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Smoking - Top Tips to quit!

Published: 29 May 2018 Tags: Health, Smoking By James Harris

In recognition of World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2018), we have compiled here a few useful tips on how best to face the challenge of quitting The Habit.

According to the Proud 2B Smokefree project, “25.3% of people who describe themselves as either gay or lesbian are smokers, compared to 18.4% of individuals who describe themselves as heterosexual.” Additional data suggests that bisexual and transgender communities are also more likely to smoke.

Considering that members of the LGBT community are more prone to stress, anxiety and depression, it’s no surprise that, as a group, we are more likely to self-medicate using cigarettes. Hence – though the need to quit is urgent for any smoker – smoking is a particularly serious problem within the LGBT community.

1) Choose your moment: ideally other pressures and commitments will be at a minimum, because additional stress/demands will only make the cravings stronger, and make you more likely to fail.

2) Take it seriously: Quite often people attempt to quit, but deep down don’t fully intend to commit long-term. We convince ourselves that merely trying is good enough, and short-term abstinence becomes little more than an excuse to temporarily unburden ourselves from the pressure to stop smoking permanently.

3) Don’t be defeated by setbacks: succumbing to temptation that one time doesn’t undo all your hard work up to that point; don’t see a temporary weakness as an excuse to abandon your attempt altogether. In short don’t give up giving up.

4) Buddy up with a friend: benefit from their sympathetic support.

5) Contact your local NHS Stop Smoking Service: trained advisers are available to help. Your local pharmacy can also give free advice.

6) Develop better coping mechanisms: A reliance on smoking often means that healthier coping mechanisms have been neglected, hence why smokers feel so vulnerable when quitting. Learn from your non-smoking friends; how do they deal with stressful situations? Their ability to cope with the difficulties of life without smoking proves that you can too.

7) Believe in your reasons for quitting: if you’re only attempting to quit because someone else is pressuring you to, or out of guilt or shame, you are probably going to fall back into bad habits quite easily. Negative push factors alone may not be enough to sustain motivation, and feeling bad about yourself will only make you want to smoke more! Meaningful positive pull factors will help keep you on track, especially when your will to quit wavers and you’re tempted to start smoking again. A few examples:
- Improved health/vitality
- More money (treat yo’self)
- Feeling better about yourself for taking control
- Improved chances of a longer life and all the advantages that entails
- Loss of loved ones to smoking related diseases might motivate you to ensure the same doesn’t happen to you
- Others close to you will benefit too; envision their happiness with your success and pride in your achievement.

8) Take inspiration from others: Giving up smoking needn’t be a daunting prospect; it can be easier for some than it is for others. For example, my dad's first attempt failed within a week, but the next time he found it effortless and never looked back. According to those who manage to quit, the hard work is worth it.

9) Alternatives: Stop smoking medicines are available to cope with withdrawal symptoms, such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy or Medication. The safety of E-cigarettes is subject to ongoing study, but the current consensus appears to be that, whilst vaping may not be entirely harmless (only long-term studies can ascertain precisely how safe they are) it is nevertheless still a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes.

10) Keep as much of the routine as possible: Sometimes the aspects of smoking missed the most might be, for example, the opportunity to venture outside the office for a break; the relief we feel might have less to do with the cigarette than we think.

11) Resolve the root causes: Quite often, smoking only soothes the symptoms of deeper anxiety-related issues that need addressing. Seek counselling or similar therapy if you feel you might benefit.

12) Avoid tempting situations: minimise your exposure to stressful situations, warn your friends not to tempt you on a night out!

13) If all else fails, live underwater: Lighters don’t work underwater.

Good Luck!