Here’s some advice, videos and tools to help you stop smoking.However, you’re far more likely to succeed with some extra guidance and support – click here to find out about our free and friendly stop smoking service.
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Smoking and the unborn baby
Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. It's never too late to stop smoking. Every cigarette you smoke in pregnancy harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby, so their heart has to beat harder every time you smoke. Cigarettes also contain over 4,000 chemicals.
If you stop smoking now
Stopping smoking will benefit both you and your baby immediately. Carbon monoxide and chemicals will clear from your body and oxygen levels will return to normal. If you stop smoking:
- you will have less morning sickness and fewer complications in pregnancy
- you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
- you will reduce the risk of stillbirth
- you will cope better with the birth
- your baby will cope better with any birth complications
- your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
- your baby is less likely to be born underweight and have a problem keeping warm: babies of women who smoke are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter than other babies, may have problems during and after labour and are more prone to infection
- you will reduce the risk of cot death, also called sudden infant death
Stopping smoking will also benefit your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from illnesses that need hospital treatment, such as asthma.
The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But stopping even in the last few weeks of your pregnancy will benefit you and your baby.
If your partner or anyone else who lives with you smokes, their smoke can affect you and the baby both before and after birth. You may also find it more difficult to quit if someone around you smokes.
Second-hand smoke can cause low birthweight and cot death. Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia during the first year of life. More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of second-hand smoke.
Getting help with stopping smoking
Live Well Suffolk’s specialist Stop Smoking Clinics in Pregnancy are recommended by midwives and doctors in Suffolk.
We understand that trying to quit smoking is hard work, but with our support and encouragement, practical advice, and assistance on selecting appropriate Nicotine Replacement Therapy you are more likely to succeed.
Partners and family members who smoke are welcome to attend as well. Make your home smoke free!
Contact us now for further details.Close
Quitting leads to better sex
Stopping smoking improves the body’s bloodflow, so improves sensitivity. Men who stop smoking may get better erections. Women may find that their orgasms improve and they become aroused more easily. It’s also been found that non-smokers are three times more appealling to prospective partners than smokers (one of the advantages, perhaps, of smelling fresh).
Find out more tips for having good sex.
Stopping smoking improves fertility
Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men’s sperm more potent. Becoming a non-smoker increases the possibility of conceiving through IVF and reduces the likelihood of having a miscarriage. Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Read more about how to protect your fertility.
Stop smoking for younger looking skin
Stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles. The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and can reverse the sallow, lined complexion that smokers often have.
Watch this video to find out how smoking can ruin your looks.
Ex-smokers have whiter teeth
Giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you'll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are less likely than smokers to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely.
Find out more about dental health.
Stopping smoking lets you breathe easier
People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months. In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age. In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age and wheezing when going for a walk or climbing the stairs.
Quit smoking to live longer
Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Men who quit smoking by 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life. In other words, it’s never too late to benefit from stopping. Quitting not only adds years to your life, but it also greatly improves the chance of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.
Ditch the cigarettes and feel less stressed
Scientific studies show that people's stress levels are lower after they stop smoking. Nicotine addiction makes smokers stressed from the ‘withdrawal’ between cigarettes. The pleasant feeling of satisfying that craving is only temporary and is not a real cure for stress. Also, the improved levels of oxygen in the body means that ex-smokers can concentrate better and have increased mental wellbeing.
Read our top 10 stress-busters.
Quitting smoking improves smell and taste
Kicking the smoking habit gives your senses of smell and taste a boost. The body is recovering from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
Stop smoking for more energy
Within two to 12 weeks of stopping smoking, your circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.
Read these self-help tips to fight fatigue.
Smoke-free homes protect your loved ones
By stopping smoking you'll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family.
Passive smoking increases a non-smoker's risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Second-hand smoke doubles the risk of children getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, croup (swollen airways in the lungs) and bronchitis, plus more ear infections, wheezing and asthma. They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers.
Excuse 1: 'the damage is done'
You might feel that because you smoke, you've already increased your chance of getting cancer or another smoking-related disease, so quitting now won't make any difference.
In fact, as soon as you quit, your body starts to repair itself. You'll notice improvements in your breathing and sense of taste and smell just a few days after stopping.
You'll also improve the health of your family and friends by not exposing them to passive smoking.
Find out more about the health benefits of quitting.
Excuse 2: 'I'll gain weight'
Medical evidence shows that nicotine doesn't stop you getting hungry. Nicotine makes your burn calories faster, but as long as you remember that you need less food energy, quitting won't actually make you gain weight.
Try eating low-fat options and take up an activity instead of replacing cigarettes with food.
Read more about how to stop smoking without gaining weight.
Excuse 3: 'I'll get stressed'
Despite what you may think, nicotine doesn't calm you down.
Nicotine cravings between cigarettes make you feel stressed and anxious, so when you smoke the cigarette you feel calmer. But you'll feel less stressed once you quit and don't have cravings any more.
If you want a cigarette, wait for 10 minutes and the craving will usually pass. Take some deep breaths or go for a walk to relieve the stress and distract you from those cravings.
Here are some more stress-busting tips.
Excuse 4: 'it's not the right time to quit smoking'
Although it's true that you shouldn't try to quit during particularly stressful times, don't use this as an excuse to never try quitting.
Pick a particular date, such as the beginning of a holiday or the beginning of a working week. Work out what makes you want a cigarette, such as having a cup of tea or going to the pub, and pick a day when you can avoid these triggers.
Telling lots of people that you're giving up will make you more likely to quit. You won't want to let them down, and you can ask smokers not to offer you cigarettes.
Read more about 8 key times to quit smoking.
Excuse 5: 'quitting will ruin my social life'
For many smokers, cigarettes are an important part of their social life. You may class yourself as a social smoker, who only has a cigarette when you're with friends who smoke or during nights out. You may also have bonded with colleagues during cigarette breaks.
Although social smoking may seem better than smoking 40 a day, any cigarette smoking damages your health.
The smoking ban introduced on July 1 2007, means that you can no longer smoke in public places. If you do, you face an on-the-spot £50 fine if you're in a public place such as a bar, restaurant, club or workplace. It could be an expensive cigarette.
Excuse 6: 'smoking looks good'
For some people, holding a stick of tobacco wrapped in paper seems attractive and fashionable. Teenagers may think it makes them look older or cooler.
But many people find the sight of a smoker unattractive. Yellow fingernails, blackened fingers and a stained tongue and teeth are not a pretty sight.
Smoking also makes your complexion dull and prematurely ages your skin. So if you don't want to look old before your time, it's a good idea to quit.
There's also the smell. Cigarette smoke sticks to your hair and clothes long after you've had your last cigarette of the day. Some people think kissing a smoker is like 'kissing an ashtray'. If you'd prefer to smell fresher, now's the time to quit.
Watch this video to see how smoking can ruin your looks.
Excuse 7: 'I can't quit because I'm addicted'
There is some truth in this. Smoking is an addiction that's undeniably tough to quit. But it's not impossible. With a lot of determination, you can do it.
To quit successfully, you need to deal with your chemical addiction to nicotine and the fact that smoking has become part of your daily routine.
The chemical addiction causes physical symptoms when you quit, such as tiredness, irritability and poor concentration. Your GP can prescribe medication to replace the nicotine. There are counselling and support groups that can give you extra motivation to help you ignore your cravings.
Change your routine so that you replace smoking a cigarette with an alternative, such as a drink of water or another activity.
Read more about the smoking treatments available on the NHS.
- You’ll be healthier and less out of breath because smoking decreases your lung capacity.
- You’ll save yourself a packet. The average smoker spends an astonishing £27.54 a week and £90,000 over their lifetime on cigarettes.
Use this tool to work out how much money you are saving by quitting smoking.
- You’ll look better. Chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow to your skin. Smokers have more wrinkled and saggy faces by the time they’re in their mid-20s.
- Quitting helps save the planet. Deforestation due to tobacco production accounts for nearly 5% of overall deforestation in the developing world.
- Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s. Read more about the dangers of teen smoking.
- The younger you start smoking, the more damage there will be to your body as an adult. Read more about the dangers of teen smoking.
- Not smoking will make you instantly more attractive. Most people prefer kissing non-smokers. Read what some hot male celebrities, including footballers Joe Cole, Les Ferdinand and Cristiano Ronaldo, think about girls who smoke.
Eight ways to get through quitting
OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?
- Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find that they want to quit as well.
- It’s very hard to give up by willpower alone. Get all the help you can find: 12 to 18-year-olds get free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, sprays, gum) on the NHS. Ask your GP for help stopping smoking. They won’t be shocked that you’re a smoker.
- Smokers often hate other people quitting, so be prepared for a few put-downs. It’s a good idea to have something ready to say when you’re offered a cigarette. Here are a few reasons (but we’re sure you can think of better ones):
"Smoking costs me £xxx a year. I’m giving up so I can buy myself a new mobile/driving lessons/a holiday."
"I can’t smoke in my new weekend job so I want to give up."
"My boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t like kissing a smoker." It’s true: two-thirds of teenagers say smoking reduces sexual attractiveness.
"I’m taking my sport seriously and I need to give up if I want to be an athlete."
- Prepare for a tough few days when you first quit. Most people find that the first days are the hardest to cope with. But most of your withdrawal symptoms should subside after the first four weeks. Using nicotine gum and patches (NRT) is the best way to cope with cravings.
- Worried about weight gain while you’re quitting? Load your bag up with low-calorie snacks, such as apple chips, carrot sticks, mints, popcorn or chewing gum, to get you through the cravings. Read more about how you can quit smoking without putting on weight.
- Get your family to support you. Your parents will be on your side. If they don’t know you smoke, they might freak out at first, but if you tell them you’re quitting they’ll do all they can to help.
- Do your best to stay away from alcohol, coffee, sugar and sweets while you quit. Studies have shown that these foods (especially the booze) can stimulate cigarette cravings. Here's some advice on how to cut down on your drinking.
- And remember, it takes about a month for the nicotine cravings to subside. Take it one day at a time and soon you’ll be smokefree for the rest of your life.