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How to cut down on smoking

How to cut down on smoking

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Medically reviewed by Stefano Mirabello, BPharm and written by Rajive Patel, BPharm - Updated on 22 Aug 2023
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OverviewWhat are the benefits of quitting smoking?Stop smoking aidsTips for cutting down on smokingSources

You’ve decided that you want to cut down on smoking. Congratulations! Just by reading this you’re already on your way to becoming a non-smoker. Here are a few tips to help you along your journey.

What are the benefits of quitting smoking?

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide and it is well-documented that the health risks of smoking are detrimental. However, many smokers find it difficult to quit due to the addictive nature of nicotine. There are a number of reasons to quit smoking but the most important benefit of quitting smoking is the major health benefits.

Firstly, quitting smoking can improve your respiratory health. Lung function begins to improve within just a few days of giving up smoking, and cilia (tiny hairs that help to clear mucus from the lungs) start to regrow. This reduces your risk of developing conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer.

Secondly, quitting smoking can improve your heart health. Cigarette smoke damages the lining of your arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of developing heart disease and can also help to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.

Finally, quitting smoking can have a positive impact on your appearance. Smoking causes wrinkles and yellowing of the skin and gives teeth a dull stained appearance. Quitting smoking can help to improve the overall health of your skin and may also help to prevent hair loss. There are many good reasons to quit smoking. Even if you have been smoking for many years, it is never too late to make a change and improve your health.

Stop smoking aids

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a popular method for quitting smoking and it can be very effective. There are a few different forms of nicotine replacement therapy, including patches, gum, and lozenges. The nicotine patch is worn on the skin and delivers a steady supply of nicotine throughout the day. The nicotine gum and lozenges are designed to be used when the urge to smoke strikes, providing a quick dose of nicotine to help fend off the craving.

One of the benefits of nicotine replacement therapy is that it can help to ease withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, headaches and insomnia. In addition, it can help to reduce the risk of weight gain after quitting smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy is available over the counter or by prescription and it is generally considered safe for most people. However, it is important to talk to a healthcare professional before starting any type of quit-smoking program.

An electronic cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette is a fairly new addition to smoking cessation aids. An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device that heats a liquid to produce an aerosol vapour, which typically contains nicotine. E-cigarettes are often designed to resemble traditional cigarettes, cigars or pipes and can be used in a similar manner. However, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, and the vapour produced does not contain tar or other harmful chemicals. E-cigarettes are a way to help people quit smoking. A 2019 study found when combined with expert face-to-face support, people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking were twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.

Tips for cutting down on smoking

  • Make a plan. Decide when you’re going to quit and what methods you’ll use to help you stay on track
  • Get rid of all cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car and workplace. This will help to reduce your temptation to smoke
  • Start by cutting back on the number of cigarettes. It is easier to cut down gradually rather than go cold turkey, but it is helpful to have a quit date in mind. If you typically smoke 10 cigarettes daily, try smoking only 8 cigarettes a day for a week or two. Then cut back to 6 cigarettes a day. The goal is to eventually get down to smoking only 1 or 2 cigarettes a day
  • Try changing up your routine. If you usually smoke after meals, try smoking before meals instead. Or if you typically smoke while watching TV, try going for a walk instead. By changing up your routine, you’ll make it easier to break the habit of smoking altogether
  • Think about what triggers your urge to smoke. Is it stress? Boredom? Certain people or places? Once you know what triggers your urge to smoke, your chances of success are greater. You can avoid those triggers altogether or come up with a plan for how to deal with them without smoking
  • Keep active. Being active can curb nicotine cravings and ease some nicotine withdrawal symptoms
  • Use distractions. Make sure you have plenty of chewing gum or boiled sweets on hand for when the urge strikes. This could help satisfy the urge to smoke and give your mouth something else to do besides holding a cigarette. Healthier alternatives could be a supply of healthy, non-fattening snacks. These could include fruit and sugar-free chewing gum. You could also keep your hands busy by knitting, playing with a stress ball or holding a pen or straw
  • Get support from family, friends and loved ones. It’s easier to stick to your goals when you have someone cheering you on!
  • Get in touch with a healthcare professional. Your NHS GP can offer practical help and advice and tailor a quitting method and quit plan to your needs. Your health professional may also refer you to a free local stop-smoking service. Advisers are trained to deliver advice and provide support groups and encouragement that can improve your chances of quitting

Remember, quitting smoking is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight and it’s definitely not going to be easy, but it is possible. Each day that you smoke fewer cigarettes, you are one step closer to being smoke-free for good!

Sources

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The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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