Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health. With the right help and support, it’s possible to quit smoking and stay that way.
Quitting smoking can be hard, but the right help, support and advice makes it easier. In this section you will find some top tips to help you quit smoking
Tips to help you quit smoking
- List your reasons to quit. What motivates people is different for everyone, but there is some more information below about the many benefits of quitting.
- Tell people that you’re quitting and ask for the support of your friends and family. If you live with someone else who smokes, it will be much easier to quit if they quit with you.
- Set a date. Any day will do, but the act of choosing a date will help you to focus and plan.
- Remember that quitting can take you more than one go – and that’s ok! If you have tried to quit before, remember what helped you and think about your triggers and how best to avoid them.
- Consider using stop smoking aids or getting support from a stop smoking service. Did you know that you’re up to 3 times more likely to stop smoking for good if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and receive support from a stop smoking service?
- Have a plan of what you will do if you are tempted to smoke. Prepare some alternative strategies for coping with stress if your usual coping mechanism is to have a cigarette.
- Keep cravings at bay by keeping busy.
- Exercise away the urge.
- Make time to take breaks and go outside.
- In the first few days, consider changing up your routine to avoid situations where you might usually smoke.
- Avoid substances that you associate with smoking within the first few weeks, for example, alcoholic drinks.
- Join the Better Health Quit Smoking Support Group on Facebook for support and advice.
- If you end up relapsing, don’t consider it a failure. Every time you try to quit, you increase your chance of quitting for good.
What happens to your body when you quit smoking
Quitting smoking has many benefits to your body and the good news is that some of these changes will happen almost straight away! Look at what happens when you quit for good:
- After 20 minutes – check your pulse rate. It will already be starting to return to normal.
- After 8 hours – Your oxygen levels are recovering and the harmful carbon monoxide level in your blood will have reduced by half.
- After 48 hours – All carbon monoxide is flushed out. Your lungs are clearing out mucus and your sense of taste and smell are improving.
- After 72 hours – If you notice that your breathing feels easier, it’s because your bronchial tubes have started to relax. Your energy will also be increasing.
- After 2-12 weeks – Blood will be pumping through to your heart and your muscles much better because your circulation will have improved.
- After 3-9 months – Any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases by up to 10%.
- After 1 year – Great news! Your risk of heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker’s.
- After 10 years – More great news! Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared with a smoker’s.
Other benefits of quitting
As well as the benefits to your physical health, there are some other benefits to quitting smoking. These include that:
- You will save money! Use the NHS Inform tool to calculate how much money you could save by quitting smoking and think about how you could spend that money differently.
- If you have children, they will be less likely to smoke if they grow up with parents who don’t.
- You are likely to experience reduced anxiety, depression, and stress after the withdrawal period has passed.
- You will have more energy to spend time with your friends and family.
- You will smell better.
- Your complexion will improve, and you will avoid premature wrinkles.
- You will be able to travel on public transport without worrying about wanting a cigarette.
- You won’t have to go outside for smoking breaks at work or when out at restaurants and pubs when the weather is bad.
- You won’t be funding the tobacco industry.
- You won’t be contributing to the environmental impact of the tobacco industry or the child labour and hazardous employment conditions often associated with tobacco growing.
How is smoking linked to stress?
You might feel that smoking helps you to manage stress – but it actually increases anxiety and tension. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation, so people smoke in the belief that it reduces stress and anxiety. This feeling is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms which contribute towards stress and anxiety.
Stopping smoking aids, like nicotine replacement therapy or e-cigarettes can help you to manage the experience of withdrawal, but it’s also really important to develop alternative coping mechanisms to managing stress. To find out more about ways to manage your stress, you may want to visit the Wellness Hive.
Why is it important to quit smoking in pregnancy?
Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. When you stop smoking:
- You will reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and birth
- You are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
- You will reduce the risk of stillbirth
- Your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
- Your baby is less likely to be born with a low birth weight. Babies of smokers are, on average, lighter than other babies, which can cause problems during and after labour. For example, they are more likely to have problems keeping warm and are more likely to get infections
- You will reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as “cot death”
- Stopping smoking now will also help your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.
- Staying stopped after the birth of your baby and bringing them up in a smokefree home means your child is less likely to ever start smoking in later life
The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But even if you stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, this will benefit you and your baby.
If your partner or anyone else who lives with you smokes, their smoke can also affect you and your baby before and after their birth. Second-hand smoke can reduce your baby’s birthweight and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia during their first year.
Speak to a midwife for support to quit smoking in pregnancy:
Speak to a stop smoking advisor about your partner quitting smoking:
Is vaping better or worse than smoking?
Experts agree that vaping is much less harmful than smoking, but it is not risk-free.
Cigarettes release thousands of different chemicals when they burn. Many are poisonous and up to 70 cause cancer. Toxins in tobacco smoke can also cause other serious illnesses, including lung disease, heart disease and stroke.
In contrast, vaping exposes you to far fewer toxins than cigarette smoking, and vapes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most harmful substances in tobacco smoke.
However, vaping is not harmless. Short-term effects can include:
- dizziness, and
- sore throats.
Vaping has not been around for long enough to know the risks of long-term use. This includes the long-term effects of inhaling the flavourings in vapour. While vaping is much less harmful than smoking, it is unlikely to be totally harmless.
The healthiest option is not to smoke or vape, so if you do not smoke, you should not start vaping.
Can vaping help me quit smoking?
Vaping can be used to help you quit smoking, as vapes usually include nicotine. Nicotine itself is not very harmful and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking. Vaping can help you to manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms whilst you’re quitting, whilst decreasing the number of toxins you are exposed to.
The routines and rituals of smoking can also be hard to stop, so vaping can be used as a tool when you’re quitting to help you gradually let go of these while immediately reducing the health risks of smoking cigarettes. Evidence shows that you’re roughly twice as likely to quit smoking if you use a vape compared with other nicotine replacement products, like patches and gum.
Should I quit vaping?
Once you have been vaping for a while and feel sure you will not go back to smoking, it is recommended that you aim to eventually quit vaping too.
Many vapers find they get to this stage after about 12 months, but everyone is different. Do not rush this step. Only reduce your vaping frequency or nicotine strength when you feel you will not go back to smoking and do not have to puff more to compensate. Remember that smoking is more harmful than vaping.
There are a couple of ways to try to quit vaping:
- reduce your frequency of vaping over time
- gradually reduce the strength of nicotine in your e-liquid
Are vapes safe to use in pregnancy?
There is little research on the safety of vaping in pregnancy, but it’s likely to be much less harmful for you and your baby than smoking.
If you’re pregnant and need support to quit smoking, licensed nicotine replacement therapy products like patches and gum are the recommended option.
But if you find vaping helpful to quit and to stay smoke-free, it is much safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke. The most important thing is to not smoke when pregnant or around pregnant women.
Speak to a midwife for support to quit smoking in pregnancy:
Did you know that you’re up to 3 times more likely to stop smoking for good if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and receive support from a stop smoking service?
I would like to receive support from a stop smoking service
You can register with Get Healthy Rotherham using the button below or by calling 01709 718720 to access free support and advice to help you quit smoking.
Get Healthy Coaches will meet with you every week for up to three months and provide you with all the support, motivation, and expert guidance that you need to stop smoking for good. You can access this support online, in person or over the phone to suit you.
The Get Healthy Coaches will also be able to advise you on and supply a range of stop smoking aids such as a nicotine replacement therapy. All of the support provided is free, including access to nicotine replacement therapy which will be posted directly to you.
Smoking in Pregnancy team
If you are pregnant, specialist support is available through Rotherham Hospital’s Smoking in Pregnancy team. This includes:
- Weekly face-to-face visits or telephone support
- Free nicotine replacement treatment
- Information and advice on using e-cigarettes
- Other support throughout your pregnancy and postnatal period.
Further information is available on the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust website.
You can make an appointment by calling 01709 423729.
National Smokefree Helpline
If you want to talk to someone about quitting smoking, you can call the free National Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044. You will be able to to talk with a trained adviser for advice and support.
I would like to know more about stop smoking aids
Stop smoking aids help you manage nicotine cravings and other tobacco withdrawal symptoms. There are many different options.
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as patches, sprays, gum and lozenges
NRTs give you nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes and tobacco) without any of the harmful chemicals. They can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms of quitting. Also, NRTs have been widely used for many years as a safe treatment to help with quitting. They can be bought from pharmacies, supermarkets and some other shops. They may also be prescribed by a doctor or a stop smoking service.
Nicotine vapes (e-cigarettes)
Vapes are electronic devices that let you inhale nicotine in a vapour instead of smoke. This is done by heating a solution (e-liquid), which comes in different nicotine strengths and flavours.
Vapes come in a variety of models. They can be bought from specialist vape shops, some pharmacies, supermarkets and other shops. Unlike NRTs, they are not available on prescription from a doctor or other healthcare professional.
Research shows that nicotine vapes are an effective tool for quitting smoking. People who use a vape daily together with support from a stop smoking service have the most success at quitting.
Experts agree that although vapes are not risk-free, they carry a small fraction of the risks of cigarettes.
Tobacco-free nicotine pouches are fairly new in the UK and currently are not recommended as a stop smoking aid, due to a lack of research on how safe or effective they are for stopping smoking.
Nicotine pouches are placed between the lip and gum and come in different nicotine strengths and flavours.
There are two prescription-only stop smoking medicines, which are in tablet form:
• varenicline (brand name Champix)
• bupropion (brand name Zyban)
These medicines do not contain nicotine, but they can help with withdrawal symptoms.
If recommended by a doctor or a stop smoking adviser, they can be taken together with nicotine replacement products.
Both varenicline and bupropion are currently not available in the UK due to supply issues.
Speak to a doctor or stop smoking adviser about availability or an alternative treatment.
I would like to sign up for daily email support
You’re more likely to stop smoking with the right support, so sign up for daily email support.
If you are worried about someone you know, in this section you will find some top tips to help them quit smoking.
Top tips to help someone you care about
- Don’t judge or criticise them. Remember that nicotine is an addictive substance, and it can be difficult for people to stop smoking.
- Let them know your concerns and tell them you will support them if/when they’re ready to quit.
- Share the information on this page so they understand the support and advice that is available.
- Encourage them and offer emotional support, especially when they are finding it challenging.
- Celebrate their accomplishments and remind them of what they have achieved.
- Stay positive if they have a slip-up.
- Keep in mind that it may take multiple attempts for them to quit for good.
- If you are a smoker too, consider stopping with them. You will both be more likely to succeed if you do it together.
- Listen to their reasons for smoking, and then support them to think through other solutions to remove their barriers to quitting.
I am concerned about a young person vaping
Smoking is much more harmful than vaping, but it is not risk-free. The healthiest option is not to smoke or vape, so if you do not smoke, you should not start vaping.
It’s important to listen to children and young people when talking about vaping, but also to ensure that they are aware of the risks. Tips on how to talk to your child about vaping are included below:
- Find the right moment when you see someone vaping, walk past a vape shop or see advertisements.
- Ask questions – what do they think about vaping? Do they know people who vape? Why do they think people vape? Listen to them learn from them, but also use your knowledge to help them understand the facts and that vapes are not harmless.
- Talk about your expectations – explain your concerns and tell them why you don’t want them to vape or smoke and to make clear that although neither are recommended, smoking is the far greater risk.
- Let them know that you care about them – explain that those who knowingly sell vapes to under 18s don’t care who they sell to and they are just interested in making money
- Talk about the different reasons why children may vape – give examples such as wanting to fit in, curiosity, stress. Talk through effective ways to respond if they ever feel pressured to try it and practise responding together.
- If your child is vaping, try to understand why they are vaping by asking questions like “What do you enjoy about vaping?” Or “How does vaping make you feel?”. Understanding this might help you to understand their needs and discuss other ways to meet those needs.
Downloadable Posters and Leaflet
I want to report the illegal selling of tobacco and vapes
In England tobacco products are regulated, which means that all products must be labelled, packaged, and have contents that are consistent with the criteria outlined in the law. Tobacco products that do not meet this criterion are unregulated products and selling these is a crime. Unregulated products present a serious risk to those who smoke them, as their contents are unknown. The reduced price of illegal tobacco may also attract younger smokers who would not usually be able to afford to buy cigarettes.
It is illegal to sell tobacco products (both regulated and unregulated) to anyone under 18 or for adults to buy them for children.
Illicit trade is not just a health issue, it is also tax fraud which reduces money for public services, and also fuels local and national criminality and gangs, including child exploitation.
If you need to report illicit, unregulated tobacco or vape products, or shops selling products to children under 18 years, please contact Trading Standards
List your reasons to quit. What motivates people is different for everyone, but there is some more information below about the many benefits of quitting.
Tell people that you’re quitting and ask for the support of your friends and family. If you live with someone else who smokes, it will be much easier to quit if they quit with you.
Set a date. Any day will do, but the act of choosing a date will help you to focus and plan.
Remember that quitting can take you more than one go – and that’s ok! If you have tried to quit before, remember what helped you and think about your triggers and how best to avoid them.
Consider using stop smoking aids or getting support from a stop smoking service. Did you know that you’re up to 3 times more likely to stop smoking for good if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and receive support from a stop smoking service?
Have a plan of what you will do if you are tempted to smoke. Prepare some alternative strategies for coping with stress if your usual coping mechanism is to have a cigarette.
Keep cravings at bay by keeping busy.
Exercise away the urge.
Make time to take breaks and go outside.
In the first few days, consider changing up your routine to avoid situations where you might usually smoke.
Avoid substances that you associate with smoking within the first few weeks, for example, alcoholic drinks.
Join the Better Health Quit Smoking Support Group on Facebook for support and advice.
If you end up relapsing, don’t consider it a failure. Every time you try to quit, you increase your chance of quitting for good.
National information and advice on quitting smoking.
National Smokefree Helpline
Free helpline with trained advisors who can provide help and support.
Telephone: 0300 123 1044