No Smoking Day 2022: Learn How to Kick the Habit This Year

8th March 2022

National No Smoking Day takes place annually, and this year it falls on Wednesday 9th March. Each year, No Smoking Day has a different theme to encourage people to stop smoking. This year, the theme is Quit Your Way. The theme focuses on encouraging you to make use of one or more of the available tools or medications that will make it easier for you to quit. 

Why is it Hard to Quit Smoking?

You’ll already know that smoking is bad for both your health and your wallet. But if smoking is bad for you, why can’t you just give it up? The answer is nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance that causes you to crave another cigarette, despite any sensible thoughts that you might have about quitting. 

Because of cigarettes’ addictive nature, making the decision to stop smoking may not come easily. However, the benefits of quitting are far-reaching:

  • 20 minutes after you decide to quit, your heart rate will return to normal
  • Within 8 hours the oxygen levels in your blood will return to normal
  • In 72 hours, you will have more energy and your breathing will feel easier
  • In the first few weeks, your circulation will improve making it easier to walk or exercise
  • In 5 years, your risk of having a heart attack is half that of a smoker.

If you want to experience the benefits of being a non-smoker and are ready to quit, you will need plenty of willpower. However, some changes to your habits and certain medications can greatly improve your chances of succeeding.

Set a Date

It is best to quit smoking when you feel ready and are prepared. Quitting on a whim may make it more difficult to resist a cigarette. Choose a date when you want to stop, and then make the necessary preparations to give up. This might include removing all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters from the house, car and office, so that you are less tempted to give in to your cravings. 

You will also need to consider how you are going to stop. As part of this year’s theme, Quit Your Way, it is wise to understand the various smoking cessation aids and methods that could help you kick the habit for good.

Going Solo

Trying to stop smoking without medications or emotional support is possible, but it can be very difficult. Going ‘cold turkey’ requires plenty of willpower, as nicotine is a very addictive substance. If you have already tried to give up cigarettes by going cold turkey, but gave in to strong cravings, you may now be looking for a way to try again with some additional support.

Nicotine Replacement

Nicotine replacement therapies are one of the most commonly recognised ways to stop smoking. Available as gum, patches, mouth sprays, nasal sprays, inhalators or lozenges, nicotine replacement products give your body the nicotine you need to satisfy a craving. This may help to reduce any anxiety, restlessness or irritability you feel at trying to quit smoking. 

Crucially, these products don’t contain the nasty chemicals that cigarettes do. This allows you to replace the nicotine when you need to, before gradually reducing the replacement product until you no longer need it. The current evidence is that all forms of nicotine replacement increase your chances of successfully stopping smoking.

Some forms of nicotine replacement are designed to be started before your quit date. Pre-Quit NiQuitin is designed to be used for 2 to 4 weeks before you quit for good. This may make it feel easier to stick to your stop date, increasing your chance of success.

Champix

When you smoke, nicotine binds to receptors in the brain to give you a pleasurable, relaxing feeling. Champix contains the medication varenicline which mimics nicotine. It stimulates the same receptors that nicotine would normally bind to, helping you to avoid cravings and feelings of withdrawal. Champix also works to reduce the pleasure that you get from smoking, making it feel easier to resist a cigarette.

Champix is a treatment that you should begin taking one week before your quit date. This allows it to get to work on the receptors in your brain, so that when you do stop smoking, it doesn’t feel like such a shock. To aid success, you should take Champix for around three months.

Zyban

Zyban is a medication that helps to reduce withdrawal, irritability and anxiety associated with stopping smoking. It contains the drug bupropion which encourages the release of neurotransmitters in the brain to help you feel more relaxed about not having a cigarette.

Like Champix, you begin taking Zyban before your quit date, and then continue taking it for several weeks to give yourself the best chance of quitting. Will power and determination are still required to successfully quit smoking.

Behavioural Changes

If you don’t want to go cold turkey, but would rather not go it alone, you could consider having behavioural therapy or hypnotherapy.

Behavioural Therapy

You can make changes to your smoking behaviours with the support of family, friends or a counsellor. This often involves learning what your triggers for smoking are, such as:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Social events
  • Chatting on the phone
  • Driving
  • Drinking coffee or alcohol
  • After eating
  • Watching TV.

If you can identify your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them or do something rather than smoke. For example, when chatting on the phone you could distract yourself by doing a puzzle or another creative activity. Rather than smoking after a meal, you could go for a walk.

Behavioural therapy can also be used in conjunction with nicotine replacement or smoking cessation treatments to aid success.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy aims to convince you to stop smoking. Hypnotherapy techniques may rely on trying to convince you that smoking is poisoning your body, or prompting you to imagine that smoking will leave your mouth completely dry. You may become convinced that cigarette smoke smells like a car exhaust. Using off-putting imagery is thought to reduce the urge to smoke. 

There is limited evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy can offer success in helping you to quit smoking. However, if you feel that meeting a hypnotherapist or using a hypnotherapy podcast or online tool will help, then this positive mental attitude may boost your drive to quit for good. 

Final Thoughts

Many smokers want to quit, but the addictive nature of nicotine can make this challenging. Most people require a combination of behavioural modifications alongside smoking cessation treatments to break the habit. 

With a focus on Quit Your Way for National No Smoking Day this year, take a look at UK Meds’ range of medications and smoking cessation aids that could help you make 2022 the year you quit for good.