Making the decision to quit smoking is perhaps the most important decision you can make about your health. Using approved, free stop smoking services available through over 600 service providers across Northern Ireland can increase your chances fourfold.
If you have decided to go it alone, however, here are a few tips to help you be successful.
Small changes in your lifestyle can really help you resist the temptation to light up again.
You may have made a quit attempt before and not succeeded but don’t be discouraged.
Many people who choose to quit smoking have made several attempts before finally quitting for good. Remind yourself of the things that worked for you in the past and think carefully about how you will make this attempt the one that succeeds.
Make a plan
In order to maximise your success, you need to make a plan. Set your quit date and stick to it. Start off by deciding not to smoke at all – not even a drag. Surprising as it may seem, research has found that when smokers stop abruptly they are more likely to succeed. When you feel the urge to smoke, think about something else. Your cravings will pass in just a few minutes.
If you are going to be in situations which may be difficult, think ahead and plan how you will resist the urge to smoke again. For example, when you're at a party, stick with the non-smokers.
Your diet can make smoking more enjoyable. A US study found that some foods such as meat can make cigarettes more satisfying. Other foods such as fruit, vegetables and cheese can make cigarettes taste horrible.
Your routine around mealtimes can also contribute to your smoking, so think about doing something different such as doing the dishes immediately or sitting in a room where you don’t normally smoke.
Change your drink
The same US study as above found that certain drinks tended to make smoking more satisfying, such as alcohol, fizzy drinks, tea and coffee, so try to drink more water and juices.
Manage your cravings
Once you decide to quit, your body will crave the nicotine but these cravings rarely last longer than a few minutes. Before your quit attempt, think about what you can do to manage these. For instance, you might go for a quick walk or take a drink of water. Have a list of strategies to help you cope with the cravings when they come.
Get help to stop
Many people who quit have friends or family who want to quit too. Try to quit together, that way you can support each other.
If you find going it alone gets too tough, remember you can find support from any of the stop smoking service providers across Northern Ireland.
Many studies have shown that physical activity can help to cut the cravings to smoke and lead to better health too.
Make non-smoking friends
Lots of your friends may be smokers and when they nip out for a puff, you may be tempted to join them, so make friends with non-smokers.
Keep your hands and mouth busy
Part of the attraction of smoking is the routine of holding the cigarette and putting it in your mouth so try to give your hands something else to do like holding your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.
Using nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) can double your chances of success. NRT is available in a range of formats such as patches, tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. And if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator.
Reasons to quit
When making a quit attempt, it helps to make a list of all the reasons why you are doing this such as for your children or grandchildren, to save money or for health reasons.
Keep reminding yourself why you made the decision and read your list when you need encouragement.
Over the course of a year a 20-a-day smoker spends nearly £4,000 in cigarettes, enough to pay for a seven night Mediterranean cruise for four people.
If you want help to quit at any time, there are specially trained smoking advisors are available across Northern Ireland who can give you the help and support you need to make a successful quit.