Frequently asked questions

You may be viewing this page because you are thinking about stopping smoking or you have just stopped; either way well done on your decision to quit. If you have questions about any aspect of going smoke-free then this section may be of use.

If the answer to your question isn’t provided or you wish to book an appointment, contact the Help Me Quit team on 0800 085 2219 or request a call back.

What choices are there?

NHS stop smoking support is available free across Wales in the form of licensed stop smoking medication and weekly support sessions. Whichever Help Me Quit service you receive it will be delivered by a stop smoking expert. There are three types of support sessions available:

  • Groups with other smokers who want to be smoke free
  • 1:1 sessions in person
  • 1:1 sessions over the telephone

If you visit the services in your area page you will be able to see what support options are available in Wales.

When you use a Help Me Quit service your stop smoking expert will go through the different licensed stop smoking medications that are available. They will help you choose which medication may be best for you depending on your level of addiction, health, lifestyle and the way the medications work.

For information on the different licensed medication please visit the page stop smoking medication for more information.

Your stop smoking expert will have helped you select the licensed stop smoking medication that may work best for you but sometimes, especially if you’ve never tried it before, the medication you’ve chosen may not be the best option for you after all. Tell your stop smoking expert about any problems you are having with the medication and together you can choose something that will better suit your needs.

Attending Help Me Quit Services

The great news is that all Help Me Quit services are completely free including the licensed stop smoking medication. To give you the best chance of quiting smoking, you are encouraged to access expert stop smoking support and use a licensed stop smoking medication. By combining them both you are four times more likely to succeed compared to quitting alone. The only cost to you will be your time to attend your appointments.

Of course you can, the most important thing is to find a location and time that suits you. If you have to rearrange your appointment please contact your stop smoking expert and make alternative arrangements.

Research shows that the best way for you to stop smoking is with a group of other smokers allowing you to gain extra support and motivation on your smoke-free journey.

We understand that attending a group can be scary for some. However the idea of group support is that you can learn from other people who are trying to stop smoking. You will find out how other people deal with cravings or trigger situations, as well as helpful tips on getting the best from your licensed stop smoking medication.
You can talk as little or as much as you like and you will not have to stand up in front of the group. There is also an opportunity before and after the appointment to speak to your stop smoking expert confidentially.

Ideally you should maintain regular contact with your Help Me Quit service as you’re more likely to remain smoke free at the end of the course. However, we understand everyone’s reasons for stopping are different and your ability to attend may change. During your first appointment speak to your stop smoking expert about any concerns you may have. If your routine changes this doesn’t have to be a barrier to stopping smoking.

This will depend upon the service you decide to access. The Help Me Quit team will be able to answer this question when you choose a service.

It’s great that you keep trying to stop smoking. You are obviously really committed to improving your health and breaking free of the addiction. View your quit attempts not as failures but as new learning experiences and positive steps towards becoming smoke free.

Never give up giving up.

Most definitely. A number of the Help Me Quit services are able to access a telephone-based translation service that can translate over 150 languages. To find the services local to you please contact the Help Me Quit team for more information.

Many of the services are available in Welsh. To find the services local to you please contact the bilingual Help Me Quit team for more information.

Smoking and baby

Smoking makes it harder for your baby to get the oxygen and nourishment it needs. It can also place additional stress on your baby’s heart and affects the development of its lungs. If you are pregnant and smoke you have a greater risk of miscarriage, may have a difficult birth and risk having a low birth weight baby.

It is never too late to quit smoking. Quitting at any time during pregnancy reduces the risk of harm to your baby. However, planning to quit as early as you can means a better start to life for your baby.

Breastfeeding will give your baby a good start in life. If you quit smoking, you will no longer be passing on nicotine and other poisons from cigarette smoke to your baby through your breast milk. You will also cut down your baby’s exposure to tobacco smoke, which will help protect your child’s health. After the birth of your baby, smoking by either parent increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).

Smoking can release a drug in the brain that makes your body feel relaxed but it also speeds up your heart rate and increases your blood pressure. Smoking also cuts down the amount of oxygen and food reaching your baby. If you continue to smoke it is harmful to your baby and will not lower your stress levels. In fact after 3-4 weeks of quitting smoking most smokers say they are more relaxed and less stressed.

Setting a day to quit

Research has shown that more people successfully quit by stopping smoking completely, rather than cutting down in preparation to quit.
During the first couple of sessions your stop smoking expert will help you prepare to quit and look at any licensed stop smoking medication you may wish to use. Once you reach your quit date, you will get plenty of support to manage withdrawal symptoms and tips on how to prepare for trigger situations such as a night out or long car journey. If you are attending a group, the other members will be on the same journey and together with your stop smoking expert, will be with you every step of the way.

To benefit your health and your pocket the best thing that you can do is aim to become completely smoke free and quit for good.

Cutting down may seem like a good idea but you will be doing something called ‘compensatory smoking’. This means that, without realising it, you inhale more deeply or smoke more of each cigarette to compensate for smoking fewer cigarettes. This is bad for the body as you are still inhaling harmful tobacco smoke and remain addicted to nicotine. We recommend stopping completely because, although tough at first, you will soon feel the benefits and your urges to smoke become less frequent.

Electronic Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are not available on prescription as they are currently not licensed as a stop smoking medication. However, many smokers are using them to help them stop smoking. You can find further information on our e-cigarettes page.

This will depend upon the service you decide to access. The Help Me Quit team will be able to answer this question when you choose a service. Further information on e-cigarettes can be found here.

General Questions

When you quit smoking your appetite and sense of taste can improve, tempting you to snack more often. Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks available, like fruit and nuts. Any weight gain need only be temporary. Once you’ve stopped smoking, you’ll find it easier to be active and lose any extra weight that you may have gained.

There are over 4,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke of which approximately 70 are cancer causing. There are three main components of cigarette smoke; tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine.

 

Tar:

 

Tar is a known to be cancer causing and is the name given to all the other chemicals in the smoke particles; it is these that are linked to cancer, lung disease and heart disease.

 

Carbon monoxide:

 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly toxic colourless and odourless gas. It is one of the elements of cigarette smoke and when inhaled it takes the place of oxygen in red blood cells. Carbon monoxide in the bloodstream significantly reduces blood’s oxygen carrying capacity, which increases the heart’s workload, increases blood’s stickiness, affects concentration, and increases tiredness. The increase placed on the heart’s workload contributes to chronic heart disease and is associated with adverse affects in pregnancy.

 

Nicotine:

 

Nicotine is an extremely powerful drug and has addictive properties similar to those of heroin and cocaine. Nicotine is absorbed very quickly, reaching the brain within 7 – 10 seconds. Smokers often struggle to quit smoking because of their dependence on nicotine. Licensed stop smoking medication can assist smokers during their quit attempt to help them manage cravings and withdrawals, making quitting easier compared to quitting alone.

At present there are no Help Me Quit services which run social or online support groups.
However, if you are attending a stop smoking group you may want to discuss ongoing support with the other clients who are stopping smoking with you.