Are you wanting to give up cigarettes for good? Reporter Liz Connor asks health and addiction experts for their best advice and self-help solutions.

We’re well into the new year, which means a significant proportion of the population will be battling to uphold their resolution to quit smoking.

According to the Office For National Statistics, over 70 per cent of people who currently smoke say they want to quit. But anyone who has tried to kick the habit will know - ditching cigarettes for good can be much easier said than done.

Smoking increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and many types of cancer, and is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK (the NHS estimates that one in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease).

Despite there being compelling health reasons to quit overnight, smoking is addictive and for the majority of people, going ‘cold turkey’ doesn’t work.

In fact, only a small proportion of people succeed with the ‘cold turkey’ method - so don’t beat yourself up if you’re one of the many who attempted to do so but found it too hard. But there are lots of other measures you can try - getting support from your healthcare provider, which may include nicotine replacement patches and gum alongside counselling, can vastly improve your chances for a successful quit.

Here, addiction and cravings experts share some top tips to help you quit...

1. Make plans to quit - The first thing you need to do is set a date and stick to it.

2. Have a relapse prevention plan - Over time, Steve Clarke, a specialist in the psychology of addictive behaviours says cravings drastically recede, but you should initially make a ‘relapse prevention plan’ just in case. “Identify potentially difficult events - like a party, for instance - and plan your escape routes in advance.” If you know you’ll be tempted to light up after a drink or two in the pub, Clarke believes it’s worth temporarily skipping such social occasions until you have your cravings under control.

3. Switch up your routine - Smoking can easily become an automatic behaviour linked to daily routines, such as that afternoon work break. Clarke suggests changing your schedule so that lighting up no longer becomes a ritual. “If that after-meal cigarette was a ritual, it needs breaking,” says Clarke. “Get up and do the dishes straight away, or settle down in a room where you don’t smoke and start reading a book to occupy your mind elsewhere.”

4. Enrol some support - Telling friends and family members that you’re serious about giving up can help to keep you accountable. “If someone you know wants to give up too, suggest that you give up together,” suggests Clarke.

Ask close pals to engage in non-smoking activities while you’re kicking the habit - such as exercise or the cinema.

5. Identify when your cravings hit - If you’ve ever tried to give up smoking, you’ll notice that some parts of the day can feel harder than others. Cravings happen because your body misses its regular hits of nicotine and they can be triggered by a cue, such as having a few drinks, or feeling very happy, sad or stressed.

6. Get physical - “Studies have found that even a small amount of exercise, such as a five-minute walk or a stretch, can cut cravings,” says Clarke. He suggests joining a local group, such as yoga, mindfulness or walking, that has an enjoyable social element to it, so it feels like less of a chore.

7. Make non-smoking friends - A pretty common ‘mistake’ while attempting to give up smoking is surrounding yourself with temptation.

8. Keep your hands and mouth busy - If you like holding a cigarette, Clarke says you should keep a pen or another cigarette-shaped object handy for times when you’re tempted.

9. Think of the wider benefits - Quitting isn’t just good for you - it’s good for your loved ones, too. Also, think of how much you would save if you put aside the money you would normally spend on cigarettes.

10. Think positive - You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don’t let that put you off. “If you have tried unsuccessfully beforehand, look at where you may have not succeeded, and make the changes.” says Clarke. “Remind yourself how good it would feel to have health and financial benefits.”