Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. But your body does start repairing itself as soon as you've smoked your last cigarette. Here are 7 excuses that smokers might use to delay quitting, and how to overcome them.
Excuse 1: The damage is done
You might feel that because you smoke, you've already increased your chance of getting cancer or another smoking-related disease, so quitting now won't make any difference.
In fact, as soon as you quit, your body starts to repair itself.
You'll notice improvements in your breathing and sense of taste and smell just a few days after stopping.
You'll also improve the health of your family and friends by not exposing them to passive smoking.
Excuse 2: I'll gain weight
Medical evidence shows that nicotine doesn't stop you getting hungry. Nicotine makes you burn calories faster, but as long as you remember that you need less food energy, quitting won't actually make you gain weight.
Try eating low calorie options and take up an activity instead of replacing cigarettes with food.
Excuse 3: I'll get stressed
Despite what you may think, nicotine doesn't calm you down.
Nicotine cravings between cigarettes make you feel stressed and anxious, so when you smoke the cigarette you feel calmer. But you'll feel less stressed once you quit and don't have cravings any more.
If you want a cigarette, wait for 10 minutes and the craving will usually pass. Take some deep breaths or go for a walk to relieve the stress and distract you from those cravings.
Excuse 4: It's not the right time to quit smoking
Although it's true that you shouldn't try to quit during particularly stressful times, don't use this as an excuse to never try quitting.
Pick a particular date, such as the beginning of a holiday or the beginning of a working week. Work out what makes you want a cigarette, such as having a cup of tea or going to the pub, and pick a day when you can avoid these triggers.
Telling lots of people that you're giving up will make you more likely to quit. You won't want to let them down, and you can ask smokers not to offer you cigarettes.
Excuse 5: Quitting will ruin my social life
For many smokers, cigarettes are an important part of their social life. You may class yourself as a social smoker, who only has a cigarette when you're with friends who smoke or during nights out. You may also have bonded with colleagues during cigarette breaks.
Although social smoking may seem better than smoking 40 a day, any cigarette smoking damages your health.
Excuse 6: Smoking looks good
For some people, holding a stick of tobacco wrapped in paper seems attractive and fashionable. Teenagers may think it makes them look older or cooler.
But many people find the sight of a smoker unattractive. Yellow fingernails, blackened fingers and a stained tongue are not a pretty sight.
Smoking also makes your complexion dull and prematurely ages your skin. If you don't want to look old before your time, it's a good idea to quit.
There's also the smell — cigarette smoke sticks to your hair and clothes long after you've had your last cigarette of the day. Some people think kissing a smoker is like 'kissing an ashtray'. If you'd prefer to smell fresher, now's the time to quit.
Excuse 7: I can't quit because I'm addicted
There is some truth in this. Smoking is an addiction that's undeniably tough to quit. But it's not impossible. With a lot of determination, you can do it.
To quit successfully, you need to deal with your chemical addiction to nicotine and the fact that smoking has become part of your daily routine.
The chemical addiction causes physical symptoms when you quit, such as tiredness, irritability and poor concentration. Your doctor can prescribe medication to replace the nicotine. There are counselling and support groups that can give you extra motivation to help you ignore your cravings.
Change your routine so that you replace smoking a cigarette with an alternative, such as a drink of water or another activity.
A great place to start is to check out the Quit Now website and its variety of information and tools to support you in quitting smoking.
The Quit Now: My QuitBuddy is a personalised interactive app with quit tips, daily motivational messages and countdown to quitting reminders. You can set your own goals, the reasons you're quitting, include photos and recordings of loved ones, and share tips and success stories in a community forum. If you’re pregnant, there is a specialised Quit for You Quit for Two app.
Or use the Quit Now Calculator to work out how much money you’re going to save.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2018