Quitting Smoking

Quitting Smoking

In this article we’ll look at why it can be so hard to quit smoking.

Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking?

This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078

Thanks to the addictive qualities of nicotine, quitting smoking is often one of the hardest things people have to do. While some people may be able to quit cold turkey, for many others it isn’t that easy. In our article below we’ll look at some of the reasons why quitting can be so hard.

Withdrawal Symptoms

As we mentioned above, nicotine is highly addictive. It is a stimulant that can provide temporary relief from feelings of anxiety or depression. However, between cigarettes the levels of nicotine in the brain drops. This causes withdrawal which can heighten feelings of stress.

The stress of withdrawal feels the same as other types of stress, so it’s easy to perceive smoking as reducing your other stresses. Unfortunately, cigarettes only relieve the stress that they themselves have caused. In fact, it’s been shown that people who smoke have higher stress levels than people who don’t. [1]

Some people who smoke have a greater dependence on cigarettes than others, meaning that they may experience more extreme withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.

Physical symptoms of withdrawal like restlessness, irritability, and headaches typically go away after a few days or weeks, but cravings may stick around longer.


Smokers often associate certain activities, places, and people with smoking. For example, you might always smoke after a meal, at the pub, or in the car. It’s these habits that can be surprisingly hard to break as they can ‘trigger’ your urge to smoke, because your body becomes conditioned to associate them with nicotine.

People also find that they enjoy the activity of smoking, like the hand-to-mouth action, taste, smell, and the ‘catch’ in the throat from the smoke.

For tips on how to quit smoking, check out our article: Top Tips for Quitting Smoking.

Stop Smoking

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6402150/