Belfast’s gay bars will become the latest to go smoke-free today, as Northern Ireland becomes the second part of the UK to enforce a smoking ban.
Bans are already in place in the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
Only England remains, where LGBT people only have until the end of June to continue to smoke in enclosed public places like bars and clubs.
A study carried out amongst gay and bisexual men for the NHS Smoking Helpline found that 41% of gay and bisexual men are smokers, rising to 60%for 25 to 34 year olds, well in excess of the national average of 25%.
While health risk messages seem to be getting through loud and clear – 91% of respondents know that quitting will improve their health – nearly a third have never tried to give up, the research found.
It also seems that the vast majority don’t actually enjoy their habit, overwhelmingly confirming that they “dislike stale tobacco breath” (77%) and “dislike the smell of tobacco on clothes” (74%).
When it comes to choosing a partner, smoking also proves to be a big turn off – even for other smokers.
Nearly two thirds confirm that smoking makes people look less attractive, with nearly half actually preferring not to kiss a smoker.
The NHS estimate that 12,000 gay men die from smoking related diseases every year, vastly more than die from HIV/AIDS.
To help gay smokers in England and Wales kick the habit in time for the June 30th ban, Ben and Ian from NiQuitin have provided these Top 10 tips to quitting smoking.
1. Take one day at a time.
How long do you think you’ll last without a cigarette? Forget about tomorrow and the next day. Keep it immediate – no fags TODAY, that’s it. Your expectations won’t be too high and you’ll be WELL chuffed at the end of each and every day.
2. Increased lung capacity.
SERIOUSLY underrated that fresh air stuff, we found. Every single smoke free day, your lungs are saying cheers. The difference is amazing even after a couple of weeks, your lungs have started to clear.
You’ll notice the difference as soon as you run for a bus or to the bar. Give your body time to clear itself out – it’s the coolest thing in the WORLD that it does.
3. More loose change!
Kerching! Put aside the money you would have spent on cigarettes. Watch it mount up and your smile grow. Then spend it on something that’s a real treat.
The thought that treat came from money you would normally have spent on shortening your life-span should make you smile wider than front row seats at a Kylie concert. We spent it on new cars. OK, so we didn’t save THAT much THAT quickly, but we were thinking of the future…
4. Peer pleasure (or more like friendly support).
Tell your friends you’re quitting and MAKE SURE THEY ARE ON YOUR SIDE – especially the ones that still smoke. They will be there for you. They’ll enjoy some of the funniest (“Oh you ARE a comic genius”) jokes known to man at your expense first, but they will get there, some of them might even join you in quitting (one of ours did).
Here’s some tips for the little loves:
– Don’t offer them any fags!
– Understand why they’ve quit. If temptation gets in their way, remind them why they decided to quit
– Take your mate shopping after a week or two. They can buy something nice with the money saved by not smoking. No, not for you…
– Join them in their quit. If not then try not to smoke as much as you would around them
– Answer the phone calls whatever time, they might just need to hear that smoking is NOT the next best thing…
Obviously, your loved ones should be helping here. Ian’s wife didn’t smoke anyway, so that was a good start. The fact that she mentioned that she was inclined to kiss him more often as he no longer tasted like an ashtray, swayed opinion somewhat.
Tell your parents, relatives, girlfriends, boyfriends, the postman and the strange guy at the bus stop. People WILL be there to help you.
6. Friendship – It takes two.
Quitting with a friend is a top of the class idea. The fact that we work together as well as drink and smoke(d) together was a big plus.
It meant that we were there for each other to moan at / shout at / hit at most times – coffee break cigarette, after lunch cigarette, end of the day cigarette, down the pub cigarettes, hanging from the chandelier cigarettes.
On more than one occasion, we phoned or texted each other at stupid hours to offload about our cravings.
7. Throwing ourselves in the deep end?
We threw ourselves in at the deep end. Ian’s main time for smoking was the pub. Any pub. Didn’t matter. Ben wasn’t exactly nonchalant about having a fag down the pub either. The thought of taking away cigarettes was bad.
The thought of taking away the other thing we loved in life was frankly down-right tragic. So on our quit day, we went to the pub after work. We’d read all about the fact that for the first week or so of a quit attempt you should stay away from smoky places.
However, our theory was that we might as well find out early if our willpower was strong enough to take kicking cigarettes. It was. It was one of the hardest nights we’d had. But we egged each other on and talked about the first, second and third things that came into our minds – ANYTHING.
Once we’d got through that, we knew that anything else was going to be a walk in the park. A walk littered with big holes and large obstacles, but nonetheless…
8. Online quitting support with Click2Quit.com.
We followed the 10 week Click2Quit support plan program that was tailored for us and provided us with another outlet of support.
The plan is also clinically proven to increase a smokers chances of stopping smoking* – that’s gotta be alright! Although we had each other to nag, it was great to talk to others about their quitting experiences and good to see we weren’t the only ones who felt like we’d lost a best mate.
The site was full of hints and tips that were invaluable and simply added to what we’re finding out ourselves.
9. Healthy eating.
Fairly tempting to buy the contents of your newsagent’s choccy shelf when you’ve knocked the fags on the head we can tell you. It took a bit of getting used to, but we started by chopping up pieces of carrot and celery every morning and munching our way through them whenever a craving arose.
We swiftly cleared out the supermarket in the surrounding area. Handy really all that veg, because now we can see in the dark and are completely rehydrated…
10. Office support.
There’s a lot to be said for anger management. It’s pretty important that you tell your work colleagues you’re quitting smoking as you MIGHT get a bit of leeway after telling them to stuff their Excel spreadsheet where the sun doesn’t shine around about the mid-morning fag break time.
We left NiQuitin Lozenges everywhere. Our desks, Phil’s desk, Al’s desk, Nicky’s desk. Everywhere. Members of the team even started carrying Lozenges FOR us lest we forget them – unlikely, as there were even Lozenges in the toilet at one point.
But, if you’re using NiQuitin Lozenges store them EVERYWHERE you are likely to need them (all coats, jeans, bags…) And if you don’t get asked to lunch anymore it might be time to stop screaming at people.
NiQuitin Lozenges are a stop smoking aid. Contains nicotine. Requires willpower. Always read the label.