Staying smokefree

Why is it that some people who have stopped return to smoking?

The main reason is giving in to cravings. These are powerful urges to smoke, often triggered by stress, seeing other people smoking, getting drunk or emotional events such as arguments.

The best way to withstand cravings is a combination of stop smoking medicines and behavioural changes.

It’s also important to try and distance yourself from people who smoke. Nearly three quarters of all people who relapse do so because they are with other people who are smoking – and this is usually after having asked one of them for a cigarette.

Get practical advice on how to cope with cravings.

If you do give in to the cravings, do not throw in the towel. Find out more about what to do if you start smoking again.

Now you have quit smoking it’s important to stay focused on remaining smoke free. Here are some tried and tested hints and tips that we’ve collected from the many people who have quit with NHS Warwickshire Stop Smoking Service.

  • Keep busy! The busier you are the less time you have to think about cigarettes. How about taking up a new hobby?
  • Continue using nicotine replacement products like nicotine gum or lozenges if you feel any cravings for a cigarette.
  • Get active - exercise (even a short walk) is proven to reduce cravings for a cigarette.
  • Write down the reasons you quit and the benefits you are getting from quitting and keep it handy as a constant reminder of all the good things you are getting from quitting - this can strengthen your resolve.
  • Write a list of things you can do instead of smoking - and do them!
  • If you know you are going into a situation where there is a high risk of you smoking work out a plan how you will deal with this beforehand.
  • Phone friends or family who can offer you support to stay positive and motivated.
  • Further ideas and information - NHS smokefree.

If you want to stop smoking we can make it much easier by providing the right information, advice and support. Studies show that you’re four times more likely to quit with help from a stop smoking adviser.

Contact Warwickshire Stop Smoking Service on 080 0085 2917 and speak to one of our friendly advisors about how you can stay stopped.

Common issues/fears about staying smoke free and some solutions

Issue - I’ll just have one cigarette

Solution - when it comes to stopping smoking, there is no such thing as just one cigarette. They travel in packs and chances are you’ll be back to being a full time smoker. If you do slip up and have one cigarette don’t think: “I’ve blown it!”.

Don’t forget that you got through several days, perhaps even weeks or months, without a cigarette. This shows that you don’t need cigarettes and that you can stay quit. Know your weaknesses and be prepared in case a similar situation arises. Don’t give up giving up!

Issue - I’m under a lot of stress, and smoking relaxes me

Solution - in reality nicotine is a stimulant; it raises your heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline level. Evidence shows that smokers have higher levels of stress than non-smokers. If you feel stressed talking things through, relaxation and physical activity can help.

Self help books are available or you can get help from the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)  service on  084 5521 6100.

Fear - I’m worried about gaining weight

Solution - perhaps now you’ve tackled smoking you can start an exercise regime. You could join a local sports club or get out walking. Even if you have an underlying health condition such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, COPD or have a disability there is always something you can do.

Warwickshire has an ‘exercise referral scheme’ especially for people with medical conditions or disabilities to help you exercise effectively and safely. To be referred ask your GP or Stop Smoking Advisor to refer you. If you want to eat more healthily look at groups such as Weight WatchersSlimming World, or contact the Health Trainer Service (Nuneaton and Bedworth area only) who will help you manage your weight. More information on health and wellbeing services.

Issue - sometimes I have an almost irresistible urge to have a cigarette

Solution - sometimes urges will come at times when you smoked before, such as when you’re drinking coffee or alcohol or are at a party where other people are smoking. These are high risk situations, and you should plan how you will not smoke in these situations.

Visualise in advance how you’ll handle the desire for a cigarette if it arises. You could use nicotine replacement products during these occasions. Perhaps buy a packet of nicotine gum or lozenges and have one or two if you are struggling. Even if you finished your nicotine replacement products (or other medication such as Champix) months or years ago, having some nicotine replacement products in your handbag or wallet as an emergency is a good idea.

Issue - I’m bored!

Solution - many people smoke when they are bored, sometimes it’s just something to do. Write a list of at least 10 things to do instead of smoking, things to keep you busy so your mind doesn’t wander onto smoking. Ideas might be:

  • knitting
  • housework
  • DIY
  • crosswords
  • learn a new skill
  • use the internet
  • jigsaw puzzle
  • exercise
  • learn a language
  • sign up to a college course
  • go for a walk
  • gardening
  • phone someone you’ve not spoken to in a while
  • cook
  • do voluntary work 

The choice is yours! Those who don’t work and don’t have hobbies tend to smoke more than those who work full time and have interests. How will you keep busy?

So now it's up to you!

Congratulations! You’ve done so much hard work in stopping, so we truly hope you stay smokefree. If, however, you are worried about going back to smoking please do feel free to contact the Warwickshire Stop Smoking Service.