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​Top 10 Reasons People Fail to Quit Smoking

23rd May 2024

Top 10 Reasons People Fail to Quit Smoking

  1. Fear of losing weight
  2. Withdrawal symptoms difficulties
  3. The myth that cigarettes relieve stress
  4. Association with everyday activities
  5. Changes to social circles and situations
  6. Damage is already done – why stop now?
  7. Fear of relapsing again
  8. The reduced effect of NRT’s
  9. Costs associated with quitting – counselling etc
  10. Difficulties understanding vaping

The evidence is damning for quitting cigarettes. Roughly one in ten quit smoking successfully each year and there is a simple explanation for that. It is an addictive product of which the habit is usually formed over many years. Smoking has been around for decades, and yet it is still available in every shop. We’ve understood the medical risks of smoking for just as long and yet it’s still a multi-billion-pound industry.

Millions fail to quit each year and continue to smoke because it’s very difficult to give up. Nicotine replacement therapies (NRT’s) exist to give six million smokers in the UK the best chance of quitting permanently and not relapsing. Simple and practical Vape Kits have been around for nearly twenty years now and were designed as a suitable replacement for cigarettes for adults who are struggling to stop smoking.

Below, we want to summarise the main reasons people struggle to quit and what can be done about it.

Worried About Putting on Weight?

Weight gain is a major concern for many in the UK. The NHS even reports that 1 in 4 adults are obese and sometimes dieting or hitting the gym is not enough. If you’re wondering why you don’t see many overweight smokers, the answer is simple – the chemical nicotine which is found in cigarettes acts as an appetite suppressant. This means you’re less likely to want to indulge in heavy snacks between meals and keep off gaining additional pounds. Nevertheless, despite its ‘benefits’ for putting on weight, a person who smokes should be far more worried about the health risks of continuing to smoke.

Man sitting on sofa looking stressed

Intensity of Withdrawal Symptoms

However, in many cigarettes you smoked in the past, the withdrawal symptoms (mainly from nicotine) can be too intense for some people to handle. Symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Intense cravings
  • Increase in appetite

If any one of these symptoms feels like too much to bear, it can often lead to a moment of ‘weakness’ where you once again reach for a cigarette. This is a natural reaction – so have no fear! It’s all part of the process of giving up smoking and can happen to anyone at any time.

Following two to four weeks of this higher level of withdrawal intensity, these moments of difficulty will reduce and feel much easier to manage.

Do Cigarettes Relieve Stress?

According to the UK Mental Health Foundation, 74% of all adults felt stressed at some point in the last year, with the feeling of being unable to cope with the pressure of day-to-day life.

Naturally, when you feel stressed you need something to cope with the emotions and difficulties stress can present to your mind and body.

Stress can impact your digestive system, cause insomnia and even lead to suicidal thoughts if not managed correctly.

The correlation between stress and smoking is evident. There is a myth that smoking helps to cope with stress. In part, this is true short term as the instant hit of nicotine can create a dopamine-rewarding effect. However, this quickly wears off and later leads to higher levels of stress.

Because nicotine in cigarettes can cause a sense of relaxation in the moment, release tension or improve concentration, smokers turn to smoking in times of need. But you also need to consider that the time in between cigarettes can also lead to feelings of being on edge and craving cigarettes even more.

For a short while, dopamine levels will be deficient, which spikes when you smoke. But over time that will pass and you will have greater steady levels produced naturally over time without inhaling a product that not only contains nicotine but thousands of other dangerous toxins which can be very harmful to the mind and body.

All Activities Will Feel Different Without a Cigarette

As a smoker, what is the first thing you do when you wake up? More than likely, you reach for a cigarette and scroll through news or social media on your phone. What about at work on your lunch break? If the nicotine cravings are intense, as they are for so many smokers, you can be counting down the minutes to go outside for a puff.

What about as we said earlier with friends at a BBQ or on a walk? There are countless situations throughout the day where smoking can be associated with everyday activities. Even driving to or from a destination often leads to lighting up a cigarette for those with an addiction.

Certain cues and habits throughout the day where you smoked in the past will be challenging to carry out without a cigarette in hand. This is why vaping has become so popular as an alternative. It’s the same hand-to-mouth action as smoking, while also containing nicotine, but without worrying chemicals such as tobacco which lead to long-term illness or even death.

The more cigarettes you smoke, the more often during the day you’ll associate with something you do daily. Even human emotions such as stress or worry often lead to grabbing a cigarette.

When you’re triggered by these events or situations, recognising through awareness and concentrating on the bad points of cigarettes, and replacing them with something healthier will help in your quit-smoking attempt.

Cigarette in bowl with 2 people in the background

Social Peer Pressure

Smokers also fail to quit because of peer pressure, particularly in social situations. Smoking often starts at a young age to fit in with a group of friends. Once you familiarise yourself with cigarettes and get used to them, it’s very difficult to quit even at a later stage in life.

Although many are aware of the dangers smoking poses, it’s when hanging out with friends or colleagues at parties, events or even work breaks, that giving up cigarettes becomes twice as difficult and not relapsing can prove an uphill battle.

Take for instance on a night out at your local bar or club. Even the smell alone can be enough to turn someone back to their former habits. You are with a group of friends who smoke and want to head out to the smoking area. To some, it may seem more strange to stay on your own inside following the UK public smoking ban of 2006.

Even if you don’t smoke, social pressure and anxiety are real as are the dangers of just being around those who inhale cigarette smoke. If you can say no in social situations and resist temptation, you’re halfway there to quitting and are showing real determination and commendable willpower to quit for good.

Why Stop Now – the Damage is Done?

The same can be said for most addictions. Why stop when the damage is there already? With a mindset of ‘how can it get worse’, or even mentally telling yourself 'all will be ok’, this is where the biggest damage sets in.

Whether that’s eating one more doughnut or drinking the fifteenth cup of coffee, addiction is real.

But is it too late once you start smoking to stop?

The simple answer – it’s never too late!

Even if you have smoked 20 a day for 40 years, yes your lungs will be in a much worse position than when you started. But the NHS and pretty much any medical expert on the planet will tell you soon as you stop smoking, your health will gradually begin to improve within the first 24 hours.

And better yet, after ten years, your chances of lung cancer halve compared to someone who still smokes.

It will be difficult to stop – there is no doubt about it. You may in a moment of weakness tell yourself, even with a serious illness that the comfort of smoking is all that keeps you going. Or the fear of giving up smoking will make you more unhappy.

These thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you give up smoking, your mind and body will appreciate it straight away.

Fear of Relapsing Again

Once you’re hooked on cigarettes, for some it’s near impossible to give up. Many chain smoke more than a pack of 20 a day despite recognising the risks and the warnings on packaging that smoking kills. But for some, the fear of trying to quit if you haven’t done so already and relapsing back to cigarettes is just as worrying.

The cravings from not having a cigarette and the dependency on the same level of nicotine can feel too strong to resist, which is why they say once you get past that first month without a cigarette, you’re five times more likely to quit permanently.

For smokers looking to quit with no help, the worrying statistics highlight that 80% relapse within the first month and a very high 97% in six months. With four or more quit attempts needed on average, the statistics may cause concern among those looking to quit.

But the risks of continuing to smoke trump every stat about relapses. As the saying goes, get back on the horse and keep trying because eventually it will stick and you will feel better in the future.

NRT’s Are Not Working

If you want to quit smoking for good, fantastic news!

There are many ways to achieve this goal and you’ll need all the help you can get. Nicotine replacement therapies have been around for decades and are effective, but their impact depends on the individual.

Whether a nicotine patch a day or constant use of nasal or mouth sprays does the trick can sometimes not feel like enough to combat the urge for a cigarette. Read our latest blog on the effect of NRTs vs vaping as the latter is now under consideration by many smokers as a smarter alternative to smoking.

Speech bubble of quote from customer Laura

Does it Cost More to Quit?

We are in the midst of a financial crisis as the UK economy tries to get back on its feet following several social and health-related concerns, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The UK government has looked at lots of ways to bring down inflation with all types of products increasing in price. Those considered luxury items, whether good or bad, such as cigarettes or vapes, have faced increased taxation to encourage quitting either/both but to also bring in more money for the economy to share around.

Although millions consider quitting smoking daily, there are also concerns about giving up cigarettes. For instance, fears about relapsing and smoking even more will cost. Then there are associated costs with quitting such as counselling treatments, and the price it costs for NRT’s, such as prescriptions and other nicotine replacements.

At the end of the day, you have to think about your health and how much cigarettes cost depending on your habits. If you smoke 20 a day (the average), it’s nearly £15 a day now in the UK.

That’s over £5000 a year! So there may be some worrying costs associated with quitting, but think about it as an investment in your future, saving your health and improving your wealth.

Are Vapes Too Complicated?

Despite the clear visual and habitual similarities between vaping and smoking, there are only some vape kits that are considered easy enough to pick up and use straight away out of the pack.

Smokers can be quite easily put off by vaping or give up at the first attempt of switching because it may seem too confusing to swap cigarettes for an electrical product that requires knowledge of coils, Ohms, wattage, e-liquids, tanks and pods.

All of these terms may seem daunting but are easy to pick up and understand once you’ve got the basics.

Read our vape glossary here for a simple guide to the key terms and components of a vape.

This is why disposable vapes have been so popular the past few years (despite opposition) and why prefilled pods are the future for convenient vaping and those looking to switch from cigarettes successfully.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from the list above, there are lots of reasons that put people off quitting smoking, at least initially, from wanting to hang out with friends who also smoke, worrying about weight gain or fear of relapsing. But also it’s important to recognise that these are just thoughts that will pass. And once they do, especially if you pass that six-month initial period without a cigarette, you’ll be on the right track to feel better within yourself and save a truckload of money in the process.

If you seek any help or advice regarding using vape products as an alternative, at V2 Cigs UK we have over twelve years of experience and are happy to help with advice wherever we can.

Read our disclaimer on Vaping and Smoking Cessation