Stop smoking: support and resources to help you quit

'Quit smoking, cigarette in hands broken in half, isolated on white.'

It is no secret that smoking is bad for your health. It is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, with an estimated 100,000 people dying each year from smoking-related diseases, and affects everything from fertility and sex life to heart and lungs.

Furthermore, the average smoker puffing their way through a pack of 20 each day could be spending as much as £3,000 a year on the habit, not to mention paying up to 50 per cent more than non-smokers for life and medical insurance.

That said, quitting the cigarettes is no easy task, and many smokers find the bad habit creeping back in within a matter of weeks or even days. According to the NHS, research has shown that you're up to four times more likely to stop for good with help, support and stop smoking medicine, so if you're keen to quit but don't know where to start, here are a few tips to help.

Visit your GP
There is a plethora of stop smoking aids on the market, from nicotine gum and lozenges to patches and medication. Unfortunately they don't come cheap. However, your GP will be only too happy to prescribe these kinds of aids at a much cheaper price. For instance, a seven-day supply of nicotine patches will cost you around £12 or upwards in the shops, but a prescription for the same product may give you a six-week supply for just over £8. The same goes for stop smoking medicines such as Champix and Zyban, both of which help to reduce the cravings so that you don't suffer severe withdrawal symptoms.

Go Smokefree
The NHS has dedicated an entire website to those wanting to be Smokefree, and there is plenty to help you through the tough times. Not only will you find information and advice on which type of stop smoking aids might best suit you, there are also specialists on hand to offer advice via phone or online chat, and stories from successful quitters to inspire you. The NHS also runs Stop Smoking Services around the UK, which can offer free expert advice and support on a one-to-one basis, as well as stop smoking medicines on prescription.

Stop smoking apps
If you're determined to quit but struggling to stay smoke free, there's an app for that. For a little positive support, the Quit It Lite app, available for free on iTunes, motivates you with what you haven't done, rather than any slip-ups you may have had. For instance, it will track the cigarettes you didn't smoke, and thereby the money you didn't spend and the tar that didn't rush into your bloodstream. As you continue on the journey, it will also tell you how your health is benefitting based on how long you've been smoke free. On the other hand, the Quit Smoking Android app focuses on a step-down approach that allows you to gradually reduce your consumption. Once again, you'll get plenty of data on everything from money saved to current carbon monoxide levels as you progress.

For support from others trying to cut out the cigs, the QuitNow! app, available free on both iOS and Android, allows you access to other quitters for support, and allows you to share your successes, no matter how small, with friends and family via social media.

Online resources
There are plenty of websites designed specifically to help you through your stop smoking experience. QUIT will provide you with a variety of plans for those crucial first few weeks, which can be used in isolation or together, and there is a helpline if you need a little extra support. Similarly, Quitnet offers personal QuitGuides, full of practical stop smoking resources, tips and suggestions, expert advice from Q-Counselors, email support, online chat and a forum for help and support from other quitters.

So no matter whether you have previously tried and failed, or are trying to stop for the first time, there's no need to go it alone. With a little help and support, you can increase your chances of becoming smoke free for good.

Have you recently managed to stop smoking? What resources helped you to quit? Leave your comments below...
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