Man smoking a cigarette

Stoptober 2020 is here, and there has never been a better time to quit

Words provided by Solutions 4 Health, editorially reviewed by Public Sector Executive

Smokers may have a greater risk of complications of Covid-19, so a new personalised robo-coach and online support make Stoptober the perfect time to kick the habit for good

In these uncertain times, smokers may be more likely to have serious complications from Covid-19, making Stoptober 2020 the perfect time to quit. You’re four times more likely to quit for good if you have support, and while face-to-face services are on hold, new technologies are coming into their own. You can get one-to-one support and nicotine replacement therapy from a stop smoking advisor online, and download the new artificial intelligence app, Quit with Bella, for support when you need it most, 24/7.   

Smoking affects the lungs, and so does Covid-19. The repeated hand-to-mouth action provides an easy route of infection for viruses to enter your body, and smoking weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight them off. This could explain why some hospitals are finding that smokers are more likely to suffer serious complications of Covid-19.

Notably, the risks of Covid-19 for smokers are worse if you have another health problem as well, such as being overweight, having a heart condition, or having a condition that affects your breathing such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – and smoking can even cause some of these. The same risks apply to smoking shisha.

There has never been a better time to quit, and a million people kicked the habit between the start of the pandemic and July. Quitting is not easy, but it’s not impossible. You’re four times more likely to go from smoker to quitter if you use a support service compared to going it alone. There is lots of support available, and thanks to the recent evolution of online services, it’s more accessible than ever.

Solutions 4 Health are the UK's leading stop smoking service, with nearly 20 years’ experience supporting people through their quit attempts. Their Smokefreelife advisors are available through free online face chat, over the phone and by text. Quitting smoking is very personal and what works for you is unique to you. Working with an advisor means you can get personalised support to work through your own goals and anything that’s holding you back. There’s no need to travel anywhere or go to any clinics.

One quitter said: “Your calls every week perk me up, you are so easy to talk to and have helped me a lot.”

Advisors can also prescribe nicotine replacement therapy to ease the cravings in the challenging early days and weeks. It’s the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke that damage the body, not the nicotine. But it’s the nicotine that’s addictive and gives you cravings, making you feel stressed and fidgety in between cigarettes. This means replacing the nicotine with products such as chewing gum, skin patches, medicines or e-cigarettes will ease the cravings while causing far less harm to your body.

You can also download the stop smoking app, Quit with Bella. It’s a ground-breaking app that uses artificial intelligence to provide you with 24/7 support. Using the app is a lot like talking to a person. You can have a natural, free flowing conversation and Bella will give you tips, advice and encouragement. She’s funny too, and can even provide vouchers for free NRT and e-cigarettes in some areas. She’s your personalised, quit smoking robo-coach.

Another quitter explained: "I like expressing myself to someone who isn't a human or judgemental about my situation. Bella gives me really useful advice."

Bella was created using knowledge from hundreds of stop smoking experts as well as research evidence and user feedback, so she uses the same evidence-based techniques that a real person would. You can also join the online Bella Community to share experiences and get support from people who know what it’s like to quit.

The moment you quit, your body will thank you for it. Within minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure will fall. Within days, the cravings will start to ease off, the carbon monoxide will clear from your blood, and your lungs will start to clear. Within weeks, your breathing will get easier. After a year, your risk of heart disease will half, and eventually will fall to that of someone who has never smoked. 

A third quitter commented: “With having Asthma and the risk Covid-19 can have to the lungs, I am so glad I stopped, my only regret is I didn't quit sooner”, said one quitter.

As well as better physical health, stopping smoking can boost mental health and wellbeing. It can improve your finances too, as this quitter explained: “After just 12 weeks from not smoking I managed to save £825.85! I feel generally healthier, sharper and no longer smell of smoke!”

Don’t be put off if you’ve made quit attempts in the past. It often takes several attempts, and the chances of quitting for good go up with every attempt you make. With support from a robo-coach, a real-life coach or both, you can have a smoke free life.

Tips for quitting, courtesy of Bella the robo-coach

  • Change your routine so you can avoid situations where you want to smoke.
  • ​​​​​​​Practice saying no to situations and people that encourage you to smoke, and don’t feel guilty about it.
  • ​​​​​​​Put the money you used to spend on cigarettes in a jar and watch it add up.
  • ​​​​​​​If you live with people who smoke, make sure you have some time away for a walk, or talk to them about how hard you’re trying to quit.

Learn more about one-to-one support with Smokefreelife from Solutions 4 Health or download Quit with Bella from the Play Store or App store.

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