Discover our top tips for overcoming those cravings & quitting smoking

Deciding to quit smoking is a huge step towards living a healthier, smoke-free life and we’re here to help with advice, tips, and guidance.

Smoking can increase your risk of heart disease, respiratory disease and certain cancers including lung, mouth, throat, and bowel cancer. 

Stopping smoking can have a significant positive impact on your physical and mental health and the health of your family because they’ll no longer be breathing in second hand smoke. But, even with so many benefits, we know that quitting can still be really difficult. That’s why we’ve put together our top tips on quitting smoking.

Remember why

List all of the reasons you want to quit smoking and focus on all of the positive changes not smoking will bring. What don’t you like about smoking? How will quitting improve your health? What impact will quitting have on your life? Write down your thoughts and regularly remind yourself of these points.

Avoid triggers

Make a list of all your potential triggers and plan how you’re going to deal with them if they come up. You can still enjoy going out or socialising with friends but having a strategy in place for dealing with triggers if they pop up can help you stick to your plan.

Plan ahead

Making the decision to quit smoking is a big step and you can improve your chances of success by preparing. Get rid of all your tobacco products along with any smoking paraphernalia, like lighters and ashtrays.

Find support

Seeking out support from friends and family can be really helpful in your journey to quit smoking. By sharing your intentions with the people close to you, they can help to hold you accountable and provide guidance when it gets hard. 

You could also seek out an online support system by joining a Facebook group or forum for people who are trying to quit smoking. Getting support from people who are experiencing the same symptoms and cravings as you can be validating and help to keep you on track.

Use stop smoking aids

Quitting smoking can be difficult and requires a lot of willpower, but there are so many different types of stop smoking aids available that can make it a little bit easier. 

When you smoke, an ingredient in cigarettes called nicotine causes your brain to release something called dopamine – a ‘feel-good’ chemical that makes you feel happy and relaxed. Unlike other ingredients, nicotine isn’t responsible for the harmful effects of tobacco products, but it is addictive. This is what makes it difficult to quit smoking. 

When you stop smoking, your brain isn’t releasing the same amount of dopamine. This can make you feel irritable and make your cravings worse. Stop smoking aids help to reduce these unpleasant symptoms by releasing a small amount of nicotine into the blood stream. This is called Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). NRT products can be purchased over the counter or can be accessed through the NHS Stop Smoking Service available at selected Boots pharmacies*. 

NRT can come in lots of different forms, including:     

• Patches     
• Chewing gum     
• Nasal and oral sprays     
• Lozenges     
• Tablets and oral strips     
• Inhalers 

Boots Online Doctor Stop Smoking Treatment can also help you access prescription medications to support you on your journey to quit smoking without the need for a GP appointment**.

Deal with temptation

Dealing with the temptation to smoke is one of the hardest parts of quitting. However, having strategies in place to overcome those temptations can help you stay on track. Whenever you have the urge to smoke, you could chew gum, or go for a walk or jog. 

Exercising can be especially helpful because it releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain, including dopamine, making it easier to overcome those cravings.

Take it one day at a time

Remember that quitting smoking is a difficult thing to do and it’s ok to have bad days. By taking it one day at a time, you can focus on small goals that feel more manageable for you. Remember your reasons for quitting, talk about how you’re feeling, and focus on how far you’ve come – you’ve got this! 

Quitting smoking is a great decision and can have a huge positive impact on your physical and mental health. 

When you stop smoking:

• After 20 minutes, your pulse returns to normal

• After 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will have halved as your oxygen levels begin to recover

• After 48 hours, all the carbon monoxide will have been flushed out of your blood stream and your taste and smell will improve as your lungs clear out mucus
• After 72 hours, your energy levels will increase, and breathing will become easier as your bronchial tubes start to relax
• After 2 to 12 weeks, your circulation starts to improve
• After 3 to 9 months, your lung function increases by up to 10% meaning that coughing, wheezing and other breathing problems improve
• After 1 year, your risk of having a heart attack is halved compared to a smoker’s
• After 10 years, your risk of death from lung cancer is halved compared to a smoker’s

Quitting smoking can also improve your mood, lower everyday stress levels, and reduce feelings of anxiety. 

The NHS stated that from April 2021 to March 2022, 54.8% of everyone who reported they were trying to quit smoking later reported they had been successful. It might take time and willpower, but it’s the best thing you can do for your health and the health of those around you. 

You might think quitting smoking sounds impossible, but you’ve already taken the first step. And remember, there’s support available every step of the way. 


Stop smoking treatment

Get the advice & treatment you need to help quit smoking for good**

NHS Stop Smoking Service

If you're looking to quit smoking, the NHS Stop Smoking Service at selected Boots pharmacies can help

*Charges may apply.

**Subject to availability. Access to prescription-only medication is subject to a consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Charges may apply.