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Smoking

PUBLIC GUIDE: Smoking myths - busted

Our quick guide to dispelling some of the common myths about quitting smoking.

Myth 1: Switching to 'light' cigarettes is better

No. When you switch to ‘light’ or ‘mild’ brands, your body and brain will compensate for lower tar and nicotine levels by inhaling more deeply or smoking more of each cigarette.

Myth 2: Quitting ‘cold turkey’ is the only way

No. You’ll need willpower to quit, but you’ll more than triple your chances of keeping it up if you get support. Counselling, specialist medication and nicotine replacements are all proven to help. 

Myth 3: Nicotine replacement products are just as unhealthy as smoking

No. Even if you use nicotine replacements every day for years, it’s still safer than smoking. Nicotine replacements simply deliver nicotine, but cigarettes contain 4,000 other compounds, 60 of which are listed as carcinogens by the American Lung Association. 

Myth 4: Cutting down is good enough

No. Your body’s nicotine receptors are used to their daily ‘fix’ and they’ll be unsatisfied with less, so if you try and cut down, you’re more likely to inhale more deeply or smoke each cigarette to the bitter end. It’s far better to quit completely.

Myth 5: When you quit you will put on weight, which is just as unhealthy as smoking

No. Although it is true that micotine changes your appetite and metabolism, and it can be very tempting to replace cigarettes with little snacks - compared to the disastrous impact that smoking has your health, gaining a couple of pounds in the short term will not undo the benefits of giving up. If you adopt a good habits like heathy snacking on fruit and nuts, rather than high fat, sugar and calorie foods, and make the time to take some exercise, you will help keep any weight gain to a minimum, and maximise the number of years your "take off".