Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.
Why children and young people do it
Young people may smoke for different reasons — it could be for stress relief, pleasure, or something they do in social situations.
Many young people start smoking because their friends or family members do.
Smoking is addictive. That means once you start, it can be difficult to stop. Nicotine is the main addictive substance in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. Nicotine affects many parts of the body, including the brain. About 80–90% of people who smoke regularly are addicted to nicotine.
When a regular smoker doesn’t smoke, they may have withdrawal symptoms. Their body isn’t used to not having nicotine. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- feeling down or sad
- having trouble sleeping
- feeling irritable‚ on edge‚ grouchy
- having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating
- feeling restless and jumpy
- slower heart rate
- feeling more hungry or gaining weight.
If you want to stop smoking yourself, or you want to help a young person quit, there is lots of support out there.
Talk to your GP
They can refer people to a local ‘stop smoking’ service and prescribe nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, or stop smoking medication such as Champix.
Join your local stop smoking service
People are up to four times more likely to quit successfully with the help of a local stop smoking service. These services are staffed by trained stop smoking advisers and are available all over the country. Support is available in group sessions or on one-to-one basis. People usually go for a few weeks and work towards a quit date.
Find your nearest stop smoking service from the NHS Smokefree website, or call the Smokefree national helpline on 0300 123 1044 to speak to a trained adviser.
Find online support
The NHS Smokefree website has been designed to give a range of evidence-based support for you.
It’s all available for free and can boost your chances of success whatever method you are using.
Follow the instructions and connect with the free online support that’s available.
Keep an emergency phone number to hand
If you feel like giving in to your cravings and having a cigarette, call this number, which could be your local stop smoking service or the national Smokefree helpline.
“We’re here on 0300 123 1044 from Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm answering calls from people who are about to have a cigarette and want help not lighting up,” says Chris, one of the helpline advisers. “We can talk about why you want to smoke and how to deal with your cravings.”
Consider using a nicotine-containing product
Cigarettes are addictive, and self-control alone might not be enough for you to stop entirely.
Give yourself a better chance of success by using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). This is available on prescription from your GP, from your local stop smoking service or from a pharmacist.
You could also consider trying e-cigarettes. While they’re not risk-free, they are much safer than cigarettes and can help people stop smoking.
Find your nearest NHS stop smoking service from the NHS Smokefree website, or call 0300 123 1044.
Email an expert
Read more about the stop smoking treatments available on the NHS.
Visit NHS Choices
Read these 10 tips to stop smoking.