In just over a week’s time, on March 9th, the UK will be marking our national No Smoking Day.
Although smoking is becoming less prevalant in the UK, one in six adults still smoke and it is remains a leading cause of death and disease in our country. In England, nearly a fifth of deaths in those aged 35 and over are smoking-related and smoking related illnesses cost the NHS £2.7 billion a year. The wider costs to the economy, due to sick leave and loss of productivity are around £2.5 billion.
Although two thirds of smokers would like to give up, only 30-40% attempt to kick the habit in any given year. Perhaps it’s your year to give it a go?! Or perhaps you know a smoker who would appreciate some support to go smoke free?
The NHS give the following advice to those who would like to give up smoking:
1. Think positive
You might have given up before, but tell yourself that you’re really going to do it this time.
2. Make a plan to quit smoking
Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Don’t be put off by a wedding, party or other time when you’d normally smoke.
3. Change your diet
Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead.
4. Change your drink
The same study looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find that simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice), affects their need to reach for a cigarette.
5. Identify when you crave cigarettes
A craving can last five minutes. Before you give up, make a list of five-minute strategies. For example, you could leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.
6. Get some quitting support
If friends or family members want to give up too, suggest to them that you give up together. Also, there are your local NHS stop smoking services and the NHS Smoking Helpline, available on 0300 123 1044 (open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am-4pm).
7. Get moving
A review of scientific studies has proved that exercise (even a five-minute walk or stretch) cuts cravings and may help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals.
8. Make non-smoking friends
When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers. “When you look at the smokers, don’t envy them,” says Louise, 52, an ex-smoker. “Think of what they’re doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke.”
9. Keep your hands and mouth busy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can make you twice as likely to succeed. As well as patches, there are tiny tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. If you like holding a cigarette, use an inhalator. Try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.
10. Make a list of reasons to quit
Keep reminding yourself why you gave up. Make a list of the reasons and read it when you need support. Ex-smoker Chris, 28, says: “I used to take a picture of my baby daughter with me when I went out. If I was tempted, I’d look at that.”
All the best!
Any advice or information in this blog is general advice only. It does not take into account your personal circumstances: please do not take action based solely on this information.