Smoking habits

Smoking is really addictive but if you understand why you smoke, it's a lot easier to break the cycle. Get info on the health impacts of smoking, common reasons people develop smoking habits, and find out what you can do if you're interested in giving up smoking.

You should read this if you:

  • Are a smoker not thinking of quitting
  • Are around smokers
  • Were ever a smoker
  • Could possibly end up a smoker
cigarette in ashtray

About smoking

People start smoking for lots of different reasons, and once they get into the habit, it can be pretty hard to stop. That's because smoking is both physically and mentally addictive. If you're a smoker, it's important to understand the reasons behind your habit, as well as the impacts of smoking on your health

Health impacts of smoking

Tobacco smoke contains nicotine - a stimulant drug - and a number of other chemicals including carbon monoxide, ammonia and tar. These substances have a number of negative impacts on your health including:

  • Physical addiction
  • Yellow nails and fingers
  • Wrinkles
  • Decreasing your ability to fight off illness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Decreased circulation
  • Stained teeth
  • Bad breath

In the longer term, smoking has some other really serious health impacts, including;

  • Increasing your risk of cancer in many parts of your body
  • Causing damage to your arteries, and increasing risk of heart disease
  • Increasing your risk of macular degeneration, an eye condition that can cause blindness
  • Causing damage to your lungs, increasing risk of emphysema and other lung problems (such as lung cancer)
  • Increasing your risk of gum disease
  • Increasing your risk of stroke

Smoking habits

Despite knowing smoking has a lot of negative health impacts, smoking can be a really difficult habit to break. That's because smoking is both physically and mentally addictive, which means people have to fight the other habits of smoking, as well as their  addiction to nicotine. If you understand your smoking habits, it makes giving up smoking much easier.

Smoking triggers

Certain situations and activities will often trigger a desire to smoke. These include

  • Talking on the phone
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking coffee
  • Watching someone else smoke
  • Working under pressure
  • Watching TV
  • Driving
  • After a meal

People also often feel a need to smoke in response to emotions they are feeling. Smoking is often used as a way to:

  • Manage stress
  • Manage weight
  • Overcome boredom
  • Overcome anger
  • Relax

It can be hard to quit without addressing these issues or finding alternative and more productive solutions.

Quit Tips

Once you understand the things that trigger your smoking, there are things you can do to overcome them. Some tips include:

  • Throw it out. It can help to throw out any visual reminder of smoking. Get rid of cigarettes, old empty packets, lighters and ashtrays - out of sight can help keep the desire for smoking out of mind.
  • Tell others. If you try and go it alone, it will be harder. Let people know you’re quitting so they can be there. If you know smokers, you might need to keep your distance for a bit. They’ll understand.
  • Understand cravings. If you have cravings, keep busy doing things you enjoy that don't involve smoking. Try and distract yourself with fun activities.

Quit Help

For information, counseling, referral to a treatment or support program and other assistance you can call Quitline, a national, youth friendly phone advisory service. It's available all around Australia at the cost of a local call. All callers are offered a Quit pack, containing the quit book and other info.

Phone: 13 7848 or 13 QUIT

For online support, check out QuitNow where you can get information on why and how to quit, with handy tips on what you can do.

What can I do now?

  • If you want to quit, look into using nicotine gum or patches.
  • Try and break habits like smoking at a party or with certain friends.
  • Talk to your doctor about your specific situation.
Last reviewed: 06 July, 2015
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