Those who finally decide to give up smoking, are facing an important moment of change. Turning off the last cigarette is not easy, because smoking is a real addiction. But with the right motivation and adequate support everyone can do it.
Among the young people the habit of smoking is growing, and among the heavy smokers “under twenty” the athletes are the highest percentage. E-cigarettes and heated tobacco are mostly consumed along with traditional cigarettes, and 5% of those who use electronic cigarettes have never smoked before. Among the main causes of preventable death in the world, it is estimated that only by abolishing the use of tobacco, about 6 million deaths could be avoided worldwide each year; in Italy it is estimated that smoking-related deaths go from 70,000 to 83,000 each year.
But how can we put a stop to this dependency? Quitting smoking alone is possible: the most recent ISTAT data indicate that 90% of ex-smokers quit without help, but tried several times. We have therefore decided to draw up a guide with the most effective advice and suggestions that will help you succeed in this difficult, but fundamental challenge.
What to know
Remember that the first 24 hours from the last cigarette are the most difficult to overcome, and in the first 4 days the withdrawal symptoms are more intense. The urgent desire of a cigarette, however, lasts only a few minutes and you can adopt different strategies to distract you. It is also good to remember that relapses are part of the path of change and must not discourage, but can be useful to learn about and so as to better face the critical moments.
Tricks and tips to quit smoking
- Choose the right time! To be more likely to succeed, do not try to stop all of a sudden, but choose a condition of reduced emotional stress, taking into account work and social commitments. Holidays, for example, are a great time to decide to quit smoking.
- Try to understand the reasons why you want to stop smoking. Make a written list; putting it in plain sight and rereading it in the most difficult moments will help you not to lose your motivation.
- Identify the reasons that lead you to smoke. The desire to light a cigarette is not constant, and can be caused by people, places, things or situations. It is therefore important to try to foresee the situations that induce you to smoke and to think about how to overcome them. At the beginning it is better to avoid them completely, but with a little time without cigarettes, you will be able to find other ways to manage risky situations.
- Contrast abstinence. The nicotine is responsible for the dependence on cigarettes but it is also a water-soluble substance. At least two litres of drinking water per day, will help detoxify the body of the substance that makes you a slave, reducing the abstinence syndrome.
- Avoid strong flavours. Very pronounced flavours such as alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods stimulate the desire of the smoker.
- Change habits. Every smoker has moments closely connected to smoking during the day, such as the classic cigarette after coffee. Eliminate these moments, trying to interrupt those mechanisms that unconsciously bring your hands to the packet and the lighter. Moreover, the urge to smoke usually lasts for 5-10 minutes: take a walk, chat with someone, chew a gum or a sugar-free candy, so as to distract you and not risk falling into temptation.
- The nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Therefore, quitting smoking, you can gain weight even if just a few kilos. However not everyone gets fat, but if you don’t want to risk, it will be enough to gradually change your eating habits, reducing the amount of food per meal, consuming 3 light meals and two healthy snacks a day, increasing physical activity and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Clean the house. Eliminate all the objects that in some way can remind you of smoking, starting from the ashtrays and any packets that may have remained available. Then, refresh the air with a perfume, a burning essence or a beautiful bouquet of flowers .
- Talk to those around you. Quitting smoking is an important time for your health as it is for your loved ones. Make friends and relatives participate in the goal you have set yourself, of the difficulties you encounter and ask for help when you feel insecure: they will help you overcome difficult times and keep the right direction.
- Reward yourself when you reach a goal. Quitting smoking is not easy, so be proud of your achievements! Celebrate the first smoke-free day, the first week and the first month. Plan ahead goals and prizes, like a nice movie night (where, incidentally, smoking is forbidden!).
Don’t you want to do it all by yourself? Here’s who you can turn to
Quitting smoking is difficult, especially in the first few weeks, and nothing prevents you from wanting more help. Moreover, science has shown that the more support one receives, the greater the probability of quitting smoking permanently. You can contact:
- the family doctor and the Anti-Smoking Centers;
- quit smoking apps – they help you prepare, stay firm in your decision and keep track of your progress;
- drugs – therapy with nicotine substitutes, such as Bupropion, Varenicline and Cytisine, helps smokers to stop and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. If you use a smoking cessation drug or cigarette replacement product, such as patches, chewing gum or tablets, try to keep them always at hand;
- psychological support of specialised operators – whether in a doctor’s office, or through dedicated telephone lines, this type of help facilitates the decision to change and strengthens one’s motivations;
- help groups – thanks to the sharing of problems and motivations with other smokers, group therapies can be a very valid aid. Ask your primary care physician to report active aid groups in your area.