Dr Hilary: Top tips for quitting smoking

By Ellyn Peratikou

Dr Hilary Jones is a GP and independent medical adviser. Here, he offers his tips and advice on ways on quitting smoking.

“If you’ve tried to quit smoking before, you’ll know how daunting and challenging it can be,” says Dr Hilary. “Drawing upon psychological will power as well as physical strength, your first step may suffer some setbacks, but if you stay determined you will overcome them and reap the rewards in the long term. Not only will you significantly cut your risk of life threatening diseases, you will also feel more positive about your future.”

Stay Positive – Always carry a positive mind-set throughout your journey of quitting smoking. Stay strong and remember the reasons why you gave up in the first place. You should make a note of these reasons so you can call upon them if you are particularly struggling. Think of the benefits to your health but remember how much money you will be saving too!

Tell your friends and family – It may seem obvious, but friends and family can give you crucial support and encouragement as you win your battle to quit. If you know someone else who smokes, ask them if they want to quit as well. Sharing the experience and supporting each other together with some friendly competition can spur you on to complete your goals.

Change your diet – Smokers often find that their cravings are more intense with certain foods or drinks. For example, coffee and alcohol can make cigarettes taste better. If you avoid such drinks, you are likely to notice a reduction in your cravings. You may also want to avoid the people and places that you associate with smoking.

Increase exercise – A number of scientific studies have cited exercise as a way of cutting cravings. Even a small amount, like a 10-minute walk, can produce anti-craving chemicals to help you on your way. It will also help you to appreciate your improved breathing and fitness levels.

Find an alternative – many smokers say that it is the habitual sensation that makes smoking so hard to give up. If you find similarities here, you should consider using a vaporiser, which mimics the sensory feel of smoking. Nicotine replacement products include lozenges, gum, microtabs, patches and inhalation devices, all of which aim to gradually wean you off nicotine. Ask your GP or pharmacist.

Consider prescription medication – For people that have tried over-the-counter treatments without much luck, you may wish to consider taking a course of prescription medication, such as Champix. This treatment has been found, by clinical studies, to be the most effective out of all quit-smoking methods and works by reducing the desire to smoke as well as stopping withdrawal symptoms.

Take each day as it comes – Each day that passes without smoking is a mini achievement so be sure to tick off each successful day on a calendar.

“Aside from the tips I’ve mentioned above, you should try to keep in mind the various health benefits gained by quitting the habit,” says Dr Hilary. “Knowing these will keep your motivation levels high and ensure you stay true to your targets. Within just 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse rate will decrease and by the time you’ve reached the two-day mark, your nerve endings will start recovering, enhancing your sense of taste and smell. Though you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as hunger, anxiety and dizziness during the first week of giving up, the health positives significantly outweigh these side effects, so remain positive and try your hardest to kick the habit.”

About the author

Dr Hilary Jones qualified as medical doctor at the Royal Free Hospital, London in 1976. He then held various positions, including from 1978 the only medical officer on Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic. Returning to the UK, he became a junior doctor at Basingstoke Hospital, and from 1982 became a full-time Principal General Practitioner in the Basingstoke area. He then became a GP Trainer in 1987 and still practises part-time as a National Health Service (NHS) general practitioner.

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