Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health and your whānau.
Quitting smoking has many great benefits, in fact it is the one thing shown to make the biggest positive impact on your health. It is also great for your whānau’s health and for your wallet too. Read some tips on how to quit.
Nobody will pretend quitting cigarettes is easy and you might have tried before. But if you are thinking about quitting, and you feel the time is right for you to make the change from being a smoker to a non-smoker, then there is a lot of support available to help you.
There are lots of health benefits to stopping smoking
There are lots of important reasons to quit. Here are a few health benefits:
Smokers who do not quit have a 1 in 2 chance of dying of a smoking-related illness – most commonly lung cancer and other lung disease such as emphysema, heart disease and stroke.
Smoking is a major cause of blindness.
Smoking starves your skin of oxygen making it dry and grey. You develop wrinkles around your eyes and mouth much earlier, and the tar stains your teeth and fingers.
Quitting can improve mood, and help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
Your sense of smell and taste will get better.
Quitting smoking is a challenge. Once you have set the goal to quit and succeeded, you will feel really proud of yourself. Quitting helps you take on other challenges.
Image credit: Heart Foundation, NZ
Recent research involving a large group of people followed up for 20 years found that the sooner people quit smoking, the less likely they were to die from smoking-related conditions eg, cancer, cardiovascular disease and lower respiratory disease. Those who stopped under the age of 35 years were able to completely reverse the mortality risks (risks of dying) associated with smoking. So the sooner you quit the better it will be for you and your whānau.
The first step to becoming smokefree is to choose when you want to quit. Give yourself time to prepare but don't put it off too long. Picking a date too far away gives you time to change your mind or become less motivated. Choose a date that is no more than a week or two away.
Take one day at a time. Mark off each successful day on a calendar. Look at it when you feel tempted to smoke, and tell yourself you don't want to start all over again.
List your reasons for quitting
Write a list of your reasons for becoming smokefree and keep the list with you as a constant reminder of the reasons to stop and the benefits you will enjoy. For example: to improve my health, to save money, for my children. If you have tried to quit before, remember what worked and what has not worked.
Get your whānau and friends involved
Quitting smoking is easier when your friends and whānau are on board. It's helpful having someone to call to keep you motivated when you have those strong urges and cravings. If they don't want to quit or aren't ready to quit, make some rules like not offering you cigarettes or leaving them lying around for you to be tempted.
Image credit: Canva
Reduce the cravings
Nicotine is very addictive. There are lots of treatments available that can help replace the nicotine such as nicotine replacement therapy. Read about treatments here.
Handle the urge to smoke
Avoid triggers or situations that make you want to smoke and make a plan if you are tempted to smoke. Triggers might include social triggers, emotional triggers or habits such as having a cigarette with your coffee. Have some back up activities such as walking around the block, doing a quick house chore, breathing deeply and being mindful or phoning a friend.
Reach out for professional help
Talk to your doctor, nurse or support person about help with quitting including quit treatments and support programmes. Using quit treatments together with support programmes increases your chances of successfully quitting considerably.
Be kind to yourself during this time. This could be going for that walk or run that you found it difficult to do before you quit or spending some of the money that you've saved from quitting.
Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms
When you stop smoking, you are likely to get symptoms which may include feeling sick (nausea), headaches, anxiety, irritability, craving, and just feeling awful. These symptoms are caused by the lack of nicotine that your body has been used to. They tend to peak after 12-24 hours and then gradually ease over 2-4 weeks.
Some people worry about gaining weight when they give up smoking, as the appetite may improve. Anticipate an increase in appetite and try not to increase fatty or sugary foods as snacks. Try fruit and sugar-free gum instead.
Good luck. Throw away all your cigarettes before you start. Remember, there is never “just 1 cigarette”. You can do it!
The single best thing you can do to quit smoking
Dr Mike Evans explains the different stages of quitting smoking, why people enjoy smoking and what you can do to increase your chances of quitting.
(Michael Evans and Mercury Films Inc, Canada, 2012)
Quit for your pets
Our pets aren’t just animals; they’re whānau. Smoking around them may not seem like a big deal, but it has a bigger impact on their health than you might think.