To help you quit smoking we’ve asked five of our NHS experienced clinicians to share some ‘stop smoking tips’, and help you quit for good.
There’s no getting around it, quitting smoking is hard work. You know the facts (they’re splashed over every cigarette packet) but somehow you can’t bring yourself to cut the habit. These stop smoking tips are designed to be used in combination and to fit around your lifestyle, so try whatever works for you and remember that help is at hand.
Try nicotine replacement therapy (i.e. gums, patches, inhalers)
From Dr Minal Bakhai
“Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) gives your body the nicotine it craves without the toxic chemicals you get from cigarettes (such as tar). This helps you to stop smoking without having unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
NRT doesn’t ‘make’ you stop smoking (you still need the determination to succeed), but people who use NRT are almost twice as likely to quit compared to those who use no treatment.
The health problems from cigarettes, such as lung and heart diseases, are due to the tar and other chemicals found in cigarettes, so taking NRT instead of smoking is one step towards a healthier life. The dose of nicotine in NRT is not as high as in cigarettes and is not absorbed as quickly, so although cravings are reduced they may not go completely.
It’s available as gum, patches, lozenges, microtabs, inhalers, and sprays. Different treatments work in different ways, the patch slowly releases nicotine giving a regular background level of nicotine and is particularly useful for heavy smokers who need a cigarette as soon as they wake up. Others (like the inhaler) are faster acting to tackle sudden cravings. A course of NRT usually lasts eight to twelve weeks, so you can gradually phase out the routine of smoking.
Unfortunately, many people try the inhalers and stay hooked on the smoking action, making it far too easy to slip back into a regular smoking routine. To combat this you may want to try a combination of both a slow- and fast-release NRT product. Evidence suggests this is more effective than using only one type of NRT, particularly among heavy smokers.”
Reduce cravings with prescription medicines
From Dr Gigi Taguri
“Stop smoking medicines such as ‘Champix’ or ‘Zyban’ are alternatives which help you stop smoking, not by substituting nicotine, but by dampening the cravings themselves and reducing the addictive effect of cigarettes. Champix in particular has been proven to increase your chances of quitting by up to 300%.
Champix is a prescription only medicine which stimulates the same receptors in the brain as nicotine. This means that it blocks nicotine from acting on the ‘nicotinic receptors’, and thus prevents any nicotine inhaled from tobacco smoke from having a rewarding effect. Once smoking doesn’t feel as good, you’re three times more likely to quit.
As they take a few days to work fully, I recommend that you start these medicines for a week or two before you stop smoking, as well as combining these medicines with an active smoking cessation plan. We can prescribe Champix for you online here at LloydsPharmacy, just visit our Stop Smoking Clinic for a doctor’s assessment, or try our four week starter pack.”
Break your routine
From Dr Clyde Mackey
“Stop smoking medicines and NRTs are great at reducing cravings and giving you more control, but they can’t change your habits. So it’s best to combine these medicines with some habit-breaking techniques. For instance, if you usually have a smoke with your morning cup of tea, switch to orange juice or coffee. Another example could be eating at different times, or planning something directly afterwards so you don’t have time for a ‘post-lunch’ cigarette. Essentially try anything to break your regular associations with smoking.One of the most common reasons for relapsing is going out and drinking alcohol, it’s a real downer for us to say, but
unfortunately it leads to all types of triggers and gives you reduced self-discipline. My advice isn’t to avoid alcohol altogether, but instead try curbing your intake and breaking your normal routine once again. Drink something very different than usually, and partner up with friends who don’t smoke, watch what they do when others smoke and try and stick with them.
Sometimes you just can’t avoid all the possible triggers around you, but one last technique is to simply delay it. Bargain with yourself and say “if I still feel this bad after a nicotine gum/stick/inhaler in 10 minutes, then I’ll have a smoke.”
Use food science
From Dr Christina Hennessey
“A US study revealed that some food types make cigarettes more satisfying which makes it that much harder to resist your after dinner smoke. Foods such as meat, chips, and pizza can make cigarettes irresistible; so try to avoid these in the first two weeks when your cravings are most intense. Instead, opt for cheese, fruit, and vegetables which can make cigarettes taste awful to most people.
Similarly drinks such as alcohol, coke, coffee and tea all make cigarettes taste better. Whereas water and juice has the opposite effect. Simply switching your drink of choice from a pint of beer to a vodka orange could make all the difference.”
From Dr Samantha Wellappili
“It may not be the easiest stop smoking tip, but physical activity can help reduce your nicotine cravings and relieve your withdrawal symptoms. It may also help you reduce stress and will release endorphins so that you feel better about what your doing. When you have the urge to smoke, do something active instead, like 10 press ups or squats, or a quick walk round the block. Just a small amount of exercise will release endorphins (pleasure hormones) in your brain and will give you the perspective you need to resist.
If you can manage to transfer the habit of smoking into something positive like exercise, then you are far more likely to quit smoking for good. So focus on your goal and why you’re giving up, then create a list of light exercises that you can do whenever you feel a craving.
With every year, more evidence shows that smoking causes a number of painful and fatal cancers, there really couldn’t be a better time to quit than now. We these tips from our doctors can help you stop smoking in 2014 and we wish you all the best of luck.”