Why you smoke

Understanding why you smoke can help you recognise those moments when you’re likely to want to smoke, and get through them when trying to quit.

Talk to a trained adviser

on the Greater Manchester Stop Smoking Helpline: 0300 123 1044

Or find help to quit near you

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Common reasons why people smoke

These are the most common reasons smokers in Greater Manchester give for smoking

I smoke because I enjoy it

The nicotine you consume while smoking releases dopamine, a chemical in your brain that creates feelings of pleasure. It’s what makes you feel relaxed after a few puffs, so it’s not surprising that many smokers say that they smoke because they like how it makes them feel. This reaction is similar to that seen with other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

I smoke because I’m stressed or anxious

Many smokers think that smoking helps them deal with stress and anxiety but in fact the opposite is true – smoking increases the stress and anxiety that you feel. Whilst the nicotine in cigarettes creates an immediate sense of relaxation, this is short-lived and quickly leads to anxiety as the body craves another cigarette.

I smoke because I’m addicted

If you think you smoke because you’re addicted, you’re right. But you’re not alone. More than two thirds of people who try a cigarette go on to become daily smokers. That’s because nicotine is a highly addictive substance. But the good news is that most of those people also go on to successfully quit smoking, and you can too!

I smoke to get a bit of ‘me time’

For many people nipping out for a cig is a way to take a short break during their busy day. Whether it’s for a few minutes away from work, your kids, your partner or just everyday life, a cigarette break is a great excuse for a few moments to yourself.

I smoke when I’m socialising

Lots of people smoke when they’re in a social situation. It’s convenient. Others are doing it and you don’t want to miss out on the conversation when they all head outside to have a cigarette. Many people think cigarettes taste better with a drink. And if you’re out and meeting new people, having a cigarette can feel like a good way to calm any nerves.

I smoke because it’s part of my every day routine

If you’re a regular smoker, you might find yourself sparking up almost without thinking about it.

Have you restarted smoking after quitting?

If you’ve stopped smoking before and then restarted, you might feel you just can’t quit. In fact, it’s the opposite – you’ve proved you can quit smoking, even if just for a few days. Most people try to stop smoking several times before finally quitting for good. A little forward planning before your next attempt will make you more likely to succeed.

Understanding nicotine addiction

Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs. That’s why so many people who try smoking go on to become regular smokers, at least for a while.

When nicotine reaches the brain, it boosts levels of a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel relaxed or happy. When people use nicotine for an extended period, it leads to changes in the balance in their brain, making it harder for the brain to produce dopamine without nicotine. This is why you crave cigarettes.

The good news is that, when you stop smoking, your brain stops wanting nicotine fairly quickly. The cravings usually peak after 1–3 days, and then decrease over 3–4 weeks. After this time, the body has expelled most of the nicotine.

As anyone who’s tried to quit will tell you, the biggest challenge is getting through those first few days of intense nicotine withdrawal and the following weeks as you try to teach your body to stop expecting nicotine.

Ways to quit

Stop smoking aids and support can help you to quit.

With support

Smokers who quit with support from other people, whether trained advisers or family and friends, are more likely to quit successfully.

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Going it alone

Even if you choose not to ask others for support, stop smoking aids can help you deal with cravings when you quit.

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