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What is chain smoking?

Chain smoking involves a person smoking continually - as soon as one cigarette is discarded, another it lit up and smoked straight after. Yourself or someone you know who is a heavy smoker could be unaware of the extremity of their smoking habits if it has become part of their routine. It’s important to recognise the impact that the act of chain smoking can have on your health and to make positive changes to your lifestyle to protect yourself and those around you. 

In this article we’ll discuss some of the dangers of chain smoking, as well as how you can ease your way into breaking the habit and quitting smoking for good. 

Dangers of chain smoking

Smoking presents many dangers to yourself (and others through secondhand smoke) and is alarmingly one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, with approximately 78,000 smoking-related deaths reported a year (NHS).

Chain smoking (and just smoking in general) can increase the risk of developing and experiencing the following:

  • Some cancers, including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and kidney cancer to name a few.
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Damaged arteries and blood vessels
  • Heart attacks
  • Pneumonia
  • Fertility issues (for both men and women) and impotence in men 
  • Worsening or prolonging of respiratory conditions such as asthma and respiratory tract infections
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - this disease causes a blocks to the airflow and breathing issues such as chronic bronchitis
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes 

Smoking can also impact your ability to handle stress and you may not be able to think as clearly. As chain smoking involves smoking a significant number of cigarettes, the health risks associated with smoking are higher. 

How to stop chain smoking

Stopping smoking is challenging enough, but for chain smokers who are used to lighting up one cigarette after another, it can be even tougher to cut down. Smoking is highly addictive, which is why you need to keep a positive mindset and stay motivated throughout the process of breaking your smoking habits - here are some top tips for how to stop chain smoking:

Set yourself some goals

If you dive in the deep end and go cold turkey without having established your smoke-stop goals, you’re going to struggle. Make sure that you take the time to note down what your goals are, i.e. how many cigarettes do you want to cut out per day in your first week? What date would you like to stop smoking by? 

It’s important for you to set SMART goals which are realistically achievable so you can see success. 

Avoid triggering situations

From standing near smoking areas and hanging out with friends who smoke to drinking alcohol, everyone has different triggers which tempt them to light up a cigarette. You should try your best to avoid these situations where possible to make quitting easier on yourself. 

Firstly, identify what your triggers are so that you’re more aware of what you need to stay clear of. Secondly, try to plan ahead and make changes to your routine based on these triggers. For example, if you’d usually spend breaks at work with a colleague who smokes, consider spending that time going for short walks to clear your mind and get some fresh air. 

Try a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine found inside cigarettes is highly addictive, and is a big reason behind why people smoke and struggle to stop. NRT is a type of medication which contains small amounts of nicotine (and excludes carbon monoxide, tar and other poisonous chemicals found in smoke) and can help to reduce withdrawal effects such as cravings which can make staying away from cigarettes muhc harder. 

NRT comes in many forms, including patches, chewing gum, spays (for use in the nose or mouth) and tablets - so you can find a form of NRT which works best for you. Whilst there isn’t yet clear evidence as to which type of NRT is most effective, using more than one type of NRT is likely to see more positive results. Most NRT treatments will last 8-12 weeks and then you’ll gradually reduce the amount you have before stopping altogether. 

If you’d like to try NRT, it could be a good idea to speak to a health professional first. 

Switch to e-cigarettes 

E-Cigarettes (also known as vapes) are electronic devices that give the user nicotine in the form of vapour without delivering other harmful chemicals found in smoke such as carbon monoxide. Not only has research suggested that using e-cigarettes can help you to give up smoking by allowing you to control your nicotine intake, they have other benefits too, such as saving you money in the long-run and being available in a range of flavours. 

Learn more about how vaping is better than smoking and find out what happened when Carola switched cigarettes for vaping

Try to be more active

Engaging in more physical activities and being active can be a great way to distract yourself from cravings and allow you to clear your mind. When you exercise, withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes decrease (according to Smokefree,  this positive effect can last for up to 50 minutes following exercise). 

Keep a diary

Logging your progress and jotting down your thoughts and feelings as you try to smoke less is a great way to keep you on track. Whether you’re experiencing good or bad emotions, writing these down allows you to reflect on those feelings and you can compare your earlier thoughts to those you experience later in your smoke-stop journey.  

Remind yourself why you’re quitting

There are so many reasons why you should consider stopping chain smoking and smoking in general, but you need to remember your personal reasons for wanting to quit. Whether you’re concerned for your health, the health of your family as a result of secondhand smoke, you want to save money or you’re looking to be more active, you should keep reminding yourself of why you’re stopping smoking. For example, you could make a note of how much money you’re saving each month by not buying cigarettes or you could keep a picture of your family with you. 

Get support

Letting family and friends know that you want to break your chain smoking habits and asking for support can really help to keep you on track. If those who are close to you are aware of the changes you’re making to your lifestyle, they can be more understanding (for example, any other smokers you live with could ensure they smoke away from you). 

It can also be beneficial to seek support from a health professional such as our team of coaches and advisors here at LiveWell Dorset, as they can ensure you’re safely progressing. 

Share your progress and celebrate each success!

From cutting out a couple of cigarettes a day to going a week without smoking at all, celebrate each and every milestone no matter how big or small you think it is - and make sure your friends and family members hear about it too! You could also decide to treat yourself when you complete one of the goals you’ve set yourself - these treats could include taking a trip with some friends, taking a relaxing bath or getting your hair done...whatever makes you feel happy (as long as it’s not treating yourself to another cigarette!). 

Looking for support to stop smoking? 

If you live in Dorset and you’d like support to stop smoking, we’re here to help! With a team of professional coaches and advisors ready to guide you each step of the way, you can learn how to break your chain smoking habit with LiveWell Dorset. Simply register or have a chat with us today to start your journey to become smoke-free. 

Lynette

"The LiveWell team are amazing. Every time I speak to them, they are so helpful. Having someone on the end of the phone is an amazing boost."

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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