Today, 8th March is National No Smoking Day 2017, so we’ve decided to try and help those of you who are thinking about quitting with some tips and advice. So forget that “one last cigarette” and join us to find out the best way for you to give up those fags for good
As a lifetime non-smoker, writing an article on No Smoking Day does seem a little bit cheeky but, having parents who smoked heavily for the best part of 50 years before giving up I do feel slightly qualified so here goes!
As a teenager and as an adult I nagged my parents to stop smoking. But as my parents would say, the only time quitting will work is when you yourself want to give up. No amount of scaremongering will make you do it.
I don’t really have to tell you about the dangers of smoking, everyone should be aware of them by now. The main problem of course is the health problems linked to smoking. These of course are many and varied, ranging from wrinkles to heart disease. If you do want a list of the health dangers check out the ‘Health Problems from Smoking’ page on the Stop Smoking Wales website.
Smoking can also have a hugely detrimental effect on your finances. If you’re brave enough you could take a look at the smoking calculator on the Stop Smoking Wales website to see how much you’ve spent.
The benefits of quitting smoking are of course huge. Some of them are even almost instantaneous. Stop Smoking Wales have produced this eye opening timeline:
- 8 hours – Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by half. Oxygen levels return to normal.
- 24 hours – Carbon monoxide will be eliminated from the body; lungs start to clear of mucus and other smoking debris.
- 48 hours – There is no nicotine left in the body and ability to taste and smell is greatly improved.
- 72 hours – Breathing becomes easier. Bronchial tubes begin to relax and energy levels increase.
- 2-12 weeks – Circulation improves.
- 3-9 months – Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function is increased by up to 10%.
- 1 year – Risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker
- 10 years – Risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
- 15 years – Risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked
The financial benefits are also not to be sniffed at (all costs are approximate).
- Smoking 5 a day over a year costs £836 – That’s a nice summer holiday to me.
- If you smoked 10 a day for a month that would be £137 – That could be a nice new pair of boots… every month!
- Smoking 30 a day for a week costs a staggering £96 – that’s the average weekly food shop for a family of four.
- But get this – £66,868 – this is the amount of money spent if smoking 40 a day over 10 years. MIND BLOWING! In some areas of Wales you could buy a house, in full, for that price.
If I’ve convinced you that it’s a good idea to stop smoking with those facts you’ll need to know how to do it.
A quitting story
Jenny was a heavy smoker, smoking 40 a day up until two years ago. Here’s how she managed to quit.
“I downloaded a free app called My Last Cigarette. It provided me with daily tips and made personalised calculations based on my habits. There were easy to read graphs and gratefully received words of encouragement as well as statistics relating to the estimated recovery of my lung tissue, the amount of cyanide in my system and the amount of money I could have saved by not smoking from the point I started,” said Jenny.
“If you love smoking, as I did, you need all the encouragement you can get! I went cold turkey for a week, then tried patches, inhalators and a mouth spray (all free on prescription), I attended a few sessions of a Stop Smoking Wales smoking cessation group (not for me) led by a specialist nurse. ”
10 steps to stop smoking
You’re not alone. Many thousands of people choose No Smoking Day as their first day to quit (a bit like New Year’s Resolutions). But it’s not important when you do it, just the fact that you are. So here are some handy hints from the British Heart Foundation. Check out their website for more advice, information and support.
- Pick a date to stop smoking. Choose a day that will be stress-free, and stick to it.
- Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. Keep the list handy and read it when the cravings start, you could put it on your phone so it’s always at hand.
- Pair up with someone else who’s looking to give up smoking and support each other. SUPPORT IS VITAL!
- Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and matches, and any remaining cigarettes.
- Contact Stop Smoking Wales to find about about services and support from trained specialists local to you. Call: 0800 085 2219 or visit their website.
- Consider using nicotine replacement therapy, which can more than double your chances of stopping. Read about e-cigarettes and whether they can help. There are also prescribed courses of medication such as Champix that reduce the cravings, requiring you to cut down over an agreed period before cutting out cigarettes entirely.
- Start exercising. Scientific studies show that a five minute walk or stretch can cut the urge to smoke and may even help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise.
- Avoid stress or trigger situations. If you smoke after a meal go for a short walk instead. This isn’t easy; even after 10 years of stopping my parents still fancy a cigarette when out for a few drinks. But it is definitely do-able, because they never do!
- Practise saying ‘no’. Don’t be tempted by just one cigarette; it often leads to another. Don’t be peer pressured into smoking. Tell everyone that you need their support.
- Treat yourself with the money you would have spent on cigarettes. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of something that you can’t afford right now. I know I can!
So there you go. Good luck to you. If you do manage to stop smoking but then fall off the wagon, remember that tomorrow is another day. Just stop again! You’ve got so much to gain 🙂
If you feel you need to talk to someone about this issue or any other problems your family is having then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.
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