Although rates of smoking have decreased in the UK in recent years, approximately 6.9 million people over the age of 18 are smokers. Smoking harms almost all organs in the body and it is a leading cause of preventable death. Smoking can damage your heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk of having a heart attack. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it is an important step for reducing your risk of heart disease. We provide some tips to help you stop smoking.
- List the reasons to stop smoking
If you want to stop smoking, an effective and simple thing you can do to stay on track is to write a list of the reasons why you wish to quit smoking. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, you can read this list and it should inspire you to keep going.
- Decide when to stop
As soon as you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease will reduce. The sooner you decide to quit the better. Choose a date within the next two weeks. If you leave it too long, you will give yourself time to change your mind.
- Make a plan
Make a plan to quit smoking and ask your friends, family and co-workers for their support. Identify triggers that make you want to smoke and work out how you will overcome them in advance. For example, if you usually smoke during your break at work, plan to go for a walk instead.
- Manage your cravings
Cigarette cravings are intense urges to smoke and they can last for 5 minutes. Quitting smoking requires a huge amount of willpower. When you get a craving, try to distract yourself for 5-10 minutes until it passes. You could try planning a healthy dinner or plan a route for a cycle ride or a walk. Once the craving has passed, you can give yourself a pat on the back.
- Get support
Getting support to stop smoking can increase your chances of success. You could try contacting your local Stop Smoking Services or chatting to your GP. You could also seek advice from a friend or family member who has successfully stopped smoking or someone who is also trying to quit. You could also consider using a stop smoking aid, such as nicotine patches, gums, lozengers or nazal sprays to help stop the cravings.