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What is the best way to quit smoking?

Quitting smoking can seem like a daunting task. You may have even tried before, only to take it up again a few weeks later. Cravings are difficult to ignore, and sometimes changing a habit can seem impossible.

There’s no “right answer” for the best way to quit smoking – everyone is different, and different methods help different people.

There are a number of things you can do to assist you in your journey to being smoke-free.

Use a Stop-Smoking Aid

Stop-smoking aids are designed to help wean you off cigarettes when you find that willpower is not enough. Using a stop-smoking aid is shown to improve your chances of quitting for good.

There are 3 types of aids:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
  • E-cigarettes
  • Prescription tablets

NRTs include nicotine gum, patches, nasal sprays and inhalers to help you with your nicotine cravings. They can be purchased at your local pharmacy or prescribed by your GP.

E-cigarettes, also known as vaping, allows the smoker to breathe in nicotine in vapour rather than smoke. It also helps quitters by allowing them to feel the familiar sensation and habit of hand-to-mouth smoking. While not totally risk-free, they are much better for you than a cigarette – the NHS claims they are up to 95% less harmful.

Prescription drugs include Champix or Zyban. They can help reduce your cravings, and also reduce the effects of a cigarette if you have one. They need to be taken two weeks before quitting, and a further 10 weeks after.

Try Yoga

Yoga will not only help your body become fitter (5 minutes of exercise has been shown to cut cravings), but it also incorporates breathing techniques that will help you manage the stresses of quitting.

Read more: What does smoking do to your body?

The breathing exercises will also help to clear your lungs as the body heals. Mindfulness and meditation will help give you the mental strength to persist.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re going to a place where your cravings may be worse (such as a party), make an escape/avoidance plan. Don’t be tempted for “just one drag”; instead try to avoid unwanted situations and don’t put yourself in a position where your willpower could falter.

Talking to your smoking friends and family may help, so they know not to smoke around you.

Join Stoptober

Stoptober, which happens in the month of October, is an excellent time to quit because there are thousands of other people who are also quitting that can support you through this time.

Choose from apps and email support for advice right at your fingertips, and talk to others going through the same thing as you. They can also provide you with a personalised quitting plan of action to keep you on track.

Above all, perseverance and patience are key to quitting. Remember, the health benefits of quitting will more than make up for the difficultly of giving up. There’s plenty of help available to help you quit – speak to your local pharmacy, GP, or visit the NHS website for more information and help.


Authored & Reviewed By

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 17/10/2019 Reviewed on: 09/06/2021
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