Smoking is bad for you – it causes around seven out of every 10 cases of lung cancer and increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. A review for the World Health Organisation (WHO) of existing studies also found smoking is associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
January (the start of a new year) is a good opportunity for smokers to consider giving up the habit. Many stop smoking campaigns are founded under the idea if you can quit smoking for 28 days you are more likely to quit for good.
So what can you do to help stop smoking? According to LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Anshu Kaura, staying active is key.
“It’s a good idea to be as active as possible while on your journey to quitting smoking,” Kaura advised.
“Exercise can work as a distraction method, as well as releasing endorphins that will boost your mood.
“This can be especially important as irritability can occur in the first stages of quitting smoking.
“Studies have also proven that even a five-minute walk or stretch can help cut cravings as it produces anti-craving chemicals in the brain.”
Kaura also suggests some additional tips for giving up smoking.
One of the first steps you can take when stopping smoking is to throw away your cigarettes, tobacco, and ashtrays alongside any other smoking paraphernalia or items you associate with smoking.
Kaura explained: “This will help ensure you’re not tempted. If you tend to smoke more when drinking alcohol, try cutting down on your consumption or try and switch to lower alcohol or even non-alcoholic drinks.
“Alternatively, if finishing a meal means having a cigarette, try changing your routine. You could read a chapter of your favourite book, catch up on your favourite show or retreat to another area of the house which you don’t associate with smoking.”
It is thought that expert help and advice can improve your chances of quitting smoking successful by four times.
Kaura advised: “As well as visiting your local LloydsPharmacy to speak to our experts for advice and encouragement, enlist the support of your friends too.
“In addition, if friends or family members want to give up too, suggest to them that you give up together so that you have moral support.
“Apps such as the ‘NHS Smoke Free’ are also a great way to stay motivated, as they include features that can help you calculate how much money you could save whilst tracking how many days you have been smoke free.”
If you find a certain time of day difficult, try changing your routine, and keeping your hands and mouth busy, said Kaura.
She added: “You could try a new hobby or engage more in Sudokus and crosswords to keep the mind and body distracted.”
Learn more about NRT
NRT stands for Nicotine Replacement Therapies which can help you stop smoking. These may include patches, chewing gum and mouth sprays.
NRT products work by slowly releasing nicotine at a low rate into the bloodstream to prevent withdrawal and reduce cravings.
Kaura said: “It has been shown that you are twice as likely to quit smoking using stop smoking medication than going it alone. If you’re unsure which NRT is best for you, visit your local LloydsPharmacy and speak to a member of our team for advice.”
Three NRT products to keep you on track
Relief throughout the day: Nicorette Quickmist SmartTrack, £16.80, LloydsPharmacy
Discreet, instant relief: Nicorette Gum, £20.00, LloydsPharmacy
Replicate the feeling of smoking: Nicorette Inhalator, £21.99, LloydsPharmacy