Smoking cessation (quitting)

Specialty of Pulmonology & respiratory medicine

What is smoking cessation?

Smoking cessation, or ‘quitting’, as it is more commonly referred to, is the process in which someone stops smoking tobacco. Tobacco contains an addictive substance called nicotine, which means the process of quitting can be very difficult for the individual, as they can experience withdrawal symptoms, just like in any other addiction.

Why would you do it?

Smoking is connected to a number of medical conditions, including life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Cancer Research UK asserts that at least 15 different types of cancer are directly caused by smoking, including cancers of the lung, oesophagus, the nose and sinuses, and larynx among others.  

Smoking affects almost every part of the body, including the heart and circulation, the brain, the lungs, the stomach, the mouth and throat, and the skin and bones. Smoking also contributes to infertility, causing male impotence and reducing female fertility.

Some of the more common conditions directly caused by smoking include:

Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death not just in the United Kingdom, but in the world. In 2016, tobacco was the cause of almost 100,000 deaths across the UK. Tobacco smoking not only affects those with the habit, but those around them. Second-hand smoke is responsible for an estimated 11,000 or more deaths in the UK every year.

How can I quit smoking?

You can be referred by your GP to a local stop smoking service who will help you through your journey towards quitting smoking. At your first session, you’ll speak with an advisor who will talk you through the reasons behind quitting, and a goal that you want to achieve (e.g a quit date). The NHS also provides certain treatments (e.g nicotine replacement products), depending on what is right for you and how you want to use it.

There is a huge amount of professional support available to those who wish to quit smoking, and many options available including group sessions, drop-in services, and one-on-one appointments with healthcare professionals. Many find it useful to see a therapist or psychologist for support during this time. They may also wish to continue seeing a professional for a time afterwards to prevent relapse and to help cope with cravings.

Hypnotherapy is a popular treatment for those who are trying to quit. It is a form of psychotherapy which works with your subconscious to help you make positive changes. This type of treatment is not available on the NHS. Hypnotherapy is safe, but it is important to visit a mental health professional who is fully trained.

Speak to your doctor for further advice on smoking cessation.

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