Why do teens smoke?

Why teens and kids start smoking

In 2012-2013, according to the Youth Smoking Survey, 24% of youth in grades 6 to 12 reported having tried a tobacco product at least once and 4% are current smokers.

So why do kids and teens smoke? Many factors influence whether kids smoke or not. They include:

  • Peer influence: This is the most common reason that kids and teens, especially girls, start to smoke. Kids whose friends smoke are more likely to start smoking, as it gives them a sense of belonging.
  • Adult smoking: When kids and teens see adults, especially their parents or other family members, smoke, they will be more likely to smoke because they will perceive smoking as normal behaviour and something that is grown-up and mature.
  • Coping with stress: Just like adults, kids and teens can use smoking to relieve stress. Nicotine inhaled by cigarettes rapidly activates the reward and pleasures areas of the brain, creating positive feelings and sensations.
  • Advertising: Unfortunately, tobacco companies often gear marketing towards teens and children. They are a key demographic: most people who become regular smokers start smoking in their teens.
  • Media: When kids and teens see movies and television shows where actors smoke, they are more likely to try smoking since they often look up to actors and want to emulate their behaviour.

Read “Talking to kids and teens about smoking” to find out what you can do to help deal with kids and teens smoking.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team

Why Teens Get Hooked on Smoking

Why Teenagers Start Smoking

Teens turn to cigarettes for a number of reasons:

  • Some are motivated by peer pressure — they smoke to be like their friends.
  • Teens who are socially awkward may start smoking as a way to fit in.
  • Some like the appeal of the “rebel” label that may be attached to smoking.
  • However misguided, teens equate smoking with being grown-up, mature, and cool.
  • They see their favorite actors doing it on TV or in movies, and they want to convey that same sense of style.
  • Teenage girls might smoke to help them manage their weight.
  • Ads often show young adults having fun while smoking, increasing the appeal.
  • If adults in the home smoke, a teen is much more likely to start.

Many teenagers who smoke don’t expect it to turn into a lifelong problem. “Some teens are simply experimenting, but they become addicted and are actually surprised that quitting is not easy,” says Linda M. Guhe, MSW, a licensed smoking cessation counselor in private practice in St. Louis.

How to Recognize Teenagers Smoking

Peters says it’s easy to figure out if your children are smoking, once you know the signs:

  • That telltale “dirty ashtray” smell on their skin, their clothes, and their friends.
  • Using more breath mints or gum than in the past, to hide the habit.
  • Having loose tobacco, wrappers, lighters, or smoking-related items in their clothing, backpack, or car.
  • Asking for more money than they used to need.

Talking to Teens About Smoking

Parents play a crucial role in helping teens make the decision to quit smoking — or to not start smoking in the first place. Though teenagers may roll their eyes when parents bring up any issue concerning health or their behavior, try these strategies to get their attention:

  • Ask their opinion of smoking. Rather than lecturing your teens about the habit, which can make them shut down and check out, try to keep the conversation focused on them. Create an open dialogue by asking them what they think about smoking. Also ask them what their friends think about it and what they think their chances are of trying it. “This can help you get your important points across about smoking without making it sound like a lecture,” says Peters.
  • Focus on vanity. In reality, most teenagers aren’t worried enough about the potential health risks for that to be a reason for them to stop smoking. So you need to relate the hazards of smoking to an issue that resonates with most teens — how they look. “I tell parents to focus on their teenagers’ vanity,” says Peters. “Tell and show them what can happen to teeth, skin, hair, nails, and fingers when they start smoking. It can be a very effective argument.”
  • Talk about the negative effects of smoking on their stamina. If your teen is involved in extracurricular activities, point out that smoking can get in the way of their success by reducing their lung capacity in those endeavors. “Whether they run track, sing, dance, or do any other activities, those are all adversely affected by smoking,” says Peters. They won’t be able to run, sing, or dance to their full potential.
  • Tell them about people who smoking has hurt. If a family member or a close family friend is a smoker and has been affected by lung cancer or another smoking-related condition, let your kids know. It will help them put the health effects into perspective.

Remember that if you smoke and you’re trying to prevent or stop your teenagers from smoking you have less credibility for your argument. “Parents who smoke need to take care of their own issues in order to talk to their children effectively about it,” says Peters.

For the latest news and information on smoking cessation, follow @QuitSmoking on Twitter from the editors of @EverydayHealth.

Smoking

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Most of us know that smoking:

  • causes cancer, lung disease, and heart disease
  • can shorten your life by 10 years or more
  • can cost a smoker thousands of dollars a year

So why are people still lighting up? The answer, in a word, is addiction.

Once You Start, It’s Hard to Stop

Smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains the very addictive chemical nicotine. As with heroin or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly get used to the nicotine in cigarettes. Soon, a person needs to have it just to feel normal.

People start smoking for different reasons. Some think it looks cool. Others start because their family members or friends smoke. Almost all adult tobacco users started before they were 18 years old. Most never expected to become addicted. That’s why it’s so much easier to not start smoking at all.

What About E-Cigarettes and Hookahs?

It’s not only cigarettes that people get hooked on.

Also beware of vaping. Battery-operated e-cigarettes use cartridges filled with nicotine, flavorings, and other harmful chemicals and turn them into a vapor that’s inhaled by the user.

Some people think that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes because they don’t contain tobacco. But the other ingredients in them are dangerous too. In fact, there are reports of serious lung damage and even death among people who use e-cigarettes. So health experts strongly warn against using them.

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke tobacco through a hose with a mouthpiece. Some people think they’re safer than cigarettes because the smoke cools when it passes through the water. But look at the black gunk that builds up in a hookah hose. Some of that gets into users’ mouths and lungs. And since they don’t have filters and people often use them for long periods, their health risks might be even greater. Hookahs are usually shared, so there’s the added risk from germs being passed around along with the pipe.

How Can Smoking Affect Health?

Many of the chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine and cyanide, are poisons that can kill in high doses. The body is smart. It goes on the defense when it’s being poisoned. First-time smokers often feel pain or burning in their throat and lungs, and some even throw up the first few times they try tobacco.

Over time, smoking leads to health problems such as:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • lung damage
  • many types of cancer — including lung, throat, stomach, and bladder cancer

Other problems include:

  • gum disease
  • yellow teeth
  • eye disease
  • an increased risk for infections (like pneumonia)
  • a greater risk of diabetes
  • weaker bones that are easier to break
  • skin problems like psoriasis (a type of rash)
  • wrinkled skin
  • ulcers

Smoking can affect sexual health in both men and women. Girls who smoke and are on hormone-based birth control methods like the Pill, the patch, or the ring have a higher risk of serious health problems, like heart attacks. And if a woman wants to get pregnant, smoking can make that harder.

Besides these long-term problems, the chemicals in cigarettes and other products also can affect the body quickly. Teen smokers can have many of these problems:

  • Bad breath. Cigarettes leave smokers with a condition called halitosis, or lasting bad breath.
  • Bad-smelling clothes and hair. The smell of stale smoke tends to last — not just on people’s clothing, but on their hair, furniture, and cars. It’s hard to get the smell of smoke out.
  • Trouble keeping up in sports. Smokers usually can’t compete well with nonsmokers. Physical effects of smoking, like a fast heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath, harm sports performance.
  • Greater risk of injury and slower healing time. Smoking hurts the body’s ability to make collagen. So common sports injuries, such as damage to tendons and ligaments, will heal more slowly in smokers than nonsmokers.
  • Increased risk of illness. Studies show that smokers get sick more with colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers. And people with some health conditions, like asthma, get sicker if they smoke (and often if they’re just around people who smoke). Teens who smoke as a way to manage their weight often light up instead of eating. So their bodies can lack the nutrients needed to grow, develop, and fight off illness well.

Kicking Butts and Staying Smoke-Free

All forms of tobacco — cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco — are health hazards. It doesn’t help to substitute products that are advertised as better for you, such as e-cigarettes or filtered or low-tar cigarettes.

The only thing that really helps is staying away from all these products. This isn’t always easy, especially if everyone around you is smoking or vaping. It may help to have your reasons for saying no ready for times you may feel the pressure. Try “I just don’t like it” or “I want to stay in shape for soccer” (or football, basketball, or other sport).

If you do smoke or vape and want to quit, you have lots of information and support available. Different approaches to quitting work for different people. For some, quitting cold turkey is best. Others find that a slower approach is the way to go. Some people find that it helps to go to a support group especially for teens.

You also can find information and support online at:

  • Smoking Quitline
  • Quit Tobacco‎
  • Smokefree.gov

When quitting, know that the first few days are the hardest. So don’t give up. Some people find they have a few relapses before they manage to quit for good.

Staying smoke-free will give you more energy, better looks, more money in your pocket, and in the long run, more life to live!

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD Date reviewed: September 2019

Why do young adults start smoking?

A recent phenomenon
With smoking rates declining markedly in the past three decades, the researchers cited several studies suggesting that the tobacco industry is increasing its efforts to appeal to young adults.

In the United States, there is a 50% increase in the number of young adults who start smoking after high school.

This trend prompted O’Loughlin and her team at the ESPUM to identify predictors of young adults starting to smoke which may lead to avenues for prevention.

They analyzed data from a cohort study called “NDIT” (Nicotine Dependence in Teens), which began in 1999 in the Greater Montreal Area, in which nearly 1,300 young people aged 12-13 took part.

In this cohort, fully 75% tried smoking. Of these young people, 44% began smoking before high school; 43% began smoking during high school, and 14% began after high school.

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Not all, however, continued smoking, but among the “late” smokers, the researchers found that smoking onset is associated with three risk factors: high levels of impulsivity, poor school performance, and higher alcohol consumption.

Explaining the three risk factors
Some late smokers showed greater impulsivity compared to the other participants in the study. According to O’Loughlin, it is possible that impulsivity is more freely expressed when one becomes an adult, since parents are no longer there to exert control. “We can postulate that parents of impulsive children exercise tighter control when they are living with them at home to protect their children from adopting behaviours that can lead to smoking, and this protection may diminish over time,” she explains.

In addition, school difficulties increase the risk of becoming a smoker because they are related to dropping out of school and, seeking employment in workplaces where smoking rates are higher.

Finally, since young people are more likely to frequent places where they can consume alcohol, they are more prone to be influenced by smokers, or at least be more easily tempted. “Since alcohol reduces inhibitions and self-control, it is an important risk factor for beginning to smoke,” warns O’Loughlin.

Toward targeted prevention campaigns
Smoking prevention campaigns usually target teenagers because studies show that people usually begin to smoke at age of 12 or 13. The phenomenon is well known, and numerous prevention programs are geared toward teenagers.

“Our study indicates that it is also important to address prevention among young adults, especially because advertizing campaigns of tobacco companies specifically target this group,” says O’Loughlin.

“This is particularly important because if we can prevent smoking onset among young adults, the likelihood that they will never become smokers is high,” she says.

Adolescents and Tobacco: Trends

Approximately 4.9 million middle and high school students were current tobacco users in 2018.1 Although tobacco use by adolescents has declined substantially in the last 40 years, in 2018, less than one in 25 high school seniors was a daily smoker.2 Substantial racial/ethnic and regional differences in smoking rates exist. Among high school students, white teens are more likely to smoke than their black or Hispanic peers.3 Smoking rates are typically higher in nonmetropolitan areas, and in the Southern and Midwestern regions of the country.4

Figure 1: 30 Day Prevalence of Daily Use of Cigarettes, by Grade, 1976-2018

Table 1: Percent of students who report smoking cigarettes daily, by grade, 1976-2018

Products used by adolescents include cigarettes (both store-bought and hand-rolled), cigars, pipes, hookahs, smokeless tobacco, and newer oral products such as e-cigarettes, pouches, lozenges, strips, and sticks:

  • Tobacco cigarettes: Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking before age 18, and 9.7 percent of high school seniors reported smoking in the last month.2
  • Smokeless tobacco: Use of smokeless tobacco among adolescents is less common than cigarette smoking.
  • Hookahs: Hookahs are no safer than other forms of tobacco smoking and may deliver even higher levels of toxic substances.
  • Flavored little cigars: Of middle and high school students who used tobacco products in 2014, more than 60 percent smoked flavored little cigars.5
  • E-cigarettes: From 2011 to 2016, the percentage of 12th-grade students who had ever used an e-cigarette increased from 4.7 to 13 percent, down from a peak in 2015 of 16 percent.2 For the first time in 2014, more teenagers used e-cigarettes or vaped nicotine than smoked cigarettes—a trend that continues. In 2017, 11 percent of high school students reported vaping nicotine at least once in the past 30 days.17

Many adolescents use more than one tobacco product. In 2017, 9 percent of high school students and two percent of middle school students reported the current use of two or more types of tobacco.18

Tobacco Cigarettes

In 2018, less than a quarter of high school seniors reported ever having smoked a cigarette.2 However, in 2018, almost one in 20 students in 12th grade (five percent) was a regular, daily smoker—a number that has declined dramatically from its recent peak of 25 percent in 1997 (see Figure 2).2 Cigarette smoking by adolescents (measured as use in the past month) in grades eight, 10, and 12 combined has declined by more than half since its most recent peak in the late 1990s. In 2014, about one in twelve (eight percent) reported smoking cigarettes in the past month, compared with more than one in four (28 percent) in 1996-97 (see Figure 2).2

Figure 2: Percent of adolescents who report smoking cigarettes in the past month, 1996-1997, 2014, 2016, and 2018

Table 2: Percent of adolescents who report smoking cigarettes in the past month, 1996-1997, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Year collected Percentage
1996-97 28%
2014 8%
2015 7%
2016 6%
2017 5%
2018 5%

Although we may not know all of the factors playing a role in this decline, the 1990s were years when funds from tobacco companies (the result of a legal settlement between the tobacco companies and the federal government) supported a number of local, state, and national anti-tobacco campaigns.7 In addition, during this time, new restrictions on tobacco advertising were instituted, smoke-free laws and policies were widely implemented, and additional taxes were placed on cigarettes, which inhibited demand.8 However, after 2002, most states did not allocate funds to maintain the proven anti-tobacco efforts shown to deter adolescent tobacco use.9

Smokeless tobacco

Use of smokeless tobacco products (e.g., snuff, chewing tobacco) among adolescents is less common than cigarette smoking. However, adolescents increased their use of smokeless tobacco between 2008 and 2010. Rates remained fairly steady from 2010 to 2018.2 Although four percent of 12th graders used smokeless tobacco in the past 30 days (in 2018), this is not as high as during the mid-1990s, when use peaked at 12 percent (in 1995). Adolescents increased their use of smokeless tobacco between 2008 and 2011, however, this trend has slowed and even reversed, particularly for older adolescents (see Figure 3).2 Approximately equal proportions of male and female adolescents smoke tobacco cigarettes, but users of smokeless tobacco products are nearly all male.2

Figure 3: Percent of students who report using smokeless tobacco in the last 30 days, by grade, 1993-2018

Table 3: Percent of students who report using smokeless tobacco in the last 30 days, by grade, 1993-2018

Hookahs

Hookahs (water pipes) are popular among some adolescents and are typically used in groups and sometimes in “hookah lounges.” When used in groups, the hookah mouthpiece is passed around from person to person. Hookahs are no less addictive than other forms of tobacco smoking, and are at least as toxic as cigarette smoking.10

A typical hookah smoking session is one hour, during which the user inhales 100 to 200 times the amount of smoke they would inhale from a single conventional cigarette.11 Because users smoke for a prolonged period of time, they may absorb more of the nicotine and toxic chemicals associated with cigarette smoking.11 However, the dangers of hookah smoking are not well known among some adolescents.12 Analysis of a national survey found that 24 percent of those ages 18 to 24 believed that hookahs were less harmful than smoking cigarettes.12

Older teens have decreased their use of hookahs in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, the percentage of high school seniors who had used a hookah in the last year decreased from 20 percent to 8 percent.2 Among adolescents and young adults, hookah use is highest among those ages 19-20, and those who live in cities. It is less common in suburban and rural areas.10

E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices designed to deliver nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. E-cigarettes heat a liquid containing highly addictive nicotine and other chemicals to become an aerosol that is then inhaled by the user. The variety of flavors available, such as strawberry, cinnamon, and chocolate, are a primary reason for use among young e-cigarette users.13

Prior to 2016, e-cigarettes not marketed for therapeutic purposes were unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This changed with a new rule that expanded the FDA’s authority. The percent of high school seniors who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days increased from 1.5 percent in 2010 to 26.7 percent in 2018.2,6

The same trend is observed in younger adolescents. Use among 8th grade students also more than doubled (in 2018, 10 percent had used one in the past 30 days). Overall, among younger adolescents (those in 8th and 10th grades), more than twice as many reported using e-cigarettes than those who reported smoking cigarettes in 2018. This is less true for older adolescents and young adults; the discrepancy may be due to the relatively recent emergence of e-cigarettes.2

The parallel use of e-cigarettes with conventional cigarettes also is common. In 2014, approximately one out of four 8th and 10th grade students who used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days had also smoked a conventional cigarette; looking at those in 12th grade, that figure rises to more than half.16

There is concern that e-cigarettes represent a gateway to the use of traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products. Eighth grade students who use e-cigarettes are 10 times more likely than their peers who do not use e-cigarettes to eventually smoke tobacco cigarettes. This trend continues to a slightly lesser degree for older adolescents. Tenth and 12th grade students who use e-cigarettes are eight and six times more likely, respectively, than their peers to smoke tobacco cigarettes. This suggests that adolescents who use e-cigarettes are likely to become tobacco cigarette smokers as they age.14

Adolescent use of e-cigarettes is becoming increasingly common.15 An emerging trend among adolescents is to use e-cigarettes to vaporize liquid marijuana or hash oil, which contain concentrated THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.15 This practice can produce a higher-potency high that can be damaging during crucial years in the brain’s development.

Other Oral Tobacco Products

Newer forms of oral tobacco products—pouches, lozenges, strips, snus, and sticks—also are cause for concern. Most of these are designed to dissolve in the user’s mouth, and are offered in candy-like flavors; however, they all contain potent toxins that can lead to cancer and other serious diseases. Unfortunately, there are currently no reliable data on how many adolescents use these newer products.

Footnotes

1 Gentzke, A.S., Creamer, M., Cullen, K.A., et al. Vital Signs: Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:157–164. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6806e1. 2 Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2019). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use 1975-2018: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Retrieved from

. 3 Kann, L., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., Shanklin, S. L., Flint, K. H., Queens, B., … Ethier, K. A. (2018). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2017. Surveillance Summaries, 67(8), 1-114. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6708a1.htm?s_cid=hy-yrbs2017-mmwr. 4Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2017). 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from5Corey, C. G., Ambrose, B. K., Apelberg, B. J. & King, B. A. (2015). Flavored tobacco product use among middle and high school students – United States, 2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 64(38), 1066-1070. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6438a2.htm. 6 Singh, T., Arrazola, R. A., Corey, C. G., Husten, C. G, Neff, N. J., Homa, D., M., & King, B. A. (2016). Tobacco use among middle and high school students — United States, 2011–2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(14), 361–367. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6514a1.htm. 7 Jones, W.J., & Silvestri, G.A. (2010). The Master Settlement Agreement and its impact on tobacco use 10 years later: Lessons for physicians about health policy making. Chest, 137(3), 692–700. 8 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Retrieved from. 9 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Retrieved from. 10 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Hookah isn’t harmless. Retrieved from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/hookah-isn-t-harmless. 11 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Hookah tobacco (shisha or waterpipe tobacco). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/hookah-tobacco-shisha-or-waterpipe-tobacco. 12 Wackowski, O. A. & Delnevo, C. D. (2016). Young adults’ risk perceptions of various tobacco products relative to cigarettes: Results From the National Young Adult Health Survey. Health Education & Behavior, 43(3); 328-336. Retrieved from http://heb.sagepub.com/content/43/3/328. 13 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Vaporizers, e-cigarettes, and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/tobaccoproducts/labeling/productsingredientscomponents/ucm456610.htm. 14 Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Johnston, L., & Patrick, M. E. (2016). E-cigarettes and the drug use patterns of adolescents. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 18(5), 654-659. Retrieved from http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/5/654. 15 Morean, M. E., Kong, G., Camenga, D. R., Cavallo, D. A., & Krishnan-Sarin, S. (2015). High school students’ use of electronic cigarettes to vaporize cannabis. Pediatrics 136(4). Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/09/01/peds.2015-1727. 16 Warner, K. E. (2016). Frequency of e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking by American students in 2014. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 51(2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26821834. 17 Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2018). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use: 1975-2017: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Retrieved from. 18 Wang, T. W., Gentzke, A., Sharapova, S., Cullen, K. A., Ambrose, B. K., & Jamal, A. (2018, June 8). Tobacco product use among middle and high school students – United States, 2011-2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 67(22), 629-633. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6722a3.htm?s_cid=mm6722a3_e.

Under-18s guide to quitting smoking


Quit smoking

8 ways to get through quitting

OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?

Enlist your friends

Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find they want to quit as well.

Talk to your GP

It’s very hard to give up by willpower alone. Get all the help you can find: using stop smoking medicines can really increase your chances of success.

As these are available on prescription, they’ll be free for 12- to 18-year-olds. Ask your GP for help stopping smoking. They won’t be shocked that you’re a smoker.

Prepare excuses

Smokers often hate other people quitting, so be prepared for a few put-downs.

It’s a good idea to have something ready to say when you’re offered a cigarette.

Here are a few reasons (but we’re sure you can think of better ones):

  • “Smoking costs me £xxx a year. I’m giving up so I can buy myself a new phone/driving lessons/a holiday.”
  • “I can’t smoke in my new weekend job, so I want to give up.”
  • “My boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t like kissing a smoker.” It’s true: two-thirds of teenagers say smoking reduces sexual attractiveness.
  • “I’m taking my sport seriously and I need to give up if I want to be an athlete.”

Get help with cravings

Prepare for a tough first few days, as these can be the hardest to cope with. Most of your withdrawal symptoms should subside after the first 4 weeks.

Using a combination of nicotine-containing medicines is a good way to cope with cravings.

Watch your weight

Worried about weight gain while you’re quitting? Stock up on some low-calorie snacks, such as apple chips, carrot sticks, sugar-free mints or popcorn, to get you through the cravings.

Find out how you can quit smoking without putting on weight

Set up a support network

Ask friends and family to support you. Ask for help from those people who’ll be on your side.

Choose people who you can be honest with, and who’ll be honest with you. Sometimes you need a bit of tough love as much as a cuddle or a shoulder to cry on.

Stay healthy

Do your best to stay away from alcohol, coffee, sugar and sweets. Studies have shown that these (especially alcohol) can stimulate cigarette cravings.

Find out how to cut down on your drinking

Keep focused

And remember, it takes about a month for the nicotine cravings to subside. Take it 1 day at a time and soon you’ll be smokefree for the rest of your life.

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