Whether you’ve been smoking for decades or only a few months, there is no time like the present to quit!

The decision to quit smoking can be difficult, not knowing what to expect or where to start. But the benefits of quitting far outweigh any fears or reservations you may have. According to Nicabate only 7% of smokers have never tried to change their habit, so you’re not alone in your journey to quitting.

In fact, around 1 in 4 smokers have tried to change their smoking habits 10 or more times in the past. So, it’s important to know the benefits of quitting and some ways of quitting which have been successful for others in the past.

Reasons to quit smoking

Tobacco smoke is a mix of toxic chemicals which are harmful to the heart and other organs, reaching them within 10 seconds of the first puff.

Smoking has detrimental effects on the entire body. With main concerns including:

  • Cancer: It’s estimated that 1 in 5 deaths from cancer are a result of smoking. It can cause lung, larynx, pharynx, oral, oesophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, cervix and blood cancers.
  • Stroke: Smoking narrows the arteries causing them to block, which can lead to stroke.
  • Macular degeneration: It can cause irreversible damage to the back of the eye.
  • Heart disease: Narrows the arteries to the heart and can cause heart attacks.
  • Damage to blood vessels and circulation.
  • Reproductive issues: High risk of erectile dysfunction in men and affects the quality of sperm. It can also cause problems with conception for females.
  • Smoking kills: Most pertinently, smoking causes more deaths than murder, illegal drugs, motor vehicle accidents and alcohol combined!

While the above conditions are concerning, it may be comforting to know that the benefits of quitting smoking are almost immediate (depending on the number of cigarettes you usually smoke). According to Quit Now you can expect the following benefits:

  • 12 hours: Almost all nicotine will be out of your system.
  • 24 hours: Carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops dramatically.
  • 5 days: Nicotine by-products are mostly gone.
  • Within days: Smell and test senses improve.
  • 1 month: Blood pressure will return to normal and your immune system recovers.
  • 2 months: Lungs no longer produce extra phlegm.
  • 12 months: Risk of dying from heart disease is half of a continued smoker.
  • 10 years: Risk of lung cancer is less than half of a continued smoker.
  • 15 years: Risk of heart attach and stroke almost the same as that of a non-smoker.

How to quit

Smoking is highly addictive and the journey to quitting is unique for each individual. There is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy for quitting smoking but there are some tips that may help find the right path for you.

Quit Now suggests a 3 step plan to prepare for quitting:

  1. Identify why you want to quit?
  2. Create your plan.
  3. Put that plan into action.

To help create your plan the following apps and support services can help:

  • My QuitBuddy app: A free app designed to support and encourage your journey.
  • Call the Quitline on 13 7848: This is a confidential line staffed by friendly and professional advisors.
  • Receive your free quit pack: By calling the Quitline and ordering a pack over the phone.
  • Join QuitCoach: An online tool to help develop and assist your quitting journey.
  • Try Nicotine replacements: patches, gums or medications may help you stop smoking by reducing your withdrawal symptoms.