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Our top tips to stop smoking

Dr Noel Baxter, GP and British Lung Foundation medical advisor, shares his tops tips for quitting smoking.

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health – no matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been a smoker. But it can be hard to change a long-term habit. Here are our tips to help you quit and to prepare you for what to expect when you stop smoking.

Get support

Speak to your GP, pharmacist or local stop smoking service for support and to chat through different quitting options. Research shows you’re around 3 times more likely to stop successfully if you combine treatment with stop smoking support.

It’s also important to get support from your friends and family. Tell them about your decision to quit – they’ll be able to help you when you need a distraction. And if someone close to you is thinking of quitting too, why not stop at the same time so you can support each other?

Make a plan

Pick a date to stop and from that day, call yourself a non-smoker - and think of yourself as one. You could even plan something fun to take your mind off it.

Find what works for you 

What helps one person quit smoking might not be what works best for you. It’s important to think about all the different products that can help you quit.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches, gums and lozenges, can help you overcome the urges to smoke. You can get these products on prescription or over the counter from a pharmacy. For most people, the best approach is to combine 2 types of NRT. This could be using a patch for a background level of NRT, and then gum when you get cravings.

You can also try stop smoking medications. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about these.

Switching to an e-cigarette is another option. If you do use an e-cigarette, make sure you buy a regulated product and speak to your local stop smoking service who can give you advice on which product may work best for you. Eventually, it’s best to stop vaping as well, especially if you have a lung condition.

Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms

As soon as you stop smoking, your body will start to recover. But you might experience nicotine withdrawal and recovery symptoms in the first few weeks.

It’s important to remember the symptoms will pass and there are lots of things you can do to manage them in the meantime.

If you’re thinking about having a cigarette, try to distract yourself with things like calling a friend, going for a walk or drinking a glass of water to keep yourself occupied.

Keep trying

Quitting smoking can take many attempts. If you try one method and it doesn’t work – don’t give up! There are lots of others to try. Try to focus on why you want to quit and how your health will improve after quitting.

If you’re thinking about stopping smoking, it’s important you feel ready to make the change. Take our online questionnaire: am I ready to quit smoking?

Do you or someone you know need help quitting smoking? Our information explains why you should stop smoking and the steps you can take to quit.

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11 March 2020