Giving up smoking is notoriously difficult, with thousands of people trying to quit cigarettes every day but many taking several attempts before they finally manage to kick the habit of a lifetime.
Indeed, for lots of Brits, smoking is not just something they have recently started, but a practice they have been doing for several years, perhaps even decades, which means it is not just a physiological challenge to stop smoking, but also a psychological one.
According to Rolling Stones’ legend Keith Richards – who has been puffing away on cigarettes for decades – nicotine cessation is harder than giving up heroin.
The 75-year-old, who has admitted to taking his fair share of drugs during his rock ‘n roll days, told Mojo: “Quitting heroin is like hell, but it’s a short hell. Cigarettes are just always there, and you’ve always done it. I just pick ‘em up and light ‘em up without thinking about it.”
That’s why smokers need all the assistance they can get if they are really committed to quitting. Reading our tips on how to distract yourself from lighting up might just help you keep off cigarettes for longer than you think you’re capable of.
- Professional support
Those who have been puffing away for years do not just have a habit, they have an addiction, and the first step to breaking this is to come to terms with it.
This doesn’t mean it’s ever too late to give up, but you might need much more support than you appreciate. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 68 per cent of adult smokers in the US wanted to give up completely in 2015, and 55.4 per cent quit for more than one day. However, the majority took more than one attempt before they were successful.
Having someone else look out for you is hugely beneficial in your quest to be smoke-free, as you might be more inclined to stay off cigarettes if you think having one would disappoint someone else.
Speaking with the Mirror, expert Jo Hemmings stated: “It’s very easy to have a ‘clandestine’ cigarette – on your own or in company – when you haven’t let others know that you are serious giving up for good.”
Therefore, smokers are encouraged to tell as many people as possible, so they have support and empathy, as well as the feeling of not wanting to look like a failure in front of others.
The Hold My Light campaign is a good one to get involved in, keeping track of your progress, and giving smokers something to physically do that will distract them from lighting up. By sharing their journey with friends and family, it helps people stay on the right path, enjoying the benefits of their success, and feeling the support of the social community.
- Change routine
While smoking is an addiction for many, quitting can be made even more challenging if it is a huge part of your routine. Therefore, one way to help you to give up is to change your daily habits.
Many people enjoy a smoke with their coffee in the morning or after lunch, so make sure you do, drink or eat something else at these specific times, so you aren’t left craving a cigarette when you’d normally have one.
Distraction plays a huge part here, so if you can create a new routine that doesn’t involve smoking – such as going for a walk after a meal, or making a coffee during a work break – after a while, this will become your new habit.
- Prepare for empty fingers
One of the hardest things smokers have to deal with when they give up cold turkey is the need to have something between their fingers, as they have become used to this after years of holding a cigarette.
While it is easy to advise avoiding anything that may remind you of a cigarette, for the first few days or weeks, it might actually be beneficial to find a replacement object to hold, instead of ignoring the need to play with something.
Pharmacist at Chemist Click, Abbas Kanani told NetDoctor said holding something that is in the shape of a cigarette, such as a straw, could help.
“Inhaling on the straw gives you the same hand-to-mouth action you’re used to, tricking your mind into thinking you’re smoking,” he stated.
Other options as well as straws could be carrots and cucumbers cut into sticks, or pens. However, you might not want to suck on the latter, even if you feel the urge to!
There are a huge number of benefits of exercising – from encouraging weight loss to improving heart health. However, it is also a useful tool when it comes to helping smokers quit cigarettes.
For many people who have smoked for several years, the thought of going for a jog can feel terrifying, as they may get breathless simply walking up the stairs. However, the more you take part in physical activity, the more your lung health will improve, and you might be surprised how little time it takes for you to be able to go for a run without gasping for air.
Getting fit is not just about trying to undo the toll smoking has had on your body, but it is also a great distraction technique. Taking part in an exercise class, going for a jog, or joining a local running group all takes up time that you might otherwise spend smoking or, at least, thinking about it. By simply doing something else, you take away that urge to light up and give yourself something else to focus on.
In addition to this, exercise releases endorphins, which is the same feel-good hormones that smokers get from cigarettes, so you can almost enjoy the same effect from hitting the treadmill as you can from having a smoke.
These endorphins are known to reduce the feeling of wanting to light up, with Steve Clarke, a specialist in the psychology of addictive behaviours telling NWE Mail that: “Studies have found that even a small amount of exercise, such as a five-minute walk or a stretch, can cut cravings.”
Many ex-smokers also relish in their improving fitness, and are motivated to keep clear of cigarettes so they do not end up undoing all their hard work to get stronger and leaner by smoking again.
Mr Kanani added: “As you find yourself getting fitter and stronger with exercise, it’ll also give you the motivation to want to better yourself and become healthier.”
E-cigarettes are a well-known smoking cessation tool, helping addicts to give up their habit by developing a new one that allows them to enjoy nicotine hit without the harsh effects of tobacco.
According to a recent study by scientists at Queen Mary University of London, 18 per cent of those who switched from cigarettes to vapers were no longer smoking, compared with ten per cent of those who tried other replacement therapies, such as patches, lozenges, spray or gum.
The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded: “E-cigarettes were more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy.”
This coincides with advice from Public Health England (PHE), which even goes so far as to suggest e-cigarettes should be available on prescription, as they are helping at least 20,000 people a year quit smoking.
As well as offering ex-smokers the same release they used to experience when smoking, using an e-cigarette allows them to maintain their old habits, such as a puff after dinner and holding something in their hands, while still steering clear of tobacco.
For a starter vaping kit to help you with your smoke-free journey, get in touch with us today.