Stopping smoking and diabetes

There are now more ways than ever to get effective help to give up smoking – a critical step towards diabetes control. The message is clear: the benefits of quitting are well worth it – so keep trying! Here we tell you why and how.


Why quit?

Everyone risks damaging their health through smoking a cigarette, pipe or cigar, but if you have diabetes the risks are even greater. If you have diabetes you will know that you are already at greater risk of developing certain diseases. If you smoke as well, these risks become higher. The good news is that quitting smoking is something within your power to achieve – although you may need or want some outside help!


If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and you quit smoking, you reduce the risk of serious health complications, including:

  • Heart and kidney disease
  • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputation
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness) and
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor co-ordination)


The health benefits of quitting begin right away. People with diabetes who quit smoking have better control of their blood sugar, and studies have shown that insulin can start to become more effective at lowering blood sugar levels eight weeks after a smoker gives up. No matter what type of diabetes you have, quitting smoking will make your diabetes easier to control.


How to quit

Most smokers would like to quit but are either too afraid to try, have tried in the past and not managed it, or have quit for a while and gone back to smoking. Some have avoided trying to quit because of other concerns, such as putting on weight. Whichever of these applies, you will always stand a better chance of quitting for good if you get help from your local NHS Stop Smoking Service – such as Quit4Life.


Diabetes Wellness Day South 2017 (2)

Quit4Life adviser Norma-Jane with Southern Health colleagues at a recent Diabetes Wellness Day

How does help from an NHS Stop Smoking Service make a difference?

  1. A choice of settings

NHS stop smoking services free appointments in different areas, so you’re bound to find a session with a specialist adviser near to you. We provide:

  • One-to-one appointments at local venues, pharmacies and GP surgeries
  • Workplace programmes arranged between the employer and NHS Stop Smoking Service
  • Specialist groups


  1. Advisers

Your dedicated adviser to provide weekly support and encouragement – without lectures or nagging!

These may be dedicated full-time stop smoking specialists or, e.g., healthcare workers or pharmacists who have been trained to provide support. They will go out of their way to build a rapport with you and boost confidence, whilst offering practical advice that can really make a difference.


  1. Preparing for your quit date

Help to prepare for an agreed quit date, identify triggers and plan coping strategies

The importance of this should not be underestimated and the adviser will ensure everything is in place before a quit attempt is made – helping you identify triggers, plan coping strategies, rewards, etc.


  1. Product choice

Information and advice to choose products to help you quit that will suit you best. This could include consideration of e-cigarettes (otherwise known as ‘vaping’).

There is no “best” product but there is no doubt that different products suit different people. Your adviser will go through the options to help you choose the product or products that are most likely to be helpful. If you have tried Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) such as patches, without success, it does not necessarily mean they will not work for you. Evidence has shown that two products used together can be effective when one was not. For example, a patch gives a good constant flow of nicotine, then at particularly challenging times, such as during stress or social events, topping up with a secondary oral product like the mouth spray can prevent that little slip that quickly leads to full scale relapse! Your adviser will also go through other options, such as the stop smoking drugs Champix and Zyban. If you have been using an e-cigarette to cut down, or are thinking of vaping as a tool to help you quit, it is a good idea to talk this through with your adviser before making a final decision.


  1. Cost of products

Licensed nicotine replacement therapy products (NRT) are supplied free or at reduced cost, compared with buying over-the-counter products

How products are supplied does vary from one service to another. Some offer them at the session for a one-off prescription charge, others via prescription request or voucher. Whichever way, it will work out a lot cheaper than buying NRT over the counter – and of course much cheaper in the long run than smoking!


  1. Carbon monoxide readings

Watching your carbon monoxide (CO) levels reduce after quitting

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas that you breathe in when you smoke. Your adviser will monitor and check this each time they see you. CO reduces efficiency in breathing and makes blood more sticky, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and other circulation problems. Your adviser will measure your reading (in parts per million in your breath) using a simple breath monitor while you are still a smoker. The more you have inhaled from smoking in the last few hours the higher it will be. The good news is that it quickly goes down to a non-smoker level within two days of quitting – a terrific motivation to stay smoke free.


  1. Discuss your concerns weekly

Help to address concerns such as putting on weight

Many quitters worry about putting on weight when they quit. This is a very understandable concern, particularly for people with diabetes. Your adviser will work with you to minimise the risk of putting on weight when you quit and to reassure you that the extra energy you gain from quitting will in the long term increases your capacity for enjoyable exercise. Some services have even negotiated special deals for successful quitters, e.g. free sessions at weight loss clubs and at classes.


  1. You’re not judged for repeat quit attempts

A flexible treatment that encourages repeat attempts if necessary

If you have tried to quit in the past and not managed it – or if you have quit for a time and gone back to smoking – you will always be welcomed back for another try when you feel ready. You will have gained valuable experience from previous attempts which will make the next attempt much more likely to succeed. You will be reassured that it is never too late to quit, there will always be a benefit to your health and you can do it with the right help.



Feeling inspired to start your smoke-free future?

Phone: 0845 602 4663 or 01252 335120



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