If you start smoking when you're in your teens, get ready for stained teeth, wrinkly skin and a one-in-two chance of dying early.
The younger you start smoking, the more damage there will be to your body when you get older. Here's seven reasons to do quit and nine ways to help yourself do it.
Seven reasons to do quit
- You’ll be healthier and less out of breath because smoking decreases your lung capacity.
- You’ll save yourself a packet. Smoking 20 a day for a year costs £1,825.
- You’ll look better. Chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow to your skin. Smokers have more wrinkled and saggy faces by the time they’re in their mid-20s.
- Quitting helps save the planet. Deforestation due to tobacco production accounts for nearly 5% of overall deforestation in the developing world, according to research published in medical journal The BMJ.
- Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s.
- The younger you start smoking, the more damage there will be to your body as an adult.
- Not smoking will make you instantly more attractive. Most people prefer kissing non-smokers.
Nine ways to get through quitting
OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?
- Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find they want to as well.
- It’s very hard to give up using willpower alone, so get all the help you can find: 12 to 18-year-olds get free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, sprays, gum) on the NHS. Ask your GP. They won’t be shocked you’re a smoker.
- 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 mobile/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."
- Prepare for a tough few days when you first quit; the first days are the hardest to cope with for most people. But most of your withdrawal symptoms should have subsided after the first four weeks. Using nicotine gum and patches (NRT) is the best way to make coping with cravings more manageable.
- Drink plenty of water to flush away the toxins in your system while you’re quitting.
- Worried about weight gain while you’re quitting? Load your bag up with low-calorie snacks such as apple chips, carrot sticks, mints or chewing gum to get you through the cravings.
- Get your family to support you. Your parents will be right with you on this. If they don’t know you smoke, they might freak out at first, but if you tell them you’re quitting they’ll do all they can to help.
- Do your best to stay away from alcohol, coffee, sugar and sweets while you quit. Studies have shown that these foods (especially the booze) can stimulate cigarette cravings.
- And remember... it takes about a month for the nicotine cravings to subside. Take it one day at a time and soon you’ll be smokefree for the rest of your life.
The first days are the hardest to cope with for most people