Quitting smoking is one of the toughest challenges a person can face in their life. As a working GP, patients commonly attend to seek advice with regard to tips to help them quit smoking. GPs are trained to help people quit smoking, and can advise you on the most suitable methods to use. You’re up to four times more likely to give up smoking with help from a healthcare professional than going it alone. 

Despite the fact that smoking is well known to cause harm to many parts of our body, it remains a very difficult habit to break. Even social smokers who may only smoke one or two evenings a week should not consider themselves safe; the social smoker is vulnerable to the same harmful health effects as a regular smoker. There is no safe lower intake of cigarettes.
So what top tips can we give to help patients quit?
1. The most important factor is to pick the correct time to quit. Quitting is a challenge and can be stressful in itself; therefore, to give yourself the best chance, pick a time when life is calm and you are not dealing with a lot of stress anyway. So, if you’ve just received bad news or you’re moving house, wait until things have settled down.
Where are you in the cycle of change?
Pre-contemplation: You think smoking is not a problem
Contemplation: You identify smoking as a problem
Preparation: You seek out information, support and alternatives to smoking
Action: You are quitting 
2. Don’t put it off forever! Pick a date (e.g. your birthday, LENT, a holiday, World No Tobacco Day –May 31st) and work towards that date as the day you smoke your last cigarette.
3. Tell your family and friends that you are quitting, and ask them to support you.
4. Join an online forum to help you quit – just because your real friends aren’t quitting, doesn’t mean you can’t get support from others who are quitting.
5. Prior to quitting, change your smoking habits; stop smoking your favourite cigarette well in advance of your quit date. Perhaps it’s the first one in the morning, your 11 o’clock break or maybe your after-dinner cigarette – this is the one you’ll miss most when you quit, so stop it before your quit date. Try and change the pattern of your smoking – for a few weeks prior to quitting, smoke somewhere you normally wouldn’t, e.g. the garden shed. This will help break the psychological association you have with smoking in familiar places.
6. Get rid of all smoking reminders. Throw away all your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, matches – everything you associate with smoking (except perhaps your husband…)
7. Keep a key motivator close to hand – maybe a picture of your kids (73% of children worry that their mum or dad will die because they smoke). When you get a craving, take out the picture and remember why you are quitting. Maybe a video of your partner or kids encouraging you to quit on your phone will help beat those cravings.
8. As you are quitting, your fitness level will improve. Whether you are walking, running or swimming, monitor your fitness and you’ll notice the improvement.

9. Don’t let a slip-up become a mudslide. A lapse can happen to the most dedicated of quitters and isn’t the end of the quit; it’s merely part of the process, and you need to identify the trigger for the slip-up and start again.
10. Keep in mind all the added benefits to your life: you will save money, you will feel fitter and healthier, you will no longer smell of smoke, you will have whiter teeth and clearer skin, and above all you will be a better role model for your children.
Good luck with your journey to become nicotine-free. Next month, I’ll look at tips to help you beat the craving for a cigarette and what advice your GP may give you relating to nicotine replacement therapy, champix tablets and electronic cigarettes.  

Damage caused by smoking
  • many cancers
  • lung conditions
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • gangrene
  • decreased fertility
  • poor dental health
  • damage to skin
  • increased infections
General Practitioner