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Quitting smoking may sometimes feel like an uphill struggle but when the reward for kicking the habit is an average of ten years extra to live, it’s worth fighting for. Join around a million other smokers this No Smoking Day and take on the challenge.

If you’re looking to boost your chances of success, we’re here to talk you through the arsenal of free support available. For more information on quitting check out the NHS smokefree website or find out more about smoking and cancer on our healthy living pages.

Stop Smoking Services offer gold-standard support

The NHS Stop Smoking Services offer the best chance of quitting. Last year, just over half of those setting a quit date with Stop Smoking Services were successful.

Today you can sign up for free support via emails, texts and social media at One Day Quit. But there’s an even wider range of free support, advice and medication available from the NHS Stop Smoking Services all year round.

Stop Smoking Services provide quitting support tailored to your needs. You might feel more comfortable with telephone-based support, help in a group session might appeal to you or one-to-one counselling might be more your cup of tea.

There’s also a range of prescription medications available to ease your transition to a life free from nicotine addiction. These are broadly split into nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) and other medications.

Replacing nicotine without the dangerous chemicals from cigarettes

Giving up smoking can be hard because nicotine causes addiction in much the same way as heroin or cocaine and is just as addictive as these ‘harder’ drugs. But it’s not all bad news. Using NRT can increase your likelihood of quitting by 50-70 percent.

It’s recommended that NRT is used for between 8 to 12 weeks and different products can be used together to get the right dose of nicotine for you:

  • Nasal spray – provides the quickest and strongest dose of nicotine and can be particularly useful for heavy smokers. A meta-analysis of the different types of NRT suggested that nasals sprays offer the greatest increase in likelihood of quitting;
  • Lozenges – give short bursts of nicotine over 20 – 30 minutes;
  • Inhalators – look like plastic cigarettes and may be helpful if you miss the physical aspect of smoking;
  • Patches – slowly release nicotine directly into the bloodstream and can be used all day or also overnight;
  • Gum –provides short bursts of nicotine;
  • Microtabs – dissolve under the tongue to give a nicotine dose more discreetly.

Other prescription medication

There are two stop smoking medications available on prescription – Champix and Zyban. Both are taken for a week or two before you quit and the following few months.

These medications do not contain nicotine and may improve your chances of quitting more than using NRT. Champix simulates the activity of nicotine in the brain to relieve nicotine cravings. Zyban affects other chemicals in the brain that are involved in transmitting signals and can also help against nicotine addiction.

Do these quit aids really work?

All of these approved smoking cessation aids have been shown to work in clinical trials.

And you’re over three times more likely to give up using these prescription medications, along with behavioural support, according to a real-life smoking survey.

In this study, having support from a healthcare professional dramatically improved the chance of success. Using NRT alone, without support, did not seem to increase the chances of quitting. So we’d urge you to talk to your GP or contact your local NHS Stop Smoking Service.

What other quit methods are there out there?

People use a range of other methods to stop smoking, not all of which are supported by scientific evidence.

For example meta-analyses looking at all the available evidence showed that acupuncture didn’t increase your likelihood of quitting. There’s not enough evidence to show if hypnotherapy improves your chances either. And some studies have looked into whether exercise might help people stop smoking, but unfortunately the evidence is inconclusive – though don’t forget exercise is good for you for many other reasons.

E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular over the last few years, no doubt in part down to prominent promotional campaigns from manufacturers. Surveys suggest that e-cigarettes have helped some smokers quit, so there’s clearly some potential in these devices.

And using e-cigarettes is almost certainly far safer than continuing smoking. But unlike NRT, Zyban and Champix, they’re not scientifically proven, licensed methods of quitting. So to maximise your chances of quitting success we recommend you consult your local NHS Stop Smoking Services.

We’ve written two other blog posts discussing e-cigarettes in more detail:

Everyone’s different

There’s a wide range of support available to help you quit but remember everyone’s different. For some people medication really helps but others prefer to go cold-turkey. Some people try to quit gradually rather than stopping abruptly and that works for them.

However you chose to do it, keep trying and good luck!

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RobW March 12, 2014

“E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular over the last few years, no doubt in part down to prominent promotional campaigns from manufacturers”

Promotion by manufacturers may be a small part of the rise of the e-cig, but by far the main reason is that they actually work and users have spread the message amongst their smoking friends.

It may have also been wise to warn smokers about the dangers associated with Champix, proven to increase suicide risks.

It may also have been worth pointing out that traditional NRT has a failure rate of over 90%, hardly a “proven” way of stopping smoking.

All in all another biased article by CRUK which is likley to drive people from trying e-cigs onto devices and drugs that have a very poor sucess rate.