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Giving up smoking

Here are some top tips for making a fresh start

  1. Set a date to stop and stick to it. Pick a day that will be relatively stress-free.
  2. Write down all the reasons you want to stop smoking. There are lots of benefits of quitting smoking and yours might include saving money, being healthier, or for the sake of your family. Keep your list somewhere handy to use as a reminder if you are tempted to have a cigarette.
  3. Keep a diary for a day or two. Note down all the times and places you smoke, with a note of how much you needed each cigarette. This will help you plan for tricky moments. You might find our smoking diary helpful.
  4. Get help. Let friends and family know you're quitting and tell them what they can do to help. Your GP, nurse or pharmacist will be delighted to give you advice about stop smoking support and to let you know about specialist services and helplines.
  5. Quit together. Find others who would like to give up smoking and agree to support each other. Keep in daily contact and make a pact not to let each other down.
  6. Ease the withdrawal symptoms and plan some help. Nicotine is addictive and you may experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability, lack of concentration and sleeping problems. These effects of stopping smoking are temporary and can be greatly eased with treatments like NRT, Zyban or Varenicline.
  7. Prepare to stop smoking. Get rid of lighters, ashtrays and matches and make sure you don't have any cigarettes around. Remove any stale smoke smells by spring-cleaning your house and clothes.
  8. Take it one day at a time. Concentrate on getting through each day without a cigarette. Know what you are going to say if someone offers you a cigarette - enjoy saying, "No thanks - I don't smoke".
  9. Break the links that create the habit. Most smokers will have times and places when they always have a cigarette, like after a meal or with a drink in the pub. Try to avoid these situations at first if you think you will be tempted to smoke, or do something different - you could go for a short walk after a meal.
  10. Learn to relax! Try this simple breathing exercise: If possible, sit down with feet flat on the floor, hands resting on knees. Breathe slowly in and out through the nose a couple of times, concentrating on the sensation of air moving in and out of the body.

Start to breathe more deeply, still through the nose, consciously letting the air fill the abdomen, then the lower and upper chest in sequence. Breathe out the same way, expelling the air from the abdomen, lower and upper chest in turn.

Repeat this breath 3 or 4 times, and then return to normal breathing.

Follow the 10 top tips above and then:

  • Reward yourself! Save the money that you would have spent on cigarettes for a treat such as a new outfit, going out for a meal or taking a holiday.
  • And remember - once stopped, stay stopped. Remember that 'just one cigarette' can lead to another. Keep reminding yourself of the health and other benefits of stopping smoking. Make sure you take the full course of any nicotine replacement treatment you are using.

You can find out more on the British Heart Foundation or No Smoking Day websites.