Soon there will be no hiding place for smokers with a smoking ban in public places in England in force from 1 July.
However, despite the majority of smokers saying they would like to quit, many of them are still unsure what the ban will entail. We look at the impact the ban will have and find out the best ways of quitting.
Smokers, now so often forced to huddle outside offices and homes, will find even less places where their habit’s welcome from July 1.
That’s when the English public smoking ban comes into effect, banning smokers from having a drag in pubs, cafes, clubs and restaurants and a host of other places that will become smoke-free zones.
The ban already exists in Scotland and Wales and making it UK wide is predicted, by the Department of Health, to provoke up to 600,000 people to attempt quitting for good. There are many ways of quitting a habit that’s getting harder and harder to enjoy.
Millions more would like to join them – at least 70% of the UK’s 12 million smokers would like to kick the habit – but are daunted by the difficulty of kicking the weed.
Click for > Methods for quitting
Smokers need support to succeed according to Jennifer Percival, head of the Royal College of Nursing Tobacco Education project and author of You Can Stop Smoking, a self-help guide to overcoming the habit. She says: “Smoking is extremely difficult to give up and people shouldn’t feel bad about themselves or failures if they struggle with it.
“Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, and so the cycle of addiction can be difficult to break. Most people try five or six times to quit before they succeed.”
Percival points out that those using nicotine replacement therapy products – such as patches, gum, or inhalators which mimic cigarettes – and getting support, are four times more likely to quit than those simply going cold turkey.
She says: “Nicotine replacement therapy is no magic cure but combined with willpower and support maybe from a group or even a sympathetic friend it can significantly help you overcome your desire to smoke.”
Percival also counters the two major reasons people give for smoking – that it aids concentration and helps reduce stress. “The reality is that smokers experience higher levels of stress than non-smokers. After stopping, the level of stress in ex-smokers drops noticeably.
“And although many people believe smoking helps them clear their thoughts and concentrate, research shows that nicotine does not enhance a smoker’s performance level above that of a non-smoker’s.”
Reasons to Quit Smoking
- According to the British Heart Foundation, one in five people will die from smoking and annually there are 114,000 deaths of smokers in the UK.
- Over the past 50 years smoking has killed 6.3 million Britons – the equivalent of the population of London.
- Most risks from smoking come with the first few cigarettes of the day. Just one cigarette triples the risk of lung cancer, while a five-a-day habit increases a woman’s risk of dying of lung cancer fivefold.
- It’s worth quitting. Within 10 to 15 years of giving up smoking, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer is only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker, according to statistics from ASH.
- If you ditch a 20-a-day habit you’ll now find an extra Â£35.50 in your wallet every week, which adds up to Â£152 a month or Â£1,825 a year.
What type of smoker are you?
- Light smokers have fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, or only smoke in certain situations – while socializing or when stressed.
- Heavy Smokers light up more than 15 to 20 times a day and see smoking as an integral part of life.
What Can I Do?
- Check out the condition of your lungs, it could boost your desire to stop!
- Take a free ‘smokelyser’ test at Boots to measure the level of carbon monoxide in your lungs. Carbon monoxide thickens and clots blood, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Test three months after quitting to see the difference.
- Boots also offers, from June 20, a free lung age test, measuring the ‘real’ age of lungs.
- Set a quit date and prepare for it by getting guidance on how to give up. Visit your GP, or visit the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree. Seek advice from helplines such as NHS Stop Smoking Service: 0800 169 0169 or the Quitline: 0800 00 22 00.
- Boots, alongside charity Quit, offers a personalised quitting plan, with the charity’s stop smoking counsellors giving further support.
What Can Help?
Nicotine patches as a once-a-day solution are most suitable for smokers who have a regular pattern of smoking. They release a steady dose of nicotine into the bloodstream via the skin. They come in three strengths to allow users to reduce the dose when they’re ready. “In general, people who smoke 10 cigarettes or more a day should start with the highest dose patch,” Percival says. A week’s supply costs around Â£15, but they may be available on prescription.
Nicotine nasal spray is the strongest form of NRT available. “It’s especially suitable for heavy and highly addicted smokers as it is absorbed faster than any other NRT”, Percival explains. It’s recommended for those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day or light up within 30 minutes of waking. It costs around Â£21 for one spray.
Nicotine gum “lets you control your nicotine dose yourself”, Percival says. It comes in two strengths,the 2mg gum for those who smoke 20 cigarettes or fewer a day, and 4mg for those who smoke more than 20 a day. Most people use 10-15 pieces of gum daily for at least the first 12 weeks. A pack of 24 costs around Â£4.
A new therapy, IQS (I Quit Smoking) from America, has just launched in the UK, and involves having electrical stimulation applied to the earlobe. It’s claimed this releases endorphins that help reduce nicotine cravings.
It’s aimed at those who smoke over 15 cigarettes a day, and have smoked for over eight years. It costs Â£399 and includes four treatment sessions, and six months helpline/follow up support at five London clinics, with another opening shortly in Birmingham. IQS also offers a money back guarantee if the treatment fails to work over six months. For more information call 0800 107 5877 or visit www.iqs.uk.com
Nicotine microtab is a small white tablet that dissolves allowing the mouth to absorb the nicotine. It should be taken for 12 weeks. It’s around Â£16 for a pack of 100 tablets.
Nicotine inhalators are plastic devices shaped like a cigarette with a nicotine cartridge fitted into it. “It’s held like a cigarette so it’s suitable for people who miss the habit of holding and handling a cigarette,” Percival says. It’s around Â£6 for a starter pack.
How to Avoid Temptation
- Keep busy, go for a walk or start a new project.
- Change your routine, and avoid shops where you usually bought cigarettes.
- Research shows that you are four times more likely to quit if you let people around you know and gain their support.
- Wear a commitment ring, which costs Â£1 from Boots and proceeds go to the Quit charity.
- When your desire for a cigarette is intense, clean your teeth or wash your hands to reinforce how pleasant it is not to smell of smoke.
- If you miss having something in your mouth, try a toothpick, carrot and celery sticks.
- Never allow yourself to think that ‘one won’t hurt’ – it will. It’s the slippery slope.
You Can Stop Smoking, by Jennifer Percival, is published by Virgin Books, priced Â£10. Out now.
By Gabrielle Fagan