Family Tips to Quit Smoking
The UK went smoke-free at the beginning of July and thousands of smokers began trying to kick the habit. The Supernanny Team has essential tips for how the whole family can support the quitter and survive the difficult process.
Turn your home into a smoke-free zone
Take a deep breath. Can you smell that?
It’s the sweet scent of fresh air, and from the 1st July it’s been filling up your local pub, station and workplace. As the UK adjusts to our smoke-free surrounds, it's expected that thousands of smokers will use the new ban to kick the habit. And if you’re a parent, there are compelling reasons to give up.
You’re probably well-aware of smoking’s effect on your own body, but the habit has a devastating affect on your family too. Breathing in second-hand smoke increases your family’s risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%.
Children of smokers are also at greater risk of developing asthma, meningitis and ‘glue ear’, and catching colds, coughs and bugs (Source: NHS). As if that wasn’t enough, US studies have shown that 12 year olds whose parents smoked are twice as likely to take up smoking between the ages of 13 and 21, than children who grow up in a smoke-free house (Source: University of Washington).
Unfortunately, we all know that giving up isn’t easy. You’ll probably suffer cravings and are likely to experience bouts of depression, irritability, restlessness and sleep disruption. Whether you’re the one trying to quit or you’re helping a partner, here are some tips to make it easier.
For the quitter:
- Explain your plans to the whole family and make sure children understand that Mum or Dad might be grumpier than usual for a few weeks. Try to apologise if your mood makes you snap at them – children will take things personally if they don’t understand why you’re grouchy.
- Calculate how much you spend on cigarettes and plan a reward for giving up. Go to a local amusement park or organise a holiday with the money you’ve saved.
A pack a day smoker would save £1500 in one year by giving up
Take your partner or kids for a walk when you’d normally have a cigarette. Physical activity will improve your mood and keep your mind off your cravings. It’s also a good way to keep your weight down and increase energy levels.
- Avoid tempting situations or smoking friends who might persuade you to reach for a cigarette.
- Focus on your strengths – be proud of yourself for quitting and staying off cigarettes.
- Keep yourself busy – if you’re distracted you’re less likely to reach for a cigarette.
- Put it in writing. Make a personal promise to yourself to give up smoking once and for all.
For other family members:
- Be really patient, particularly in the first two weeks. There will be moments when you want to tear your (and your partner’s!) hair out, but it’s best to walk away, call a friend or busy yourself with another activity.
- Give plenty of praise – make little ‘congratulations’ messages and stick them around the house.
- Agree to kick a habit of your own – eating chocolate, watching TV or biting your fingernails. It might not be as hard to shake as smoking, but it will give you a small insight into how they’re feeling.
- Buy little gifts as a reward – a bunch of flowers (because now they’ll have re-gained their sense of smell!), or a restaurant meal.
- Let them vent. For a smoker, quitting can feel like losing a loved one, and they may need time to grieve. Give them a chance to sound off and talk about how they feel.
Giving up cigarettes may be one of the hardest things you ever do, but when your energy returns, your house smells fresh and your family is protected, you’ll be grateful you kicked the habit
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Find out more
- The NHS Go Smoke Free website has excellent resources for smokers who want to quit.
- QUIT is the UK charity that helps smokers to stop. You can call their freephone number, 0800 00 22 00, for help (available in English and other languages).
- Smokefree England has details on the nation-wide smoking ban and its effects.