Why do you smoke?  

Cigarette addiction is part physical and part psychological so when you actually quit smoking you not only have to fight against your bodies physical addiction to nicotine but you also need to try to break a major habit.  

Before you quit, take a few days to study your smoking routine so you can discover what ‘triggers' your smoking. For example, you might smoke when you're at the pub, when you feel stressed, or when you're with a certain group of friends.  

Write down the ‘triggers' for each cigarette you smoke in a day. You will need to understand your habit (and your weak spots) before you can break it:

Why you want to quit?  

Write down all the reasons you want to quit. Keep them with you; you might need to read them whenever you feel the temptation to have a cigarette.  

How you are going to quit?  

Cold Turkey

This is the most successful way to quit. One day you're a smoker the next day you're not.  

Cutting Down

Everyone is different and some people who are extremely addicted to nicotine find this the only way they can quit. If you must use this method set a timetable for cutting down (e.g. by 5 cigarettes a day) to zero and stick to it. This technique can make withdrawal symptoms worse and it's much harder to get over the addiction.  

Set a date

Whatever technique you choose, pick a specific date to quit on, one that's not too far away and plan activities for that day that have nothing to do with smoking or being in a smoking environment.

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Getting over your urge to smoke  

"Smokers who successfully shun cigarettes during the first 24 hours of a quit attempt are 10 times more likely to kick the habit permanently than those unable to stay smokeless for a day"  

- Reuters Health / F. Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Washington.  

The first three months immediately after quitting is the hardest and most setbacks occur during this time. One key to successful quitting is knowing the things that ‘trigger' your desire to smoke and being able to avoid those situations, change them or even finding a cigarette substitute (e.g. a pencil or a lollipop!).  

Keep your list of smoking ‘triggers' with you at all times:

  1. If you smoke to feel less stressed then try using alternative relaxation techniques like exercise, yoga, breathing exercises, relaxing music, etc.
  2. If you smoke as a stimulant then try and get your stimulation from things that are happening in your life such as exercise, an exciting film, good conversation or a book.
  3. If you smoke primarily to keep your hands busy try doing things that allows you to use your hands – play computer games or learn to paint or knit.
  4. If you smoke because you enjoy the feeling of having something in your mouth, try substituting low calorie snacks such as low sugar gum or sweets or even chew on something.
  5. If you associate smoking with a specific food, or drink then try to avoid that drink, drink it in a different way (through a straw perhaps) or go to a different place to have the drink.
  6. If you smoke for no other reason than habit, then try and avoid these particular situations! If certain friends or places make you crave cigarettes then look at your reasons for quitting and make a decision – only you can decide how important quitting is to you.
  7. If you smoke just for the sheer pleasure of it, try to find enjoyment elsewhere (preferably in places where no one smokes). You can use the money you save from not buying cigarettes and go see a film or a concert for example.

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Tips & Hints to help you Quit  

Make a clean start

You are beginning a new life as a non-smoker so make a celebration out of it. If you do this, quitting will not only be easier but you'll be more likely to stay smoke free. Get your hair cut, buy new clothes or get your old clothes cleaned, clean your car so it doesn't smell of smoke, throw out your ashtrays and lighters (yes, throw them out!), flush your all your cigarettes and butts down the toilet and buy yourself a treat. Today is special. You are making a change that will allow you to benefit for the rest of your life.  

Drink lots of fluids

This helps to flush the nicotine and other impurities out of your system.  

Cut down on caffeine

When you stop smoking, the caffeine in coffee, tea and soft drinks such as cola's can become more powerful. This can lead to increased anxiety and jitters. Try to reduce your caffeine intake at the same time and you may find this helps to control more of your withdrawal symptoms.  

Carry your reasons for quitting with you…

Write down the reasons you want to quit, your feelings while trying to quit and also the positive things you've found about being a non-smoker. Look at this piece of paper every time you feel a craving coming on.  

Tell yourself you're a non-smoker

Stop classifying yourself as a smoker who is "not smoking just now". Imagine yourself as a non-smoker and say it over and over to yourself. This visualisation will help you to change the way you see yourself.  

Relaxation Exercises

Every time you crave a cigarette stop whatever you are doing, close your eyes and tense all the muscles in your body and then relax them as fully as possible. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air, and then hold it. Slowly release the air from your lungs as you exhale and keep breathing out until you feel as if you can't breathe out any more. While you do this let you arms fall by your side and let your chin fall onto your chest. Imagine that as you breathe out all the tension and stress is leaving your body from your fingers and your toes. Repeat this process three times. Remember two things, the lotus position isn't necessary and just take everything as it comes – don't feel under pressure to relax!

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The truth about Nicotine Withdrawal  

One of the keys to quitting smoking is acknowledging that smoking cigarettes is an addiction that can be managed and overcome. One of the main reasons people give up quitting is because they find the withdrawal symptoms so fierce and unexpected. Don't worry these symptoms are actually good news, signs that your body is purging itself of all the harmful chemicals cigarettes left in your body. Most people do not experience all of the symptoms below:

Duration

Symptom

Cause

Solution

1 - 2 days

Dizziness

Increased oxygen levels in blood and blood pressure lowering to normal

Be careful, take precautions and don't work too hard

1 - 5 days

Coughing, nose running

The body's respiratory system begins to clean itself

Drink lots of fluids

1 – 5 days

Sore throat

The clearing away of nicotine and tar and the growth of new tissue

Suck sweets, eat honey or anything else that will soothe your throat

1 – 5 days

Tight chest

The coughing causes the chest muscles to get sore

Try relaxation and deep breathing exercises

1 – 2 weeks

Flatulence and constipation

Temporary slowing of intestinal movement

Eat lots of fibre and drink lots of fluids

1 – 2 weeks

Headaches

Increased blood flow (with more oxygen) to the back of the brain

Drink lots of fluids and do relaxation exercises

2 – 4 weeks

Irritability

Your body is desperate for nicotine

Relaxation exercises

2 – 4 weeks

Reduced concentration

Increased blood flow and oxygen to brain and lack of stimulation from nicotine

Don't over exert yourself.

2 – 4 weeks

Fatigue

Without nicotine your metabolic rate drops down to normal

Don't over exert yourself. This feeling will go away in a few weeks

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Quitting: the immediate benefits

A few minutes after you finish your last cigarette your body begins to repair itself and you'll reap the health benefits for the rest of your life.  

20 MINUTES

 

Blood pressure lowers and returns to normal.

 

Pulse rate slows and returns to normal.

2 HOURS

 

As the nicotine continues to leave your system you will feel the symptoms of withdrawal. REAL CRAVING! Stay strong.

8 HOURS

 

The levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood are halved.

 

Oxygen levels increase and return to normal.

24 HOURS

 

Lungs start to work more efficiently and clear out mucus left by cigarette smoke.

 

Carbon monoxide is completely out of your bloodstream.

48 HOURS

 

Nicotine is completely out of your bloodstream.

 

Sense of taste and sense sharpen.

ONE WEEK

 

Most of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are completely gone..

WITHIN TWO TO TWELVE WEEKS

 

Circulation is improving – blood flow improves to hands and feet. Skin looks fresher.

 

Overall energy level increases.

WITHIN THREE MONTHS

 

The tiny hairs (cilia) in the lungs that were paralysed by the tar start to work again and are able to remove the mucus so you can cough it up. In fact, when this happens you might find that you are coughing even more than usual, don't worry this is a good thing and it will soon pass.

THREE TO NINE MONTHS

 

Lung function has increased by 10%.

 

Less breathing problems.

 

Less coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and sinus congestion.

AFTER FIVE YEARS

 

Risk of having a heart attack half that of a smoker.

 

Risk of cancer of the mouth and throat half that of a smoker.

 

Risk of having a stroke the same as a non-smoker (5 – 15 years after quitting).

AFTER TEN YEARS…

 

Risk of lung cancer half that of a smoker

 

Risks of having a heart attack are the same as if you'd never smoked a single cigarette!

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If you lapse and smoke one cigarette it's not the end of the world and that does not make you a smoker again.

 

Learn from your mistakes and try even harder not to smoke the next cigarette.

 

Keep looking at your special piece of paper (why you quit, what you've gone through to quit and the good things about being a non-smoker).

 

Half of all people who have ever smoked have quit. Anyone can do it. What matters is how committed you are to quitting and how much you believe in yourself.

"By deciding to stop smoking you are making the best decision of your life and you will feel wonderful. It is the most positive action you can take. I smoked my last cigarette 22 years ago and I remember thinking that this was the best day of my life and that I had managed to conquer the worst thing in my life"

Richard Wilson

(star of 'One Foot In The Grave')

Best of luck. And remember, quitting is not easy and most people make at least 3 attempts to quit before they quit for good. Research has shown that each time you attempt to quit you learn more about your triggers and weak spots and you gain strength for the next time.

A TOP TIP: if you find that you experience an almost irresistible urge to have a cigarette, IF YOU CAN HOLD OUT FOR FIVE MINUTES THE URGE WILL PASS. This little tip works, not quite sure how, but it does. In fact, it's probably one of the best kept secrets of quitting. Try it and, if it works, tell someone else about it.

The most successful quitters get help. 80% of smokers who quit try to do it without help and it's no coincidence that the same percentage (80%) also go right back to smoking. Don't be afraid to ask for support from your family, friends and colleagues. Tell them you might be irritable and on edge for a few days and ask them to be tolerant. Support is key.

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