A recent study published in the journal Addiction found that smokers show fewer signs of dependence to cigarettes, but they lack the motivation to become smoke-free.
The study, spanned across a 10-year period and involved more than 41,000 smokers in Britain. It found a considerable decrease in the number of cigarettes people smoke per day (10.9 compared in 2017 to 13.6 in 2008), as well as in the number of people who smoke in the first hour after waking up. Smokers can also forego smoking for a longer time, the study reports. According to the study, more smokers are now able to go without smoking for 24 hours.
If in 2008 only 9.1% could refrain smoking for one day, by 2018 that percentage had increased to 13.4%. This has led scientists to believe that smokers are now less addicted to nicotine and this trend can be seen across multiple population groups. For example, the number of smokers with low-paying jobs hasn’t gone up, which goes to show that England’s efforts to help people quit smoking have had some effect.
But it wasn’t all rosy.
Researchers also found that, although people may feel less of an urge to smoke daily or soon after waking up, they don’t want to quit smoking altogether. The percentage of people who had smoke-free attempts has gone down from 37% to 29.9%, which begs the question: why do fewer people want to quit smoking now than they did in the past?
In England, stop smoking services and mass media awareness campaigns have had a major influence, but, in light of recent budget cuts, scientists are worried that smoking rates will rise again. Public Health England’s anti-smoking budget is down to £3.8 million from £5 million, which could endanger effective campaigns like Stoptober and jeopardize England’s plans of being smoke-free by 2030.
Quitting smoking is complicated and most people have to attempt it more than once. By now, most of us know why cigarettes are bad, but what can you do if you don’t exactly feel motivated to put an end to your habit? Well, that can be a highly personal process. For some, reading a bit about the harmful effects of cigarettes is enough to make them quit. For others, the decision to stop smoking is caused by a combination of intrinsic factors, health conditions, and lifestyle changes.
If you’re a smoker and you haven’t found the right driver to motivate you to quit, then maybe these science-backed tips can help.
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Talk to former smokers
If you know someone who managed to quit smoking, now would be a great time to reconnect. Reaching out to former smokers for support and advice is one of the best ways to help you on your journey because they were exactly where you are now and not only can they emphasize, but also show you that quitting isn’t impossible. In 2012, the CDC launched one of its best anti-smoking campaigns, called “Tips from Former Smokers” which, according to a study published in the journal Lancet, made 1.6 million smokers try to quit, 100,000 of which succeeded. Emotional and powerful, the videos featured in the campaign prove that someone’s personal example can be more compelling than any scientific study.
Try various nicotine replacement options
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and giving it up after years of smoking can be very difficult. A recent study has found that quitting cold turkey is more effective than quitting gradually but still, your body may need to adjust. According to vapeactive.com, nicotine replacement solutions such as patches, gum, and mouth spray can help you make a smoother transition, as can e-cigs, as long as you use them as an alternative to regular cigarettes. Some people have also found it useful to chew peppermint gum and snack on something to control the urge.
Involve friends and family
Although it’s not impossible to quit smoking alone, scientists say that involving friends and family can be more effective. Talking about your goals out loud can help you sharpen your focus and gives you someone to be accountable to. At the same time, the support of your loved ones goes a long way.
Whiten your teeth
This might seem odd, but having a tooth whitening treatment after deciding to stop smoking can be a great motivator, explains clinical psychologist and smoking cessation expert Geoff Michaelson, Ph.D. As you probably know already, smoking weakens the enamel, causing yellow teeth and cavities. Having your teeth whitened just as you start your smoke-free journey marks a new start and the aesthetic improvement you’ll see right away will help you stay focused.
Think about your pets
If you don’t really care about the negative effects that smoking has on your health or the way you look, you might want to hear that smoking is also incredibly harmful to pets and can shorten their lifespan. Although most smoking studies focus on the effects of cigarettes on human health, there is plenty of evidence that second and third-hand smoke can cause chronic coughing, nose cancer, oral cancer, and lung cancer in pets. Your pet’s fur is just another surface that the smoke comes in contact with and, by licking it when they clean themselves, pets ingest the same toxic particles that cause cancer. Even if you don’t smoke inside the house, a risk of cancer still exists because pets sit on your clothes and lick your hands.
Know when to see a therapist
Stress management solutions such as yoga, meditation, and exercise can help you cope with the psychological side of smoke cessation, but they may not always be enough, especially if you were already using smoking as a way to deal with stress and anxiety. When nothing else works, talking to a therapist can help you create proactive thinking patterns to keep you motivated and discover the underlying reasons why you can’t focus. You can also try hypnosis, which many former smokers swear by.