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Respiratory Health 2019

How to quit smoking: tips from the British Lung Foundation

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Rachael Hodges

Senior Policy Officer, British Lung Foundation

It’s never too late to give up smoking no matter how long you’ve smoked for. But what’s the best way to quit? Rachael Hodges, senior policy officer at the British Lung Foundation, runs through her top tips for helping you quit.

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your lung health and it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to quit no matter how long you’ve smoked for.

Ask for help and support to stop smoking

We know how hard it can be to stop smoking. It can take many attempts to quit, which is why we’d recommend people speak to their GP, pharmacist or local stop smoking service for support, and to chat through the different quitting options. Research shows you’re around three times more likely to stop successfully if you combine treatment with stop smoking support.

Find what works for you

What helps one person quit smoking may not be what works for you. That’s why it’s really important smokers have access to a menu of options to help them quit. If you try one way and it doesn’t work – don’t give up! There are lots of others to try.

Don’t worry if it takes a few attempts – it’s about finding the best way to quit for you.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches, gums and lozenges can help you to overcome the urges to smoke. You can get these products on prescription or over the counter from a pharmacy. For most people the best approach is to combine two types of NRT. Usually this means a patch to provide a background level of nicotine and a faster-acting product, such as a gum, to use when you get cravings. People generally use the products for 8-12 weeks before you gradually reduce the dose and stop.

Medication for stopping smoking

You could also try stop smoking medications. Two are available on the NHS: varenicline and bupropion. Both can double your chances of stopping.

Switching to an e-cigarette to help you quit is another option. A recent clinical trial led by Queen Mary University of London showed e-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as NRT, at helping smokers to quit alongside getting support from a stop smoking adviser.

If you do use an e-cigarette, make sure you buy a regulated product and speak with your local stop smoking service who can give you advice on which product may work best for you. We’d also encourage anyone using e-cigarettes as a quitting tool to reduce the nicotine they vape and then stop when the time feels right, and you won’t go back to cigarettes.  

You can do it!

Don’t worry if it takes a few attempts – it’s about finding the best way to quit for you. We’d recommend picking a date to stop, making a plan, asking friends and family for support and speaking to a healthcare professional for advice.

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