Tips to help you quit smoking

Maya Driver

There was a time when kicking the habit meant a lonely bout of cold turkey. These days things are very different. The government is determined to reduce the massive burden that smoking related illness places on the NHS. This means there are now a range of treatments and support networks available to help you quit. So if you want to stop what should you do?

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It's vital to make sure you are mentally ready to give up. You have to consider how you will cope in certain situations where you may be tempted and have a plan in place to cope when the cravings start. It's recommended you speak with your GP as a starting point; they will be able to recommend an appropriate program for you. Alternatively, try one of the trained experts on the NHS helpline. You may be advised to join a local group session before you start going smoke free. Meeting the group will help you to prepare to give up and provide encouragement when you start.

Your GP may try you on tablets if medically appropriate. The two most commonly prescribed are Zyban and Champix. Zyban changes how your body reacts to nicotine. You take the tablet one or two weeks before quitting and then for a couple of months after. It should help quell cravings and see you through those difficult early days. This treatment is only available through prescription.

Champix works by reducing the craving for cigarettes and easing the effects if you smoke. Tablets are taken one or two weeks before quitting and the treatment lasts twelve weeks in all. This treatment is only available through prescription. There are a number of over the counter treatments available like gum, patches, microtabs, lozenges, inhalators and sprays. All of these can help, you just need to decide which one will suit you most.

Top Tips

Write down why you want to quit and keep the list with you. Set a date and stick to it. People who cut down gradually tend to smoke more of each cigarette so nicotine levels remain the same.

Tell friends and family you are stopping. You will get support and smokers will leave you alone.

Prepare for withdrawal symptoms. They peak after 12-24 hours and gradually ease within a month.

Monitor situations where you may weaken. Avoid drinking alcohol in the first few weeks and cut down on tea and coffee. Try fruit juice and water.

Keep a diary or mark days off a calendar after all, you won't want to undo all that hard work.

Look at the positives. You will smell better, feel better and taste your food more. You will also have more money. You may put on a little weight as your taste returns but just try to stick to a healthy diet and avoid fatty or sugary foods.

Should you fail, examine what caused this to happen. You will be better prepared next time. Most people who successfully quit have tried three or four times before.