Is it too late to stop?

It’s never too late to stop smoking, although every cigarette is doing you damage, so the sooner you stop the better. Once you stop, the health benefits begin immediately and continue for many years as long as you don’t smoke.

As well as the many health benefits, evidence has shown that people who stop are happier as well as being better off financially and less stressed after the initial withdrawal stage.

What withdrawal symptoms should I expect?

Experts have suggested that nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine, so it’s natural to expect withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop smoking. The severity and number of symptoms tend to vary from person to person, but typically symptoms include;

  • irritability
  • depression
  • restlessness
  • poor concentration
  • increased appetite
  • light headedness
  • night-time wakening
  • cravings.

The withdrawal phase is unlikely to last more than four weeks.

How can I cope with withdrawal symptoms?

Using support has been proven to increase your chances of quitting successfully.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) will help you deal with nicotine cravings and a range of products are available either through prescription or over the counter in pharmacies. Non-NRT medications also help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and help you cope with nicotine cravings. Speak to your GP about these products.

There are also many support groups and counselling services available locally. Use the locator to find your nearest service.

Will I put on weight?

Putting on weight is sometimes a worry for people wanting to give up smoking and, although it may happen, it can be limited or avoided by eating sensibly and exercising. Don’t forget, giving up smoking improves your lung function, so physical activity is likely to be easier and of more benefit.

When will I see the benefits?

The benefits of quitting start immediately and continue for many years. For example, after eight hours the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood reduce by half.

What is the first step?

If you feel ready, you could set a quit date and make a plan to help prepare for the challenge ahead. Hopefully this site should answer any questions or help deal with any worries you may have, but if not, you could speak to your GP or pharmacist who could also help you decide if you want to use any NRT or non-NRT medication.

Maybe you prefer to speak to a friend, family member or partner. You could even sign them up as your quit buddy to help you.

I’ve tried this before, how can I make sure I stop for good this time?

If you’ve tried quitting before, you can use your past experience to help you this time. Think about what you learned and why you started smoking again. This should help prepare you for this attempt and help you avoid temptation.

Perhaps you didn’t use any stop smoking aids the last time. Don’t forget, if you use aids, it increases your chances of success. If you did use aids but didn’t think they helped, why not try something different? For example, if NRT didn’t work for you, why not give non-nicotine medicine a go? Speak to your GP for advice on which treatment would suit best.

Is NRT safe?

Yes, NRT is safe to use. It contains only nicotine that you would have otherwise received from cigarettes. It does not contain the other harmful mix of chemicals that forms tobacco smoke. NRT provides a smaller amount of nicotine, more slowly than cigarettes.

Remember, it is not the nicotine that causes most of the health problems associated with smoking, but other things such as tar and carbon monoxide.

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