Everyone knows that smoking is awful for your health.
Research shows that half of smokers die because of diseases related to their addiction, and the habit accounts for 5.5 million deaths across the world every year.
But it’s also incredibly addictive – so how do you shake the habit? Luckily, the Mirror Online has shared some of the best ways you can kick the habit.
1. Go cold turkey
This is a tough but effective approach. Recent studies have shown that those who stop abruptly are 25% more likely to succeed than those who try to wean themselves off gradually.
If you decide to go cold turkey, pick a date and stick to it. Make sure you choose a time when your calendar isn’t packed with boozy social events or during a stressful time at work.
Live by the ‘not a single puff’ rule. Repeat the mantra, ‘Not even a single drag,’ until the craving passes. A craving usually lasts around five minutes, so make a list of five-minute distraction strategies to tide you over when it strikes.
2. Patches, gum and lozenges
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) works by delivering a hit of nicotine through other means to help curb your cigarette cravings, as you get used to life without lighting up. Nowadays NRT is available in many forms – patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers – and the good news is it’s available on the NHS.
Studies show that using NRT can double your chances of quitting, but it does come with a downside: repeated exposure can cause neuro-adaptation that increases nicotine addiction.
Nicotine alone is significantly less harmful than the tar and carbon monoxide found in cigarettes, so NRT is much safer than smoking. But in order to avoid trading one addiction for another, it’s important to avoid using NRT for an extended length of time.
E-cigarettes are available in all sorts of designs and flavours, so it’s easy to see why 2.9 million Brits are hooked on them – but the debate about their safety rages on.
Keeping your hands busy while being devoid of tar, carbon monoxide and other nasties found in cigarettes means they’re often deemed a safer alternative (the NHS says e-cigs are ‘not risk free, but carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes’).
However, several studies have indicated that vaping may cause cellular mutations that can lead to cancer. Because it’s so new, there’s a lack of conclusive evidence, so vape with caution.
It might sound a bit ‘out there’, but hypnotherapy has helped thousands to quit. In fact, in a study of 6,000 smokers, it was found to be the method with the highest success rate.
“It only takes a few days for the nicotine to leave your body, so what you’re left with is a psychological craving,” says hypnotherapist Brian Jacobs. “Hypnosis addresses the craving while in a deep state of relaxation.”
Hypnosis doesn’t come cheap, but individual doctors may prescribe it, so it might be worth asking if it could be for you.
5. Play Tetris
Playing the video puzzle game Tetris for three minutes can stave off a cigarette craving, according to research from Plymouth University.
The study, published in the scientific journal Appetite, says it helps provide a distraction from a craving, which normally lasts for only a few minutes before passing.
6. Ditch coffee for herbal tea
Nicotine “withdrawal” can make you feel jittery. But stimulants like caffeine in coffee can make your anxiety worse.
What’s more, one study found that coffee actually makes cigarettes taste better!
7. Look at your diet
We all know that food plays a role in cravings. A US study showed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying.
So change it up. Cheese, fruit and vegetables make cigarettes taste terrible. Swap the burger for a veggie one and you won’t like the taste of that cigarette.
Change your routine too and after a meal get moving so you’re distracted.