There’s a fair chance that if you smoke, you want to quit the habit. You know it’s bad for you. But excuses are easy to make and it’s never the right time – ‘next week’, ‘I’ll do it after my birthday’.
Think about it, though: it makes clothes smell. Food doesn’t taste as good. Even if you put health benefits to one side, quitting makes sense for a more comfortable life. And smoking isn’t cheap either. Our Smoking Calculator shows how much it costs each year – so there’s no excuse not to quit.
Is it hard to quit smoking?
It’s not easy. But you’re four times more likely to quit if you use NHS Stop Smoking Services. Another useful port of call is the NHS Smokefree service; it’s online, but you can talk to an NHS smoking specialist over the phone or via an online chat.
Or visit your GP and ask for support – it’s free. Your GP can sign you up to a 'stop smoking' clinic and may prescribe nicotine patches/gum or stop smoking medication.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
Patches, gum, lozenges and sprays give you a controlled dose of nicotine to help relieve your cravings. NRT won’t stop your cravings, but it gives you time to kick the cigarette habit before you wean yourself off nicotine completely.
Your GP could prescribe Zyban, which works by altering chemicals in your brain that are partly responsible for addictive behaviour. Set a quit date for 7 to 14 days after starting your course of tablets to let them take full effect.
Champix is another drug your GP may prescribe. It works by mimicking the effect of nicotine on the body, relieving cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You should set a quit date for about a week after starting medication, and take the tablets for about 11 weeks.
Both can have side effects, so discuss things with your GP and make sure he or she is aware of any health issues you have before you start to quit the habit with medication.
Quitting the habit just by stopping – can I do it?
It’s not easy. But if you don’t want to take tablets or NRT, you can ‘go cold turkey’. It takes a lot of willpower and you’ll need to make a plan for coping with the cravings. They may last a while, but three days after your last cigarette your body will be completely nicotine-free.
Whatever you decide, it’s a good call: quitting the habit is good for your health.