Dr Clare Morrison

Article by Dr Clare Morrison

Top Five Tips For Quitting Smoking

Giving up the cigarettes is never easy. For many people it’s a lifelong struggle – and some people never manage it. However, it’s all about persistence and really really wanting to quit – if you have enough will power, in the end you should reach your goal. And it’s a very worthwhile one – not only does giving up smoking help you breathe more easily, being smoke-free also gives you more energy, reduces stress, improves fertility, skin, smell and taste.

Along the way, everyone can do with a helping hand. So here are five practical tips to help you quit the cigs for good…

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1. Stick to a plan

We are all creatures of habit. And let’s face it – smoking is a habit – albeit a very unhealthy one. And it’s easy to justify sticking to habits: “Just one more to help me feel less stressed”; “I’ve been good all week, just one won’t harm anyone!”

Unfortunately, our oh-too-human tendency to defend our weaknesses can leave us stuck in negative patterns that last years, often lifetimes. However, one way to combat this is to plan our lives around forming new habits. So set a rule and stick to it. For example, if you decide that “I won’t have even one drag of a cigarette no matter how much I crave it” you will likely ride out the cravings. Think ahead to difficult situations you could be in, such as a party, and plan your escape routes in advance.

2. Regularly remind yourself of the benefits of quitting

There are many benefits to giving up smoking – no matter how old you are. In fact, the older you are, the more you’ll benefit from quitting smoking. This is because your lung capacity decreases with age, and by giving up smoking you can improve capacity by up to 10 percent in just nine months. As you get older, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active old age, or wheezing when you simply get up from the chair.

As well as this, giving up smoking can help your appearance. Cigarettes not only stain your teeth; but they also ruin your skin. Stopping smoking has been found to delay facial ageing and the appearance of wrinkles. The skin of a non-smoker, receives more oxygen and nutrients. Contrary to popular opinion – that there’s no point in smoking as you get older because the damage is done – it’s never too late to stop, and doing so can also reverse damage to the skin.

3. Seek support

You’re never alone when it comes to stopping smoking; some studies show that almost 70 percent of adults who smoke want to quit. And there are all sorts of tools that can help you – from joining a Stop Smoking Service, to taking medication that can help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, to downloading a free Smokefree app for mobile support.

There’s also Champix, a stop smoking treatment based on a plant extract. Champix can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms that occur when you give up smoking, as well as block the effect of nicotine.

4. Exercise

There’s nothing like exercise to remind you of the benefits of having smoke-free lungs. Take a brisk walk, go for a run or play some team sports – you’ll almost immediately feel the advantages if you don’t smoke. And if you are tempted to nip out for a quick ciggie, just remind yourself of how clean your lungs are and how much you enjoy being able to exercise without having to regularly stop to wheeze…

5. Keep busy

It’s crucial to keep yourself busy to avoid readopting bad habits. We tend to slip back into old tendencies when we are bored, or going through stressful situations. It’s important to remember not to do this and to remain present and conscious of our situations. Being productive and positive in our daily lives can help, it’s just important to stay mindful while doing so.

Giving up smoking will allow you to live a healthier, wealthier (literally) and happier life. Good luck!

Contact the MedExpress team for more advice on how to give up smoking.

Dr Clare Morrison
Dr Clare Morrison
Experienced General Practitioner in Hampshire since 1995, with particular interest in Nutrition, Obesity and Smoking Cessation.
Originally published March 13 2019, updated March 09 2020