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Smoking cessation health centre

How to stop smoking

If you are thinking of quitting smoke, you are not alone.

In April 2012 to March 2013, 724,247 people set a quit date with NHS Stop Smoking Services in England alone.

Just over half of them were successful at stopping smoking.

Benefits of quitting smoking

Stopping smoking is good for health and your wallet or purse.

Staying smokefree for 12 months can save an ex-smoker around £1,696.

Within hours of stopping, your body starts to recover from the effects of nicotine and additives. Your blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature, all of which are elevated because of smoking, return to healthier levels. Your lung capacity increases and your bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Poisonous carbon monoxide in your blood decreases, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen.

For many reasons, stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your short and long-term health.

Is it hard to stop smoking?

It's a challenge to stop smoking. How hard you’ll find it depends on several factors including:

  • The number of cigarettes you smoke each day
  • The number of people you spend time with who smoke (parents, friends and work colleagues)
  • The reasons you smoke (weight control, social situations, peer pressure)

Why is smoking so addictive?

Blame nicotine, the main drug in tobacco, for your smoking addiction. Your brain quickly adapts to nicotine and develops a tolerance to it. This means you need to smoke more to get the same rush you used to get from just one cigarette. And when you develop a tolerance to a drug, you're usually addicted. Did you know that nicotine acts on some of the same brain pathways as cocaine?

Tolerance happens when your brain tries to keep itself balanced. Chemicals from the cigarette make the brain release chemicals called noradrenaline and dopamine which give the initial “buzz” from smoking. A "trigger" is anything your brain has connected with smoking. Everyone's triggers are different. Yours might include the smell of cigarette smoke, having an ashtray next to you, seeing a packet of cigarettes at the newsagent, having certain food or drinks, finishing a good meal or talking to someone who you normally smoke with. Sometimes just the way you feel (sad or happy) is a trigger. One of the best ways to help you stop smoking is understanding the triggers that make you crave smoking.

But I really want to stop smoking!

There are different ways to stop smoking. There's no one way to stop smoking that works for everyone. To stop, you must be ready both emotionally and mentally. You must also want to stop smoking for yourself and not to please your friends or family. It helps to plan ahead. This guide will help you get started.

The best strategy is to choose a method that will challenge you to stop, but also one that you can achieve.

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