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How To Quit Smoking

Apr 05, 2022 Stop Smoking

 

How To Quit Smoking

Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking!

If you are reading this article, chances are you are considering it, or you have already decided to make a fresh start and are well on your way to becoming smoke-free. 

Quitting smoking is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and it may be challenging at first, but millions of people have done it, and so can you!

The decision to stop smoking is very difficult. Most people stop smoking and start again a number of times before they give up for good.

There is a lot of support to help people to give up smoking. People have to want to quit in order for any stop smoking method to work.   

Willpower and determination help people to stop smoking. Some people choose to go cold turkey where they give up smoking without any chemical help. Others find it easier with support groups and nicotine replacement products. 

Keep reading below for some facts about quitting smoking and to find out your options for kicking the habit.

Why Is Smoking So Addictive?

Cigarettes contain nicotine which is a very addictive substance. 

Nicotine in small doses is a stimulant that makes you feel good, increases your heart rate, and improves concentration and memory.  

Larger doses have a relaxing effect which encourages smokers to inhale more intensely to achieve a greater effect. 

Giving up smoking is the same as giving up any type of addictive drug because your body craves the effects of nicotine. 

Stopping any type of addictive drug results in withdrawal symptoms, which make giving up even harder. 

Once you overcome these symptoms, you eventually stop smoking and are able to live a happier, healthier life. You, your family, relatives and friends will benefit from it if you decide to quit smoking.

Few people realise that it takes the body no more than three days to get rid of nicotine. Smoking is more than just nicotine addiction though. It is chemically and behaviourally addictive, and that is why it is almost impossible for so many people to quit.

The Effect Of Nicotine On The Brain

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that reacts with receptors in the brain, increasing the production of neurotransmitters.  

This results in the production of dopamine which is a feel-good chemical. It also stimulates the production of serotonin, which lifts moods and noradrenaline, which creates stress hormones (Source: Neurochem). 

Eventually, the brain gets used to the nicotine levels and requires more to have the same effects. This is why people start their habit of five cigarettes a day and end up smoking twenty after a while. 

Nicotine, in extremely large quantities, is harmful but the small amount from a single cigarette is unlikely to be. 

However, all of the other chemicals in cigarettes are extremely harmful and lead to death, so smoking is not a safe way to have nicotine.  

Any type of addictive drug has negative consequences, so it is a good idea to find ways to give up your smoking habit.

When you stop smoking, your brain continues to crave nicotine. You may also find it more difficult to deal with stress because you have nothing to do with your hands and mouth. 

History Of Smoking

Humans have been smoking tobacco in one form or another since 5000 BC, so it is understandable that it is a hard habit to break. 

Smoking originated in the Americas and was a pastime enjoyed by native Indian tribes - they actually smoked hallucinogenic drugs as well. 

Europeans didn’t get introduced to tobacco until the 16th century. Ironically it was marketed as healthy and cool.

People would smoke at work, in hospitals and in the movies simply because they didn’t know how unhealthy the habit actually was. 

Children as young as six became smokers and developed lifelong addictions. 

Doctors such as Eleazer Duncan warned of the dangers of smoking in 1606, but their concerns fell on deaf ears because the habit was too lucrative and too enjoyable to stop. 

Cigarette companies used to use health as part of their advertising campaign, eventually leading to lawsuits by very ill people.

For a while, smoking was hardly seen in films or television, but now actors are seen smoking fake cigarettes to add edge or fit in with the smoking habits of the period in which the film was set.

What Are The Dangers Of Smoking?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking tobacco cigarettes is one of the leading causes of mouth and lung disease, mouth and lung cancer, respiratory illness, and impoverishment across the world.

"NHS SmokeFree" states that smoking is the ‘biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK’.  

Unfortunately, nicotine is not the only chemical you inhale when you smoke.

Cigarettes contain a whole host of carcinogenic chemicals that cause immeasurable damage to your body. 

There are over 4000 toxic substances in cigarettes. Seventy of them cause cancer. People put themselves at risk every time they take a drag of a cigarette. 

Smoking affects circulation, brain function, heart, lungs, stomach, mouth, throat, skin, bones and fertility.  

Lung conditions such as COPD and emphysema develop in long-term smokers and lead to death if smoking continues. 

In fact, it affects your whole body negatively and not just the lungs.

As well as bad breath, smoking causes mouth cancer and damages teeth.  

Your blood thickens, resulting in sluggish circulation, high blood pressure, narrow arteries and an increased risk of a heart attack. Smokers are generally more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers. 

Stomach muscles weaken, increasing the chances of stomach cancer and ulcers. Skin loses its lustre and looks pale due to lack of oxygen. 

Smoking weakens bones and is particularly bad for women at risk of osteoporosis.  

People who smoke risk damaging their fertility too. In men, it reduces circulation to the penis, and in women, it reduces fertility by 28%. (Source: NHS UK). 

Cigarettes can also cause erectile dysfunction. An American study conducted over 20 years found that 40% of smokers suffered from erectile dysfunction compared to 28% of non-smokers.

Five minutes of stress relief leads to years of ill health and poor quality of life. There are many reasons to keep trying and eventually give up.

 

How Smoking Damages Your Lungs

Inhaling 4,000 toxic chemicals, including 70 cancer-inducing substances obviously has a negative effect on your lungs. 

You have two lungs on either side of your heart, consisting of bronchioles and air sacks.

Mucus and cilia line bronchial tubes, keeping them clear and allowing clear breathing. 

The cilia transport pollutants out of the lungs by directing them towards the throat, causing us to cough, spit or swallow. 

This is an effective way to keep the lungs free from infection and disease. 

Smoking cigarettes form a sticky tar all over your lungs, causing the cilia to cease up and stop working.  

They become less effective, clogging up the lungs and increasing your chances of developing respiratory problems. 

Basically, smoking stops your lungs from working properly, making breathing more difficult and putting you at risk of cancer and other horrible diseases. (Source: NHS Smokefree)

Costs Of Smoking

Costs relating to smoking go far beyond the price of a packet of twenty cigarettes.

Health Insurance

Smoking is such a risky habit that health insurance premiums increase by 44%. People who use vaping as a way to stop smoking are not immune to price hikes.  

When you inhale the toxic chemical cocktail, you are making yourself vulnerable to many life-threatening diseases. 

Health insurance companies charge you more for your policy because they are more likely to have to payout. 

According to ‘Go Compare’, you have to have given up smoking and any form of nicotine replacements for a year before your premium reduces.  

Claiming that you are a non-smoker if you smoke is fraudulent and has serious consequences. This kind of price increase is a very good reason to stop smoking.

Home Insurance

‘Policy Expert’, advises people who are considering purchasing home insurance to stop smoking. 

This is because lighting up presents a fire risk. It is not clear how much your policy increases if you are a smoker, but it is an avoidable expense.  

Adding a smoker to your insurance policy increases the premium. 

If your house goes on fire and you have visitors who smoke, the policy becomes invalid. 

Informing your insurance company that smokers live in the property will ensure that you will be able to make a claim on your policy.

Dental Costs

Your teeth and gums suffer serious damage due to smoking. The tar in cigarettes stains teeth and can cause gum disease, tooth loss and cancer.  

If you don’t stop smoking, you will have to see a dental hygienist and receive more dental treatment.  

NHS dental treatment costs between £20.60 and £222.30 depending on the level of work required. Private treatment costs considerably more. This is as good a reason as any to stop smoking.

Cigarette Costs

A packet of cigarettes costs around £10. Most people smoke more than one packet a week, meaning that the expenditure increases drastically. 

If you smoke twenty cigarettes a day, you will spend approximately £3,650 pounds a year on your habit. 

This is a considerable amount of money and can really make a difference in your life.  

All you need to do is make a serious decision to stop smoking. 

Beauty Treatment

If you are self-conscious about your looks, choosing to stop smoking is the best beauty treatment you can use. 

Smoking causes wrinkles because the toxic chemicals weaken the collagen in your skin, causing it to sag. 

When you stop smoking, you save money on cigarettes and on expensive beauty treatments.  

Benefits Of Quitting Smoking

When you quit smoking, you will experience a host of benefits. 

Your teeth will be cleaner and whiter, your breath, your hair and clothes will smell better, and your mouth will feel fresh and clean again. 

Smokers constantly smell cigarettes, and they are often struggling with sinus problems, morning coughs, and mucus. 

However, within days after you quit smoking, these symptoms will clear, and you will feel (and smell) like a new person.

Taste & Smell

Food starts to taste and smell better. Your nerve endings start recovering, and the taste buds on your tongue and your sense of smell start working again.

Blood Circulation

Blood circulation improves. It makes it easier to walk and do exercises. 

The risk of an amputation may also disappear when the blood starts flowing normally through your veins again.

Lung Function

Your lungs' natural cleaning system starts to work normally again, and it will progressively become easier to breathe. 

You could also experience fewer respiratory infections, and mucus in your throat will begin to clear up.

Stay Out Of The Bad Weather

Smoking is banned inside venues, meaning the only place you can get your fix is outside in the smoking area. 

When you stop smoking, you won’t be forced outside into the cold whenever you need a cigarette.

Fresh Breath

Smoking can cause foul-smelling breath, and breath fresheners can only mask the underlying smell. 

When you stop smoking, your breath will probably not smell as bad.

Withdrawal Symptoms From Smoking

Coming off any addictive drug is going to be difficult, so withdrawal symptoms are inevitable. Symptoms include:

  • Cravings for nicotine

  • Sweating

  • Nausea

  • Insomnia

  • Weight gain

  • Irritability

  • Headaches. 

You are most likely to suffer these symptoms if you decide to go cold turkey and suddenly stop smoking. 

This is also the reason people find giving up smoking difficult. Symptoms feel worse three days after giving up because the nicotine is completely out of your system.  

People with strong willpower are able to live through these symptoms and eventually stop feeling them. 

Other people give in to the cravings and only manage to stop smoking for a very short time. 

Most people give up smoking up to 15 times before they find the strength to overcome withdrawal symptoms. (Source: Healthline).

Steps To Stopping Smoking

There are five basic steps to quit smoking:

1. Think about why you should or want to quit smoking.

2. Then decide to quit smoking and keep to this decision.

3. Decide on a date and prepare yourself to stop.

4. Quit smoking.

5. Stay away from cigarettes and smoking - never start again.

When it comes to methods or the rights and wrongs about how to quit smoking, remember that people differ. 

What may have helped one person may not work for another, so be prepared to consider different methods and treatments to establish what works best for you.

What Stop Smoking Treatments Are Available?

It may take many attempts to stop smoking, so you shouldn’t get disheartened if you fail at first. 

Luckily, there are many different ways to help you quit, so you will eventually find the one that is right for you.

The important thing to remember is that whatever type of treatment you choose, it could increase your chances of quitting the habit permanently. 

With a strong will and the right treatment, you can stay smoke-free for the rest of your life.

Nicotine patches, sprays, mints, and gums provide a boost of nicotine and help to quell cravings. 

Drugs like Champix reproduce the effect of nicotine and help you give up without cravings.

Mobile phone apps and support groups provide motivation and celebration of your achievements. 

Smoking is such a harmful habit the NHS provides lots of helpful support so people can give up smoking and live healthier lives.

Over The Counter Nicotine Replacements

Often the craving for nicotine breaks our resolve and prevents us from giving up smoking.  

Nicotine replacement patches, gum, sprays and lozenges can prevent a relapse. These can be bought over the counter and are easily available. 

If you quell your desire for nicotine, you will not be tempted to smoke. This helps you to gradually wean yourself off nicotine. Over counter, nicotine replacement medicines include:

  • Nicorette

  • Nicotine Gum

  • Nicotine Patches

  • Nicotine sprays

 

Vaping / E-Cigarettes

If you want to reduce the number of toxic chemicals you inhale but can’t quite stop the physical action of smoking, e-cigarettes may suit you.  

E-cigarettes look very similar to traditional ones but are electronically charged.  

Vaping involves liquid with or without nicotine that is heated and inhaled. 

Compared to smoking, these methods are much healthier and can wean you off the habit. 

There is continuing debate regarding the long-term effects of vaping, but it is considered less toxic than smoking cigarettes. 

Vaping and e-cigarettes are slightly different. E-cigarettes tend to look like the real thing and do still contain nicotine which is still a harmful chemical. 

Vaping involves liquid that is made up of vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, diacetyl (flavouring), and in some cases, nicotine.  

Diacetyl is known to cause a condition called popcorn lung after workers in a popcorn factory suffered from the same symptoms due to food flavouring.   

One train of thought is that anything that you inhale is harmful, while another is that they are not as unhealthy as cigarettes.  

Chemists stock e-cigarettes and, the NHS suggest them as a step towards giving up smoking.  

Until we know the long-term effects, they could be used as a short-term stepping stone toward giving up.  

However, long-term use may result in having to read articles like this about the benefits of giving up e-cigarettes. If you are in any doubts consult your doctor.

Going Cold Turkey

This hardcore method involves you never smoking another cigarette again ever.  

Some people manage to stop smoking this way very successfully. Others have faltered after three days when withdrawal symptoms kick in. 

Many people have to change their habits and keep away from other smokers to succeed.  

Setting goals and rewarding yourself may help compensate for the lack of nicotine in your system.

Stop Smoking Apps

Stop smoking apps are available for download on Google Play and Apple App Store. Many are free. 

The NHS also has a free App you can use. Most work on the principle of rewarding you for your efforts, highlighting how much money you have saved, health improvement and online chat with other quitters.  

The great thing about mobile phone apps is that we can access them all of the time and benefit from their accessibility. 

Choosing the best app to stop smoking can take time and is very much dependent on your own individual needs. 

Reviews are very useful to provide user insight into how effective the app is in real life.

NHS Smoke-Free - Described as a 4 week stop smoking programme providing ‘practical support, encouragement and tailored advice'. 

It calculates how much money you have saved, your motivation and your cravings. 

A badge is awarded every time you achieve a goal. It tells you how much money you have saved weekly and annually.  

You can even find how much of your life you have preserved by giving up and how your body and breathing are reacting to not having a cocktail of toxins. 

Group Sessions

Sometimes it is easier to stop smoking if others are trying to.

The sense of camaraderie and group motivation can inspire people to quit. 

They will also help you to overcome slip-ups and continue your stop smoking challenge.

Prescription Treatment

Varenicline is a treatment for nicotine addiction. It acts as a blocker and an activator on the nicotine receptor site in the brain. 

When smoking, activation of this receptor leads to a release of dopamine, which is a chemical messenger used by the body to stimulate the reward (feel good) pathway. 

Champix activates the same reward and ‘feel good factor', which is triggered by nicotine, but without the presence of nicotine.

If the person then decides to have a cigarette, they cannot get the same "feel good" effect as before, as the receptors are already blocked from nicotine. 

This leads to the smoker no longer getting the pleasure from smoking, leading to a successful quit. 

Some will get depression and anxiety as they no longer have a reward pathway being activated by smoking.

Champix will help counter that by ensuring dopamine release.

How Do I Use It?

This medication comes in a starter and maintenance (continuation) pack.

It is taken twice a day and comes in 2 weeks or 4-week packs. 

Initially, 0.5mg is taken once a day for 3 days, then twice a day for 4 days. 

Then, the maintenance dose of 1mg is taken twice daily for the length of the treatment. 

Every medicine comes with side effects that you may or may not experience. However, some of these do subside, and you can continue on your stop programme. 

The most common side effect is nausea, and this can be controlled by making sure that Champix is taken with food and a large glass of water. 

The benefits of stopping smoking can be felt almost instantly. With time your body will recover to that of someone who has never smoked. It’s never too late to quit. 

After just one day of quitting, the risk of heart attack drops. 

Blood pressure also returns to normal, and oxygen levels rise, meaning you can do more physical activity without undue burden.

As each year without smoking passes, the benefits increase, and risks decrease, unwinding the damage done through smoking. 

It is important to remember that not every quit attempt will be a successful one, but with the aid of willpower, these treatments can help you quit for good. 

Champix is proven to be a more successful method of quitting than conventional methods available over the counter. 

Stop Smoking FAQ

 

What Is The Safest Way To Stop Smoking?

Going cold turkey is the safest way to stop smoking if taking nicotine replacements concerns you.  

Realistically any stop smoking method is safer than inhaling lots of toxic chemicals. Your doctor or stop smoking clinic will help you find the safest way for you.

Why Stop Smoking During Pregnancy?

Deciding to stop smoking is a good decision for anyone, particularly pregnant women.  

Over 4,000 toxic substances enter our bloodstream every time we inhale cigarette smoke.  

Mothers who smoke are exposing their unborn child to poison without considering the harm it causes the baby.

It is difficult to stop smoking because nicotine is addictive, and the act of smoking is habit-forming. 

Smoking during pregnancy results in low birth weights, and premature and, stillborn babies.  

Blood vessels narrow, reducing the supply of oxygen to the baby affecting its heart and lungs.  

Even smoking one or two cigarettes during pregnancy causes damage to the baby. It affects brain development in the developing fetus, particularly during the first three months.

Often people stop smoking because they have a good reason to give up sadly, some women don’t see pregnancy as a good enough reason.  

If you stop smoking at any time during your pregnancy, you improve the health of your unborn baby straight away. There is plenty of support from health professionals who will help you to stop smoking.

Can Stopping Smoking Reverse Damage?

First of all, you save money which automatically improves your stress levels and makes your bank account healthy.  

Your sense of taste and smell improves, your skin starts to look healthy, and you smell nicer.  

You're also more likely to conceive as your fertility returns to normal. Your body noticeably repairs 20 minutes after you smoke your last cigarette because your pulse returns to normal. 

After eight hours, oxygen levels return to normal, and lungs start clearing after two days. 

Your energy levels and breathing improve after three days. 

Every day after you quit, your body improves a little bit more. 

After fifteen years, your risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who has never smoked. (Source: NHS UK). 

You are most certainly not a lost cause, even if you are a long-term smoker. It is never too late to give up smoking, so what are you waiting for? 

Where Is My Local Stop Smoking Clinic?

The NHS is very keen to help people to stop smoking and provide a Stop Smoking Clinic in most localities.  

Each clinic has a trained set of advisors who can provide you with information to help you quit.  

Studies have shown that it is easier to stop smoking if you do it as part of a group.  

The clinics provide one-to-one and group sessions and discuss nicotine replacement therapies.  

To find your local Stop Smoking Clinic, click on this link and insert your postcode. 

When You Stop Smoking Do You Cough?

You finally stop smoking and develop a cough - great!  

This is especially disappointing if you didn’t cough while smoking.  

Only a minority of people get a stop smoking cough which is directly related to quitting smoking.

It is because the cilia in the lungs are repairing and clearing out the gunk left after you stop smoking.

Although smoking gives you the traditional smoker's cough, it also makes coughing more difficult because of the paralysing effect it has on the lungs. 

The stop smoking cough is actually a good sign that your lungs are working again. 

The cilia are able to start their job of cleaning your lungs again, causing irritation leading to a cough. 

The cough lasts a short time until the cilia are clear.  

If your cough causes breathlessness and tightness, it could be a sign of something more serious.  

You must visit your doctor if your cough is persistent and painful. Ultimately, the stop smoking cough is a sign of returning health.

Why Do You Cough?

Imagine trying to run through treacle and the limitations it puts on your mobility.  

Now imagine the treacle getting shallower - you can move your body but need to keep kicking the treacle off until you are clear.

It is pretty much the same with cilia and tar from cigarettes.  

The fine hairs stick together when you smoke and become mobile when you stop. 

The cilia in the lungs reactivate when you stop coating them with tar and are able to do their job again.  

You cough because they are doing a major clean up job on your lungs, which is a good thing.

A cough generally lasts a few weeks and benefits from drinking plenty of water, using a humidifier and soothing your throat. 

If your cough concerns you, contact your doctor to seek advice.

Why Do People Start Smoking?

Young children come to the conclusion that inhaling 75 different toxic chemicals into their lungs is a really bad idea.  

We all know the dangers of smoking, and some of us will have seen a family member succumb to its ill effects. 

Public places and local pubs push smokers out in the rain, and cigarette prices keep on rising, but people still smoke.

People start smoking for a variety of reasons, including; peer pressure, familiar smells, stress relief and self-medication. 

Some people don’t find the stomach-churning packaging, cost and surreptitious nature of buying cigarettes off-putting.

Most new smokers cough and find their first inhalation awful, and yet, they persist in becoming better smokers. 

Nicotine is very addictive and alters the chemical composition of the brain. This alone is enough to keep smokers coming back for more.  

Rebellion also plays a part because ignoring health warnings is an act of free will.  

Some people just gain comfort and relaxation from smoking which makes them feel better in the short term. 

Years ago, adverts and cigarette cards encouraged people to smoke. Some companies even gave necklaces away after people collected a significant number of cards. 

Films made smoking cool, rebellious, sophisticated, healthy and desirable. This brainwashing seems to carry through the generations, making it difficult for people to stop smoking.

Ready To Quit Smoking?

Now you know a little bit more about the benefits of quitting smoking and your options, are you ready to kick the habit? If you’re going cold turkey, we wish you the best of luck! Or, if you would prefer a little medical support, check out our over the counter and prescription stop smoking treatments. 

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