8 key times to quit smoking

Research shows that most smokers get motivated to quit very suddenly, spurred into action by a specific event, milestone or resolution.

Did you know?

Smokers are four times more likely to succeed at quitting with NHS support.

Find your local stop-smoking service or ask your GP to refer you to an NHS Stop Smoking Advisor.

Use one of these key times to get, and stay, motivated to quit.

Stop smoking in October

Why quit? Did you know that if you stop smoking for 28 days you're five times more likely to stop for good?

That's the snappy but true mantra behind the NHS's 28-day Stoptober Challenge.

Stay motivated: Sign up to the Stoptober Challenge and you'll receive a free starter pack, daily tips and advice to help you through the 28-day journey.

Read more about the Stoptober Challenge.

New Year’s stop smoking resolution

Why quit? Around 7 million of us will make a New Year’s resolution to improve an aspect of our health and stopping smoking is one of the most common ones.

Break down your goal into smaller steps and reward yourself when you achieve one of these. Tell your friends that you are stopping smoking, focus on the benefits – financial and physical – of success and keep a diary of your progress.

Stay motivated: We have all you need to help you achieve your goal to stop smoking, including ordering a free Quit Kit, getting support and tracking your progress.

Read more about how to stick to New Year’s resolutions.

Stop smoking when you're pregnant

Why quit? Every cigarette harms your baby and if you carry on smoking during your pregnancy the potential risks include miscarriage, having your baby early, low birth weight and birth defects.

If you quit smoking, both you and your baby will be healthier and you will be less likely to have problems during the birth.

If you’re thinking about starting a family – or you're already pregnant – you have a wonderful reason to quit smoking.

Stay motivated: Use pregnancy symptoms and your change in routine to help you stop smoking. If you’re lucky, you’ll be one of the women who can’t stand the smell of smoke because of morning sickness and that will make it easier to cut out cigarettes. You’ll probably find that your daily routine will change throughout pregnancy, too. Take advantage of the change to break the link with nicotine.

The NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044 offers free help, support and advice on stopping smoking when you're pregnant, including details of local NHS Stop Smoking Services. You can also sign up to receive ongoing advice and support at a time that suits you.

Read more about quitting smoking in pregnancy.

No Smoking Day helps quitters

Why quit? Every year around a million smokers, especially women, use No Smoking Day to try to quit. And many succeed. The No Smoking Day charity estimates that more than 1.5 million smokers have quit for good since its launch in 1983.

No Smoking Day is a good time to quit because you’ll know you’re not alone – thousands of others are trying to stop smoking along with you. There’s usually lots of coverage of the day in the media with helpful TV, radio and newspaper reports and hundreds of events taking place up and down the country – and that can be a big incentive too.

Stay motivated: No Smoking Day’s dedicated website for quitters has tips and advice on stopping smoking.

Getting fit can help you stop smoking

Why quit? Maybe you've decided to start an exercise programme or take up a new sport, and you've noticed how smoking-related symptoms, like shortness of breath, affect you when you exercise.

Smokers have less endurance than non-smokers and take longer to recover after exercise. But as soon as you quit, you’ll find that you feel fitter, less breathless and better able to play sports.

Stay motivated: Not only will you become fitter if you stop smoking, you can use exercise to help you quit. There’s evidence that exercise will improve your mood and damp down cravings in the early stages of quitting. It’ll also help to stop you putting on weight when you quit.

Boost your fitness with fun and practical ideas to help you get into shape, from exercising at home to learning to dance.

Quit when you become a grandparent

Why quit? You probably want to spend as much time with your new grandchild as possible, but if you smoke you could be harming the baby’s health. Consider how your son or daughter may feel about you smoking around their baby.

Children who breathe in secondhand smoke are at more risk of cot death or conditions including allergies, asthma, chest infections and breathing problems.

Moving to the other side of the room to smoke, or even into another room, doesn’t completely remove the risk.

Even if you open a window, or move to a different room, secondhand smoke will still be present in a room after two-and-a-half hours. Even if you can't see or smell any smoke, it's probably still there. Smoking in a car is even worse because all of the smoke is concentrated into a small space.

Stay motivated: Tell yourself that you’re quitting not only for your own health, but that of your grandchild. And don’t be put off by the fact you may have been smoking for many years. A recent study by the UK Centre for Tobacco Studies found that older smokers using NHS stop-smoking services are more likely than younger ones to quit successfully.

Read about the risks of passive smoking and how the NHS can help you to stop smoking.

Use being ill to help you quit

Why quit? If you have a long-term or life-threatening condition, it’s a good time to quit smoking. A major illness is a life-changing event that could help you break your addiction.

You may think the damage is already done – or that it's too late to quit. But that's not true. You'll reap noticeable health benefits within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette.

Stay motivated: As part of the treatment for your condition, your doctor may recommend that you change your lifestyle by reducing stress, eating more healthily and doing more exercise. Knowing that this will help your recovery will keep you going.

Read our guide on how to look after yourself if you have a long-term condition.

Going into hospital forces you to stop smoking

Why quit? Smoking is banned in hospitals so you’ll be forced to stay off cigarettes during your stay, making this a great opportunity to stop smoking permanently.

If you’re having an operation, there’s the added incentive that if you stop smoking before you go into hospital you’ll recover more quickly, have better wound healing and there will be less chance of complications.

Stay motivated: Ideally you should stop smoking about eight weeks before you go into hospital. If you want help preparing, ask your GP or a member of the hospital staff to refer you to the hospital’s stop-smoking service. A trained NHS stop-smoking adviser will give you advice.

During your hospital stay you can get lots of help, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), to help you cope with any withdrawal symptoms you may experience.

Read more about going into hospital.

Read more about 8 steps you can take straight away to stop smoking.

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2014

Next review due: 25/09/2016

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