Stop smoking: quit making excuses

If you're a smoker, you probably have loads of excuses you use to delay quitting. But are they really justified? Here are seven common excuses and how to overcome them.

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. Smoking makes you burn calories faster, but as long as you remember that you need less food energy, quitting won't actually make you gain weight.

Try cutting down on sugar and fat and take up an activity instead of replacing cigarettes with food or alcohol.

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 actually 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 keep putting it off.

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 great 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.

In reality fewer than one in five people now smokes, so there will be plenty of people who don't smoke to be social with if you look out for them. 

Although social smoking may seem better than smoking 40 a day, there is no safe level of smoking. If you have to make some compromises in your social life, it's well worth it for the sake of your health.

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.

Find out how stopping smoking will help banish bad breath.

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 break. But it's not impossible and every year thousands of people manage to give it up. With a lot of determination, you can do it too.

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 and you can access support sessions for extra motivation to help you manage your cravings.

Read more about the smoking treatments available on the NHS.

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2016

Next review due: 16/01/2018

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