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Can't Stop Lighting Up? How To Quit Social Smoking Once And For All

by Vivian KELLY Published on 12 March 2014

If you're a part-time puffer who can't resist lighting up when you're out, it's time to face up to your social-smoking habits. We're all aware of the dangers (cigarette packs hardly sugarcoat the outcome nowadays) but what actually gives us that unyielding urge to smoke when we're around others? And how can we tackle temptation? Time to reveal the truth about social smoking...

Irregular smoking, binge smoking, casual smoking - whatever you call it, either way you're still a smoker and quitting is the ONLY option to good health.

A true social smoker tends to light up in social settings when catching up with friends, drinking and going to parties. They don't tend to buy their own packs of ciggys and almost always smoke in the evening. Some wrongly believe that because they're only smoking every so often they're avoiding the dangers that come with lighting up, but don't be fooled.

According to recent studies, your risk of heart disease is tripled after only one cigarette per day, hardening and blackening your lungs while emerging a whole host of nasty health woes such as cancers, pre-mature ageing and respiratory problems.

So why can't we resist the social puff? Experts have revealed it's to do with a few underlying reasons...

Peer influence: Our need to feel a part of a group or social scene can trigger us to pick up bad habits we wouldn't necessarily do on our own.

Perception: Smoking is often seen as fashionable or a way to relieve stress and anxiety.

Acceptance: In social situations smoking is accepted and sometimes seen as a polite thing to do. But why smoke for the sake of smoking?

Not matter how little you're exposed to a puff of smoke you can't get away with the health risks associated with social smoking.

We know how difficult it can be to get yourself in the right direction, which is why we got chatting to online GP and owner of Doctor Fox, Dr Steele and Clinical Psychotherapist at The Pinnacle Practice, Dr Mardlin to fill us in on what we can do to combat the issue.

The best ways to remain smoke-free...

1. Be aware

Social smokers, on average, go through 37 cigarettes a week! A startling amount for just a part-time smoker. First, you need to get to grips with the damaging effects of smoking by effectively reasoning with yourself. Dr Mardlin says social smokers should be honest with themselves and analyse why it is they smoke, "What is their purpose for smoking?"

“When they answer this question, they should be honest. Then with each answer they should keep asking ‘for what purpose’, then see if the damage smoking does really helps them to meet this purpose.”

Basically, there's all kinds of pointless justification for social smoking, but if you keep asking yourself why you deem it so important, it won't take long to realise all your reasons for social smoking are actually pretty flimsy.

2. Moral support

Support from family, friends and colleagues is so important to your success so make sure you tell everyone about your decision to go smoke-free!

“Telling as many people as possible will mean there will be moral support, and encouragement to help with ‘wobbles’. Friends and family will also be less likely to offer cigarettes if they know a person is trying to quit,” says Dr Steele.

3. Tackle the causes

Once you recognise why you feel the need to social smoke you can start to tackle the root of your problem. Dr Mardlin says you should begin by working on the underlying reasons. For example, if it’s social anxiety and the smoker is purely smoking to blend in, addressing their lack of confidence is key."

4. Ask questions

This will help you to better understand and change your behaviour. Ask yourself...

  • ‘Do I really enjoy it?’
  • ‘What am I really getting out of this?’
  • ‘What would happen if I didn’t social smoke and why is that a problem?’

5. Avoid triggers

Triggers can make it tough for smokers to quit for good so make sure your in the know about your own personal smoking ticks. From alcohol to certain friendship groups - they can all influence you to light up.

Dr Steele says “Avoiding tempting situations can be key, particularly in the early stages. If a smoker is aware of these trigger factors and is able to steer clear of them for a few weeks, it will remove some of the temptation and help in the attempt to quit.”

6. Use smoking aids

From mints and medicated chewing gum to sprays and inhalators, nicotine replacement can help increase your chances of quitting smoking.

“Moments of weakness can appear unexpectedly, which is why it is important to have a handy nicotine replacement option handy if needed. The benefits of these products are that they deliver a short burst of nicotine quickly to the system to combat the craving without the smoker resorting to smoking with its harmful effects,” says Dr Steele.

To combat unpleasant withdrawal symptoms try NiQuitin Strips or the Nicotinell Patch as a fast-track aid.

7. Get your mates involved

There’s nothing more uplifting than a bit of team effort with your mates. Get them in on it and set goals together! Dr Mardlin says, “The social smoker could bring the issue of social smoking up with their circle of friends and raise the issue of wanting to quit. This works particularly well if several friends want to quit together and it can become a supportive contest.” Get them in on it!

8. Visit your GP

Don't be ashamed about your habit! There’s 1.1 million part-time and social smokers in Britain and most are in denial about the effects smoking has on them, but sometimes they too require medical attention. Dr Steele says,

“Prescribed options which gradually alter the way the brain responds to nicotine, making it less enjoyable and even repellent, can be used by social smokers who really struggle to kick their habit.”

9. Enjoy the Benefits

Social smokers who have more of a psychological than physical addiction to smoking will notice significant benefits of quitting smoking. Dr Steele says, “Improved concentration, greater lung capacity, and reduced infection will be noticeable, alongside other long-term benefits, such as improved heart health and reduced cancer risk.”

10. Believe in yourself!

Over a third of smokers (38%) believe they don't have the confidence to finally quit smoking. But self-belief is one of the most important traits you need to successfully quit for good!

According to a recent survey by Nicorette half of smokers think running a marathon or climbing a mountain would be easier than giving up smoking (which is far from true). One way to boost your confidence is simply by telling yourself you CAN do it! Post a sign on your bathroom mirror and stick a post it on your desk. Sounds cringe, but it can work wonders for you self-confidence.

What better day than to quit on No Smoking Day? Join others in the great British smokeout! Do you plan on quitting your social smoking habits? Tweet us @sofeminineUK

by Vivian KELLY

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