Kate, one of our Advanced Nurse Practitioners, busts the top 10 myths about quitting smoking in this article. Organisations can provide access to our Quit Smoking service to their employees, customers, members or policyholders.
1. It’s not the right time for me to quit smoking
It is true that it is best not to set a quit date during a particularly stressful period in your life or when you have a big event coming up. Set a quit date that works for you, such as the beginning of a holiday or when your diary is clear. Think about what makes you want a cigarette, such as having a cup of coffee or going to the pub, and pick a day when you can avoid these triggers. It is a good idea to tell your family and friends that you’re planning to quit and why. It might also be a good idea to tell your work colleagues you’re planning on quitting so they don’t offer you a cigarette or put temptation in your way.
2. Nicotine replacement therapy is harmful
Nicotine is a very addictive substance, but it isn’t harmful. The tar, carbon monoxide, and over 4,000 toxic chemicals found in cigarettes can cause severe damage to your health. Nicotine Replacement Therapy can help you to stop smoking. It will give you a clean, safe dose of nicotine to help reduce cravings and withdrawals.
3. I will put on weight if I stop smoking
Many people have concerns that they will gain weight when they give up smoking. It is possible that some people will put on weight; this is down to nicotine suppressing the body’s natural appetite and making it burn calories faster. If you quit smoking and replace it with only eating unhealthy foods, you’re likely to put on a small amount of weight. However, if you stop smoking and try to maintain a healthy diet, you’ll unlikely gain weight.
It is important to remember that not everyone who quits smoking will gain weight. Your decisions about what you eat and how active you are will affect your weight.
4. Smoking will not harm my looks
It has been shown that smoking ages the skin by dehydrating it, depleting it of essential nutrients, and depriving it of oxygen. The more a person smokes, the greater the risk of premature wrinkling, as it increases the production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen in the skin. Smokers in their 40s often have as many facial wrinkles as non-smokers in their 60s. Smoking can also stains your teeth and makes them yellow.
5. My smoking doesn’t harm anyone, so why does it matter?
Second-hand smoke is dangerous, especially for children. Children breathe faster than adults, meaning they take in more harmful chemicals from second-hand smoke.
Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke are more prone to premature birth, and their baby is more at risk of low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).
6. It’s too late to quit- the damage is already done
You might feel that because you smoke, you’ve already increased your chance of getting a smoking-related disease and that quitting now won’t make any difference.
It is never too late to stop smoking. As soon as you quit, your body will begin to repair itself. You will notice improvements in your sense of taste and smell just a few days after stopping; within a few months, your lung capacity improves by around 10%, and within a year, you’ll have a reduced risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
You’ll also improve the health of your family and friends by protecting them from second-hand smoke.
7. I’ll get too stressed if I quit smoking
Despite this popular myth, it’s been proven that non-smokers usually have lower stress levels than smokers. Much of the apparent calming effect of a cigarette is simply due to the relief of symptoms (such as irritability, anxiety, and restlessness) caused by nicotine withdrawal. Also, some of the relaxation from smoking is from taking a break and a few deep breaths, not the cigarette itself.
8. Hand-rolled tobacco is healthier for me
You may think it’s safer to smoke hand-rolled tobacco rather than cigarettes. It can be cheaper, but roll-ups expose smokers to 4,000 toxic chemicals through their smoke, many of them poisonous and carcinogenic.
Nicotine and tar levels are higher in roll-ups than in most ordinary cigarettes. Many people who smoke roll-ups don’t use a filter, so they inhale more tar and nicotine.
9. I only smoke a few cigarettes a day, so it’s harmless
Research has shown the health risks from light smoking are substantial. Smokers of only 1-4 cigarettes per day have three times the risk of dying from a heart attack and 3-5 times the risk of lung cancer compared to non-smokers. Overall their risk of death from any cause is increased by 57% compared to non-smokers.
10. I can quit with willpower alone
Many people try to quit smoking with willpower alone, but it’s much easier to go smoke-free with the right help and support. Everybody is different, so it’s essential to have a plan that works for you when quitting smoking.
For more information, visit our Quit Smoking page.