Smoking has been scientifically proven to raise the risk of having a stroke, developing heart disease and certain cancers.
According to the NHS, around 85 per cent of lung cancer cases are related to smoking cigarettes.
Each new year, many people vow to quit smoking in a bid to lead a healthier lifestyle, but giving up can be a struggle.
Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates, GP and part of the medical team at The Online Clinic, provides five tips to help you kick the habit in 2019.
Download a ‘quit smoking’ app
Tracking your progress via an app can help keep you motivated to quit. It can also help track how much money you have saved and show you how quickly it is benefiting your body.
Avoid drinks you associate with smoking
Drinks you associate with smoking, such as alcohol and caffeine, can be a trigger for you to smoke. They can also provoke cravings, as can fizzy drinks, so cut down on these.
Try nicotine replacement therapy
Reduced levels of nicotine in the body can cause cravings when you go without tobacco, leading people to smoke again.
Nicotine gum, electronic cigarettes or patches can help to stop cravings by giving the body a small amount of nicotine.
Over time, you can gradually reduce the strength until you are completely free from your addiction.
Try tablets prescribed to reduce cravings
Some medicines, such as Champix and Zyban, can be taken daily in tablet form, as prescribed by a GP.
They break down your addiction by preventing nicotine from binding to the parts of the brain that respond to it.
This helps to slowly diminish the ‘reward’ feeling you get from smoking. A full course usually lasts from seven to 12 weeks.
“There’s no easy way to quit smoking, but that doesn’t mean you should lose hope. The process varies hugely from person to person. Today there are many ‘stop smoking’ treatments available to help you quit,” said Dr Kershaw-Yates.
“It’s estimated that smoking is a major contributory factor in around 120,000 deaths a year – but the effects of smoking can be reversed the earlier you give up.”
“If you quit smoking before the age of 35 you should have the same life expectancy as a non-smoker.”