If you’re a smoker it’s important to remember one thing – you’re not alone! Around 1 in 7 people in the UK are smokers. So, at every step on your journey to becoming smoke-free, keep in mind that lots of other people are on the exact same path as you.
And just like you, they might not remember exactly why they started smoking in the first place.
We know smoking can have a big impact on our health. The good news is that evidence suggests many of these health issues can be reversed by kicking the habit, having a positive impact within the first few hours after you quit.
It’s never too late to quit smoking and see the benefits. And Nicotine Replacement Therapy products from Nicorette are clinically proven to support you when you’re aiming to stop smoking.
To help you on your quit journey we’ve looked at some of the main reasons why people smoke.
Understanding these starting points could help you avoid potential triggers and keep you motivated on your amazing journey to becoming smoke free.
Reasons for smoking – and how they can help you to stop
Because their friends are doing it, wanting to look cool, socialising and stress relief – everyone has their own reason for smoking. Similarly, we’ve all got different triggers, so there’s no one way to quit.
But knowing why you started smoking – and carried on smoking – could help you learn more about your triggers and support your journey to quitting smoking for good.
Stress and smoking
Many people say they smoke for stress relief. There’s a sense that popping outside for a cigarette gets you away from your desk, giving you the chance to leave the pressures of work for a few minutes.
But research shows that instead of easing stress, smoking can actually increase tension and anxiety. It’s true that the nicotine in cigarettes produces an instant relaxation hit (which is why you might associate it with stress relief), but this is only fleeting.
After the immediate rush you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which can make you feel tense. Having another cigarette helps satisfy those cravings, reinforcing the cycle of having a smoke to calm down.
In this way, it’s pretty easy to become dependent on cigarettes and see them as a way to help manage your emotions.
So, while smoking may provide temporary relief from stress, the cravings you experience over the long-term can make you more reliant on cigarettes.
There are better ways to reduce your stress and manage your emotions. You could try:
- Counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- Meditating or yoga.
- A relaxing hobby like exercising, baking, or just settling down to watch a favourite film.
Depression and smoking
Suffering from depression can make you twice as likely to start smoking. It can also make quitting more challenging because you tend to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.The nicotine in cigarettes encourages our brains to release a chemical called dopamine, which creates positive feelings and is often in short supply for people with depression.
The trouble is that smoking can switch off the brain's natural ability to make dopamine, reducing your long-term supply. This can then lead you to smoke more, so you still get that boost.
If you feel like your depression could be contributing to your smoking habit, there are plenty of things you can try to help you quit. It’s definitely worth speaking to your GP.
Through counselling, meditation, or just reaching out to friends and family, you can find alternative, healthier ways to boost your mood.
Smoking as a habit
Once you start smoking, it can quickly become part of your daily routine – making it harder to drop the habit.
A strategy that may help as part of a quit plan is to replace smoking with a more positive habit. Go for a run, read that novel you’ve been meaning to get round to, listen to a podcast or simply enjoy a chat with friends and family.
Replacing smoking with other activities can help break the habit and create new patterns in your life.
Smoking during adolescence
Smoking often starts during the teenage years. This can be for any number of reasons, including:
- Thinking it looks cool
- Just wanting to try it
- Because friends do it
- Seeing family members smoke
If you started smoking for any of these reasons, it’s worth taking the time to think if they’re still a factor now. Chances are they’re feelings you had when you were younger that don’t really apply today.
You might be concerned about how smoking is affecting your health but think it’s too late to undo any damage – especially if you’ve been smoking for a number of years.
The good news is the health impacts regularly seen in people who smoke can often be reduced and in some cases even reversed by quitting.
Are there any benefits of smoking?
It could be that you felt smoking helped you by providing stress relief or distracted you from unhealthy eating habits. It could be that you only smoke in social situations as a way of fitting in.
But actually, many of the supposed health benefits of smoking are temporary and are far outweighed by the damage it could be doing to both your own health and that of the people around you.
Again, it’s another great reason to quit smoking as soon as you can.
Begin your journey to a smoke-free future with Nicorette
We know breaking the habit can seem tough at first. And you’ll probably face several challenges on your journey to quit smoking. That’s why Nicorette products are designed to support you every step of the way.
We offer a range of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products that may help ease you through those difficult periods when you feel the urge to have a cigarette.