Preparing to stop

Giving up smoking can seem daunting at first. You may feel that the stress of having to deal with a cancer diagnosis makes it even more challenging. However, there are several things you can do in order to prepare to stop. You will probably find it helpful to start by thinking about the benefits of giving up smoking and making a list of your reasons for stopping.

You can prepare by:

  • setting a date to stop and planning your first smoke-free day
  • getting rid of cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters
  • trying to find other ways of dealing with stress
  • buying healthy snacks.

It is important to get support. Friends and family can help as well as your doctor or pharmacist. You can also use medicines to reduce cravings.

When you stop smoking, you may find it is a good idea to adapt your daily routine to avoid situations where you’d be most tempted to smoke. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet your objectives. Perhaps, you could use the money you would have spent on cigarettes to treat yourself or your family.

Making changes

There are three stages to giving up smoking:

  • Preparing to stop.
  • Stopping.
  • Staying stopped.


Preparing to stop

Deciding to give up smoking and really wanting to succeed are important steps in becoming a non-smoker. Giving up smoking isn’t easy. But you can increase your chances of success by preparing for possible problems in advance and making sure you have support in place to help you overcome them.

Make a list of your reasons for stopping

You can use this to motivate yourself at times when you feel tempted to smoke.

Set a date to stop completely

The most effective way of reducing harm from smoking is to stop completely. Try setting a date to stop and mark it on your calendar. Smoke your normal amount until this date then stop suddenly. If a friend or a family member also wants to quit, it may help to decide the date together.

Get support

Talk to people who can give you help and support to quit. This might include your family, friends and colleagues. Tell them the date you plan to stop smoking. Your doctor or pharmacist can offer practical help and advice and refer you to a free local stop smoking service. You could also call a stop smoking helpline.

Use medicines to help reduce any cravings

The first 3–4 days after you’ve stopped can be the most difficult. You may be feeling the effects of nicotine withdrawal and this might tempt you to smoke again. There are medicines that can improve your chances of success in overcoming withdrawal effects. Your GP or NHS Stop Smoking Adviser can talk over the options with you. If you plan to use medicines to help you cope, make sure you get them well in advance of the date you plan to give up on. It’s best to start taking medicines like Champix and Zyban 1–2 weeks before you quit.

Try to find other ways of dealing with stress

The shock of being diagnosed with cancer or coping with treatment can make it harder to quit, because many smokers use cigarettes to cope with stress. Other ways of coping with stress include exercising and using relaxation or meditation aids. These are available as books, CD’s and mobile phone apps. Some people use hypnotherapy or go to classes to learn relaxation or meditation techniques. It can also help to talk things over with someone you trust or find out about local support groups. If you think stress may be a problem for you, ask your specialist nurse or GP for advice.

Get rid of cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters

Do this the day before you give up. Also check the house, the car and your clothes for any stray cigarettes.


Stopping smoking

It may help to change your routine. If possible, stay away from places or situations that you associate with smoking. If you always want to light up when you have a cup of coffee, try drinking tea. Avoiding alcohol to begin with is also a good idea. People often find their willpower is weaker after a drink or two.

You may be tempted to snack more once you’ve stopped smoking. Eat whatever you like on the day you give up. It’s better to focus your willpower on one issue at a time. If you’re worried about weight gain, keep healthy, non-fattening snacks to hand.

A stress ball may help if you need to do something with your hands. Or you could take up an activity, like knitting, gardening or playing computer games, to keep your hands occupied and take your mind off cigarettes.

If your doctor has prescribed medicines to help you give up, use these as prescribed. Let your doctor know if you have any problems with them.

Back to Giving up smoking

Reasons to quit

Whether you’re living with or after cancer, giving up smoking has important health benefits.

Staying stopped

If you’ve decided to give up smoking, several things can help you stay stopped.

Reducing the cravings

There are several medicines you can use to reduce cravings and help you give up smoking.