Between sixty and seventy years ago, the first reports were released stating smoking could seriously damage one’s health. Even so, it was going to take another decade, and more in-depth reports from medical scientists and doctors before the government, and much of the general public, began to take notice.
Now, after countless other reports, evidence of the harm smoking can do to our health is irrefutable. Initially, it was the link between smoking and lung cancer, but increasing research and medical advances have proven smoking can trigger many other medical conditions. Smokers have a far greater chance of contracting emphysema, bronchitis or COPD, strokes, heart disease, aortic aneurysm, and mouth and throat cancers.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the proportion of the British population who smoke has dropped from a high of around 80% pre-World War II, to less than 15% now, with half of those maintaining they would like to quit. However, saying it is one thing, doing it is something else. As with all addictions, you genuinely have to want to stop, to stand any real chance. Maybe a relative has been diagnosed with a smoking-related disease, you’re concerned about your own deteriorating health, or you’re just tired of setting fire to fifty to eighty pounds a week. Regardless of your reason for quitting, how do you give yourself the best chance of success?
Here are five tips to help you kick the smoking habit:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you live in the UK, several agencies operate specifically to help you kick the smoking habit; for example, the National Health Service (NHS) operates clinics for those wanting to quit. Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), clinical psychologists and psychiatrists meet with groups endeavouring to give up the addiction.
If you don’t want to go the NHS route, consider one of the many online self-help portals set up by ex-smokers, to help others going through what they’ve already been through. Who knows, you may even meet someone with similar interests to yourself, besides giving up smoking.
Smoking cessation medication
With the drive to reduce smoking pretty much worldwide, many country’s health service providers offer smokers a range of stop smoking medications. Smoking addiction is made up of two parts: the addictive part, which is nicotine, and the habit part. Smokers tend to light up after completing certain tasks during their daily activities.
Nicotine liquids, nicotine impregnated patches, tablets, sprays, and nicotine inhalers are all available to help you kill the craving. These can be found online, in pharmacies, or via prescription from your local health centre.
Change your habits
Most smokers have certain times or activities during the day when they automatically reach for a cigarette – without even thinking about it. While your nicotine patches or inhaler may take the edge off the craving, making a conscious effort to change particular habits will help reduce any possible relapses.
If you’re a smoker who reaches for your first of the day immediately after waking, keep a strip of gum or your inhaler by the bed. Then get straight up and use your inhaler before putting the kettle on. If you tend to light up after a meal, try popping in some gum instead while you clear the table and wash the dishes.
Keep focussed with the reason you’re quitting
A great way of reminding yourself why you’re quitting is to save up the money you would have spent on cigarettes. Whether you smoke half a pack or two packs a day, get a biscuit tin (or pint glass) and put in what you used to spend on your habit every day. Just watching that money accumulate, perhaps for your next holiday, will help keep you focussed.
If health worries were the reason you quit, try joining a local walking group, take up jogging, or start visiting the local swimming pool. You’ll be surprised how many people are doing exactly the same as you and will be happy to help keep you on track.
Use an E-cigarette
Since the advent of e-cigarettes, also known as vapes, a few years ago, more people than ever have decided to quit cigarettes in favour of the nicotine vape. They are already proving to be one of the most successful stop-smoking aids to date.
With liquids flavoured from tobacco to fruit, and nicotine levels from high to zero, users can reduce the addictive nicotine levels as quickly or as slowly as they like. With e-cigarettes used exactly the same way as a cigarette, one of the biggest ex-smoking problems – what to do with the hands – has been eliminated.
Giving up any addiction is never easy. There will be setbacks and relapses, but don’t be put off. Make use of the stop smoking medications available. The benefits of finally going smoke-free will make a big difference to your health and social life.