So you've made the call to stop smoking. Well done. The process can be simple for some, and an absolute punish for others. The good news is that seven out of 10 people who try to quit smoking are successful. Don't be disappointed if it takes a couple of goes — there are more Australian men who are ex-smokers (26.7%) than there are men who smoke daily (12.8%) or occasionally (3.8%), which shows the success of those who try to quit.
Whether you're going cold turkey or gradually cutting down, here are some of the ways you can make quitting smoking easier.
1. Ask for help
Most people can do with a bit of support to quit smoking, and there are plenty of options available. Your doctor can help you access medication and counselling, and guide you on the best way to use nicotine replacement therapy (more on that next). Quit provides an online chat service and a phone hotline (13 QUIT) with counsellors on call (you can also request an Indigenous counsellor) to help you create a personalised quit plan, answer any questions you have and motivate you to stick with it. The MyQuitBuddy app can help you set goals, talk to other quitters, find distractions during the tough moments, learn about the health benefits of quitting smoking and celebrate milestones.
2. Try nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant found in tobacco. It’s what makes a smoking habit harder to kick. That's why nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help. It gives you a dose of nicotine, without the health impacts that come with smoking a cigarette. NRT comes in several forms, including long-acting skin patches (for a steady dose) and fast-acting forms such as gum, lozenges, sprays and inhalers (for a quick release when you feel a sudden craving). NRT products are available in pharmacies and some supermarkets.
3. Ask your doctor about medication
There are medications available that act on the nicotine receptors in your brain and make smoking less enjoyable, which can help manage withdrawal symptoms. They’re not suitable for everyone and can trigger strong side effects in a small number of people, so chat with your doctor about whether you should try them.
4. Get accountable
Tell your mates, family members and colleagues that you're stopping smoking and ask them to encourage you to stay committed. It can help to have people around you to support you and keep you accountable. Financial incentives (e.g. someone paying you to stop smoking) can also help you to quit. You might want to put aside all of the money you would have spent on cigarettes and celebrate a quitting milestone with a gift to yourself.