Help available if you want to quit smoking

Date published: 31 May 2019

If you smoke, have you thought about taking the first step towards quitting? Make a plan, think about what you're going to do to stay off tobacco for good, and seek practical support and advice from a free 'stop smoking' service.

Stop smoking services

Stopping smoking is often tough, and different approaches will work for different people. Plan an approach to stopping that is most likely to work for you.

If you've had enough of cigarettes, help is available through smoking cessation programmes and Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

There are more than 650 of these free stop smoking services in pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals, communities and workplaces that can help your quit attempt. They have helped thousands of smokers to set a quit date in the last few years.

If you stop for 28 days or more, you are five time times more likely to stop for good.

Tips and advice

Some helpful tips to keep you on track include:

  • set a specific date on which you want to stop smoking and stick to it
  • let people know so they can support you in your quit attempt
  • try to encourage a group of your friends or family to stop with you and support one another
  • change your routine to avoid situations when you usually smoke
  • if you smoke first thing in the morning, take a shower instead or if you smoke when you are on the phone, hold a pencil and doodle
  • if you smoke on your way to work, make your car smoke-free
  • in the first few days after quitting, drink lots of water and fluids to help flush out the nicotine and other poisons from your body (try to avoid alcohol and coffee, as these tend to increase the desire for a cigarette)
  • don't fall into the trap of having ‘just one’ cigarette – one cigarette can easily lead to another
  • instead of smoking, occupy your hands with a stress or tennis ball, or the 'tangle found in the Public Health Agency's Quit Kit
  • when you feel like smoking a cigarette, try texting or ringing a friend – it will help the craving to pass and take your mind off it
  • avoid eating high-energy, high-sugar snack foods in place of cigarettes - try fresh fruit, a low-fat yogurt or sugar-free gum instead
  • avoid skipping meals or eating sweets, as both cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels which make cravings worse
  • keep active - walk more, go for a swim or a cycle, dance to music at home, do some vacuuming, gardening, or wash the car
  • put the money you're saving on cigarettes away so that you can buy something you really want - it can help motivate you when things are tough

Cancer, heart disease and strokes

Smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, strokes and other diseases, including lung cancer.

If you quit and then relapse, accept it, work out why it happened, and focus on how you can avoid it in future.

It takes several efforts for many people to quit for good but if you are determined, you will do it.

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