Smoking Cessation on the NHS

There’s a stop smoking promotion by NHS England called ‘Stoptober’, presumably because this scheme was launched in the month of October.

Stoptober is the conventional approach – discouraging. They seem to recognize this fact and try to make a joke of it:

Welcome to Day 1 of Stoptober. Now, it’s fair to say that this is the toughest day. Why? Because people keep coming up to you telling you it’s the toughest day.

Day 2. You may also feel a bit dizzy… carbon monoxide has disappeared from your body and your lungs will start to clear of (sic) mucus and other toxins. (I didn’t know mucus was a toxin.)

Day 3. GRRRRRRRRR!!!! (sic)… If you are feeling a bit emotional or moody, don’t worry that’s normal and it will get easier. Tell your friends and family that you might be a little snappy for a couple of days

Inevitably, there’s dumbed down vulgarity and innuendo:

Day 4. Just think, on your next night out, you can get ejected from a nightclub, spill a kebab down your top, get told to p*** off by an attractive member of the opposite sex and – if you haven’t smoked – it’s still a triumph!

Day 5…it’s not because you honk like Fireman Sam’s jockstrap…

Day 12. Let’s talk about sex! Stopping smoking increases blood flow and circulation (what’s the difference?) all over your body – which increases arousal for both men and women. So keep it up! If you know what we mean.

Back to Day 3. A link to Facebook reveals an appeal from a desperate-sounding woman:

wish u had more info on here as to the different things that stopping smoking can make u feel, ie , spaced out lack of concentration, which isn’t good when ur driving, just nodding off , lack of sleep at night, constant urge for loo, xtra peeing, achy eatling more , bloating , wind, . it would help more people if these subjects were covered on this official site , its not always about the craving, I want to understand whats going on with my body and why its affected in this way, it is that what keeps my incentive up, but would love more info

She’s on the right lines (even if her literacy is wobbly) but nobody does explain it to her. These unpleasant feelings are accepted as if they’re a normal and inevitable part of stopping smoking and the best that can be done is to ‘support’ quitters through this difficult time by motivational sound bites. I sympathize with this woman and the many others who use Facebook to air their problems.

Day 21. Discouragement is thrown at you again:

Stopping smoking is tough but…The fact that you’ve made it this far means you’ve got fantastic willpower. 

In spite of stopping smoking being tough (they told you that on Day 1) you’ve succeeded so far through willpower! So that’s the secret of stopping smoking – for three weeks anyway – willpower! But what if your willpower falters?

Fortunately, however, all this is nonsense. There’s no need to struggle like this. It all depends on the attitude one brings to quitting. If you’ve been told to expect you’ll go through hell, that’s likely what will happen. On the other hand, if you’re helped to understand why you really smoke in the first place and what happens when you stop poisoning yourself with nicotine and approach quitting with the right attitude, in practice you are likely to experience very little difficulty.

How to stop smoking without tears is explained in my book..

Text © Gabriel Symonds