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 that may stop you stop smoking – 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. 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.

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2014

Next review due: 25/09/2016

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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Robathome said on 19 July 2012

I started using e-cigs three years ago after numerous attempts to quit. Have not touched an tobacco cigarette since.

I am still addicted to nicotine but longer inhale smoke containing 4000 nasty chemicals, however do not be tempted into buying a cheap disposable, invest your money in a good quality starter kit

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Wisekick said on 16 August 2011

Many folks find it difficult to quit smoking. This being the case, a lot of smokers would benefit from changing their habit to something healthier.

Nicotine patches are considered to be a healthier option than tobacco products, but they do not help in terms of the physical action of smoking. This is why Electronic Cigarettes are becoming a popular alternative.. Electronic cigarettes simulate the action of a tobacco cigarette, but do not contain the many harmful chemicals that are found in tobacco.

So, if folks want a healthier (no tar) and friendlier alternative to tobacco... they may find that electronic cigarettes are a helpful option?

Those who don't want to consume ANY nicotine & don't need the physical action of smoking, may want to try Acupuncture? A course of acupuncture may help alleviate nicotine withdrawal symptoms?

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josephineross1313 said on 28 December 2010

ive tried again and again to stop smoking and still keep going back to it been to g p and now doc has giving up on me so what now

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Branwen said on 23 January 2009

regarding excuse 2, I'll gain weight.

This is proving to be a difficulty for me right now. I'm still not smoking, but I've gained over half a stone so far.

Thing is, I keep tabs on what I eat, and have a healthy and varied diet. I only buy organic fresh veg, everything is cooked properly. I am not snacking. I spend half an hour on the exercise bike most nights, go dancing, play golf. I'm not a layabout.

But... the weight gain is starting to depress me. I'm not for giving in yet, but to be honest, I cannot afford to put on more weight, because it affect my mental state badly.

Smoking itself can use up to 200 calories a day (for a heavy smoker). I thought I was doing enough extra exercise to account for that. Apparently not.

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Ntms said on 07 January 2009

I used to think that I loved smoking, but after a week of quitting you do wonder what it was all about. Doubtless there will be further cravings (and for five days I knew I was pretty moody) and some days which are worse than others, but it's not as bad as I feared. I'd advise anyone to give it a shot, and bear in mind one thing: you are addicted to nicotine, so you are bound to feel bad for a few days. Believe me: after that, the cravings are only an intermittent nuisance and you can actually smell things and taste once again. It's a bit like being a teenager again.

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