Still smoking but want to stop? World No Tobacco Day is the perfect time to get some help
It’s estimated that there are around six million people in the UK who still smoke – and a significant number of those want to quit but struggle to follow it through. World No Tobacco Day on 31 May is looking to help.
The annual campaign aims to highlight the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the World Health Organisation is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.
If you are smoker what better time to push on with that long-promised commitment to quit? Giving up smoking will add an average 10 years to your life expectancy, according to medical experts. But we all need a little help sometimes, so here are some simple steps you can take to change your lifestyle and help you resist the temptation to light up.
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 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 getting a change of scene or 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.
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.
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.
JUST SOME OF THE BENEFITS
- Stopping smoking lets you breathe more easily. Lung capacity improves by up to 10 per cent within nine months.
- Stopping smoking gives you more energy. Within two to 12 weeks of quitting, your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.
- Your immune system gets a boost, making it easier to fight off colds and flu. The increase in oxygen in the body can also reduce tiredness and the likelihood of headaches.
- Stress is reduced. It’s a scientific fact that people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking.
- Your sex life will get better: Stopping smoking improves the body’s blood flow, so improves sensitivity.
- Fertility is improved. Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking helps the lining of the womb and can make men’s sperm more potent.
- Smell and taste are heightened. When you stop smoking, your senses of smell and taste get a boost as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
- Your skin looks younger. Stopping smoking can reverse the sallow, lined complexion smokers often have by boosting nutrients, including oxygen.
- You’ll be protecting your loved ones. Breathing in second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. In children, it doubles the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, wheezing and asthma.