Under-18s guide to quitting smoking

The younger you start smoking, the more damage your body will suffer when you get older. Here's seven reasons to quit and eight ways to help yourself do it.

Want to quit smoking?

Contact your local NHS stop-smoking services or call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044 (7am to 11pm)

  1. You’ll be healthier and less out of breath because smoking decreases your lung capacity.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Quitting helps save the planet. Deforestation due to tobacco production accounts for nearly 5% of overall deforestation in the developing world.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Not smoking will make you instantly more attractive. Most people prefer kissing non-smokers.

Eight ways to get through quitting

For most people, the first days after quitting are the hardest

OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?

  1. Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find that they want to quit as well.
  2. 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.
  3. 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."
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2014

Next review due: 16/01/2016


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Ben said on 15 August 2008

Planning to give up this summer, got my date set, my appointments in a few days time, and I have a couple of people who are gonna give up with me, so I have support! Problem is, im in 2 minds about giving up still, im gonna miss sitting with a group of m8s, having a good chat and the social smoke to bring it all together. OH WELL!

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James said on 30 June 2008

All That stuff about smoking is illegal for under 18s, how come in northern ireland where im from the law says you only have to be 16? should it not apply to all the uk?

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Jacky_Boy!! said on 25 April 2008

HIya, just replying, to your comment. If you want to give up smoking, and you go to the doctors, your parents shouldn't find out about it, as the doctors have to abide to patient confidentiality. So what you say to your doctor is between you and your doctor. Hope this helps. Oh and good luck if you decide to quit!!

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Anonymous said on 25 April 2008

My parents dont know I smoke, if I goto the doctor for free patches etc, will my parents have to know ?

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