Call it quits

This month sees national No Smoking Day – what better time to ditch the ciggies and add 10 years to your life

We all want to live longer – which is why the fitness and health foods sectors are booming like never before. There’s no doubt regular sensible exercise and a proper balanced diet improve your general health. But there ways to add to your life expectancy which won’t cost you a penny – in fact you’ll save a fortune.

Yes, we’re talking to you, smokers! Give up and according to the medical experts you’ll live on average 10 years longer. We know it’s not easy to quit, but this month there’s a little extra help on the way with the arrival on 13 March of national No Smoking Day #nosmokingday. What better time to stop smoking for good – or help a member of the family or a friend to quit?

According to the NHS, there are some simple steps you can take to change your lifestyle and help you resist the temptation to light up.

Think positive: You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don’t let that put you off. Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you’re really going to do it this time.

Make a plan and stick to it: Prepare for the day you quit and avoid temptation – choose a quit date that’s unlikely to be stressful and make sure you don’t have any cigarettes, lighters or matches on you. Avoid the pub or other places where people around you might be smoking.

Make a list of reasons to quit: Keep reminding yourself why you made the decision to give up – cleaner lungs, stronger heart, extra money in your pocket.

Identify when you crave cigarettes: A craving can last five minutes. Before you give up, make a list of when you are most likely to crave a cigarette and plan five-minute strategies. This could be as simple as planning a change of scene and getting some fresh air

Think about your diet: Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? You may want to change your routine at or after mealtimes.

Watch what you drink: Fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice.

Get some support: Call a friend or relative to get some support. There’s also support available from your local stop smoking service.

Fresh air: Going for a five-minute walk not only helps clear your head and lungs but helps your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.

Keep your hands and mouth busy: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success. As well as patches, there are tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray.

Call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.