The Independent Pharmacy

How Do You Stop Smoking: Guide For First Time Quitters

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 31 Jul 2022

If you’re reading this, then you’re taking the first step towards giving up smoking. Congratulations! Quitting cigarettes is one of the hardest changes someone can make in their life, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. When you give up tobacco, you will start to feel better, be healthier, look younger, and have an increased lifespan. If it’s your first time quitting smoking, then it can feel like a mammoth task. But don’t worry! Read our guide to kicking your nicotine habit and prepare yourself for the smoke-free days, weeks, months, and years ahead of you.

Health benefits of quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is tough, but the benefits are well worth it. These benefits are numerous, and include:

  • Your sense of taste and smell will return, meaning you can enjoy food much more.
  • Your skin will look younger and your teeth will look better.
  • Your breathing will get easier, and your general fitness levels will improve.
  • The risk of having a heart attack, heart disease, or a stroke will decrease.
  • You can enjoy better sex, reducing your chances of erectile dysfunction (if you’re a man) and experiencing arousal more easily (if you’re a woman).

Monetary savings of quitting smoking

Due to the high duty on cigarettes, smoking is an expensive habit. You can use the potential savings as another added incentive to help you quit. If the average pack of 20 cigarettes is priced around £11, the potential savings are:

Smoking 10 per daySmoking 15 per daySmoking 20 per day
Per week £38.50 £57.75 £77.00
Per month £167.29 £250.94 £334.58
Per year £2007.50 £3011.25 £4015.00

As you can see, the savings quickly stack up! It's a great idea to separate this money from your normal current account - either into a separate savings account, or even cash in a jar. That way you can see your progress towards the reward of your choice - new clothes, a holiday, or even a new car!

Start a quit plan

Everyone has their own way of giving up cigarettes. Some people prefer using nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like nicotine patches, gum, nasal spray, or even vaping. But others might find just quitting cold turkey is the best way for them. Do your research and find the quitting plan that would suit your needs best.

Try nicotine replacement therapy

If you decide that you need some help quitting, consider using nicotine replacement therapies to help you. These include nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, or nasal spray. These can be bought over the counter from any pharmacy or supermarket.

Try Champix tablets

If you find nicotine replacement therapies are not enough to stop you smoking, you might find a tablet such as Champix useful. Champix is the brand name of a medication called varenicline, and is one of the most effective ways of giving up cigarettes. Speak to your GP or pharmacist to see if Champix is right for you.

Champix Tablets
Champix Tablets
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Keep yourself busy

When you’re taking the step to kicking nicotine, boredom is your enemy. Now you’re not rolling or lighting a cigarette, you’ll find yourself itching to do something else instead. Invest in a fidget cube to keep your hands busy in idle moments.

And whenever you feel the urge to smoke, do a quick aerobic workout instead. Exercise can help reduce cravings for a smoke up to 50 minutes after your workout and can help reduce the weight increase that some people experience when they quit.

Avoid smoking triggers

Triggers are things that make you want to smoke. They can be certain places, times, or people that trigger your desire to have a cigarette. For example, you might find yourself having a cigarette whenever you’re at the pub, or after having dinner at a restaurant. Identify these triggers before you quit smoking and then try and avoid them in the future.

Keep a positive outlook

If you’re quitting cigarettes for the first time, you might feel as though it’s an impossible task. But it’s important to maintain a positive outlook on your journey to a smoke-free life. Focus on smaller milestones: your first day without cigarettes, your first week, your first month. Keep reminding yourself why you’re giving up smoking, and reward yourself every time you reach a significant milestone.

Join the smoke-free community

You’re not alone in kicking the smoking habit. There are hundreds of thousands of people across the country all trying to give up cigarettes, just like you. Studies have shown you are far more likely to quit when you have the correct support in place. The NHS Smokefree service organises meets across the country of people who are trying to quit as well as face-to-face, telephone, and email advice. There are also plenty of Facebook groups and forums online for you to talk to people are who making the smoke-free journey for support and advice.

Giving up cigarettes might seem difficult, but it’s doable. Making little changes here and there and connecting with others who are also quitting can make stopping smoking for the first time much easier. Speak to our friendly online doctor today for some advice to help you on your journey towards a smoke-free life.

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