Under-18s guide to quitting smoking
The younger you start smoking, the more damage your body will suffer when you get older. Here are some important reasons to quit and 8 ways to help you do it.
- You'll be healthier and less out of breath – smoking decreases your lung capacity.
- You'll save yourself a lot of money.
- 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.
- Quitting helps save the planet. Deforestation because of tobacco production accounts for nearly 5% of overall deforestation in the developing world.
- Someone who starts smoking at 15 is 3 times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s.
- The younger you start smoking, the more damage there'll be to your body as an adult.
- Not smoking will make you instantly more attractive. Most people prefer kissing non-smokers.
- Smoking can harm your fertility and, if you're female, increases your chances of complications during pregnancy and labour. Smokers' babies are also more at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
8 ways to get through quitting
OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?
Enlist your friends
Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find they want to quit as well.
Talk to your GP
It's very hard to give up by willpower alone. Get all the help you can find: using stop smoking medicines can really increase your chances of success.
As these are available on prescription, they'll be free for 12- to 18-year-olds. Ask your GP for help stopping smoking. They won't be shocked that you're a smoker.
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 phone/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."
Get help with cravings
Prepare for a tough first few days, as these can be the hardest to cope with. Most of your withdrawal symptoms should subside after the first 4 weeks.
Using a combination of nicotine-containing medicines is a good way to cope with cravings.
Watch your weight
Worried about weight gain while you're quitting? Stock up on some low-calorie snacks, such as apple chips, carrot sticks, sugar-free mints or popcorn, to get you through the cravings.
Set up a support network
Ask friends and family to support you. Ask for help from those people who'll be on your side.
Choose people who you can be honest with, and who'll be honest with you. Sometimes you need a bit of tough love as much as a cuddle or a shoulder to cry on.
Do your best to stay away from alcohol, coffee, sugar and sweets. Studies have shown that these (especially alcohol) can stimulate cigarette cravings.
And remember, it takes about a month for the nicotine cravings to subside. Take it 1 day at a time and soon you'll be smokefree for the rest of your life.
Page last reviewed: 25 October 2018
Next review due: 25 October 2021