treatment, with success shown to be four times more likely with support.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine addiction is the main cause for people smoking, and struggling to stop. NRT provides you with nicotine, without the harmful substances that come with cigarettes. The purpose of this is to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms you can experience when you stop smoking.
Like NRT, varenicline can reduce cravings, but it also prevents you from experiencing the reinforcing effects of smoking. This medication is considered the most effective one in helping people quit smoking.
Bupropion is medication that is considered to help people quit by affecting the part of the brain that influences addictive behavior.
E-cigarettes are essentially just cigarettes in electronic form. You inhale the nicotine through vapour as opposed to smoke. This eliminates the presence of tar and carbon monoxide.
The help is out there if you want it or need it. Speak to your doctor, pharmacist, friends and/or family.
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