The New Year is fast approaching, and many will make it their 2023 resolution to quit smoking. But giving up cigarettes is no easy task, so it may be more effective to “cut down to quit” or try nicotine replacements instead of going cold turkey.
Going cold turkey on any habit, whether cutting out certain foods or quitting smoking, can often resort to reverting to your old ways. A more effective method for some is to ease out of a habit you wish to break as a natural way to quit for good.
In January 2022 alone, UK Google searches for “quitting smoking” were over double (+58%) compared to the average monthly searches from February 2022 to November 2022.
This means that smokers will often quit cigarettes through unsustainable methods, and the desire to quit smoking fades throughout the year until the next peak the following January.
With all of this in mind, here are some recommended ways to increase your chances of successfully quitting smoking.
Cut down to quit
Unless a health professional has told you to quit smoking immediately due to health implications, going cold turkey isn’t always the most successful method of breaking an unhealthy habit.
Although it may work for some, habits are hard to break when practised every day, so if you are a daily smoker, the best thing for you to do may be to gradually reduce your daily intake.
Set realistic targets; if you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, perhaps cut down by one cigarette each day until you feel comfortable enough to stop. Combatting unhealthy habits is a marathon, not a sprint.
Find a nicotine replacement
In recent years, more and more nicotine replacements have been available, such as reusable e-cigarettes, disposable vapes, nicotine patches and gums – meaning many smokers are now finding it easier to cut out cigarettes for good.
There are now an estimated 4.3 million vapers in the UK as more people seek a healthier alternative to cigarettes. E-cigarettes are a much healthier way to consume nicotine without the damaging health effects of smoking. They do not produce carbon monoxide or tar, two of the most harmful elements of tobacco smoke.
There are nicotine-free options also available in the form of disposable vape pens and e-liquids so that vapers can still enjoy the motions of vaping without the nicotine.
Several nicotine replacement therapies come in various forms, such as patches, gums, and inhalers – all of which give you a hit of nicotine as a substitute for a cigarette. According to the NHS, it works by providing a lower level of nicotine to your body without any of the other poisonous chemicals that come with smoking
Identify your triggers
Certain things can trigger nicotine cravings, particularly around Christmas, so it’s best to identify these to work your way around them. This means you can avoid them once you’ve quit or work out how to conquer your cravings during any triggers to make your chances of remaining a non-smoker more likely.
Triggers can differ for each individual, so it’s best to devise a plan that will work for you. For example, alcohol is a common trigger for cigarette cravings, particularly over Christmas, as alcohol consumption may increase. You could use an e-cigarette to satisfy your cravings or come prepared with nicotine patches or gum.
Come up with a plan
A quitting smoking plan addresses both the short-term challenge of stopping smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse. It should also be tailored to your specific needs and smoking habits.
A useful technique is to use the START technique
Set a quit date
Choose a date as soon as possible, but give yourself enough time to prepare without losing the motivation to quit. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend so you have a few days to adjust to the change.
Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit
Let your friends and family in on your plan to quit smoking, and tell them you need their support and encouragement to stop. Look for a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking, as you can help each other through the potential challenges.
Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting
Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first three months of attempting to quit. You can help yourself stay on track by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings. Find a method that works for you, such as vaping or nicotine replacements, and always have them on hand to avoid reverting to old habits.
Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work
Dispose of your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture, so you aren’t constantly reminded of the smell.
Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal symptoms. If you can’t see a doctor, you can get many products over the counter at your local pharmacy, including nicotine patches, lozenges, gum, and disposable vapes.