If you want to stop smoking, you can make small changes to your lifestyle that may help you resist the temptation to light up.

Working in the health and social care sector, it can mean that stress levels may be higher than usual and for those of you who find smoking to be relaxing, you may have also noticed that you have been smoking more since the start of the pandemic.

Here are 10 tips to help you stop smoking by the NHS, give them a go!

  • Think positive: You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don't let that put you off.

  • Take time to reflect: Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you're really going to do it this time.​​​

  • Make a plan to quit smoking: Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Sticking to the "not a single drag" rule can really help. Write it down and stick it on your work desk if you have to! Whenever you find yourself in difficulty, say to yourself, "I won't even have a single drag", and stick with this until the cravings pass. Think ahead to times where it might be difficult (a busy shift, for instance), and plan your actions and escape routes in advance.

  • Consider your diet: Is your after-lunch cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead. You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes. Getting up and going to speak to a colleague after lunch or settling down in a room where you don't smoke may help.

  • Change your drink: The same US study as above also looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you're at work or out, drink more water and juice. Some people find simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice) affects their need to reach for a cigarette.

  • Identify when you crave cigarettes: A craving can last 5 minutes. Before you give up, make a list of 5 minute strategies. For example, instead of going to the smokers area at work, instead visit a colleague in another department, or go to the kitchen and grab a glass of water. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.

  • Get some stop smoking support: If friends or family members want to give up too, suggest to them that you give up together. There's also support available from your local stop smoking service.

  • Get moving: A review of scientific studies has proven that exercise, even a 5 minute walk or stretch, cuts cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.​​​​​​​ 

  • Make non-smoking friends: When you're at work, stick with the non-smokers. "When you look at the smokers, don't envy them," says Louise, 52, an ex-smoker. "Think of what they're doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke."​​​​​​​ 

  • Keep your hands and mouth busy: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success. As well as patches, there are tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. And if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator or e-cigarettes. Stefani, our Drug and Alcohol Practitioner, can talk to you more about NRT if you are unsure or want a bit more information. When you're out, try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.​​​​​​​

  • Make a list of reasons to quit: Keep reminding yourself why you made the decision to give up. Make a list of the reasons and read it when you need support. Ex-smoker Chris, 28, says: "I used to take a picture of my baby daughter with me when I went out. If I was tempted, I'd look at that."

Get help

Did you know that you're up to four times more likely to quit successfully with their expert help and advice?

You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.