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CORONAVIRUS cases are rapidly surging in the UK - with the toll jumping to a staggering 456 people today.

And experts are warning that smokers are much more likely to contract the deadly bug - given their weak lung function.

Britain's top doc, Professor Chris Whitty, urged smokers to ditch the habit immediately to lower their risk of Covid-19.

He told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee: "To be clear on smokers, my recommendation is that they stop smoking.

Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, from the Australian National University (ANU), also revealed that smokers may suffer worse outcomes from coronavirus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also today revealed he's hiking the tobacco tax in today's Budget - with the cost of cigarettes to go up to £12.73 a pack.

With this in mind, here are just a few ways to help you quit smoking for good and protect yourself from the respiratory disease...

As a smoker, you probably have plenty of reasons to quit, but have you ever written them down physically?

Why don't you get a pen and paper and list out every single reason you can think of - from the most obvious to the little things.

That way when you're feeling low you can heck it and it will help you put your priorities back in order.

"If you are quitting by yourself, I recommend that just before you stop smoking completely on your quit date you try smoking another brand for at least a few days as they just won’t seem as enjoyable."

You could try getting up and doing the dishes straight away or settling down in a room where you don't smoke.

LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Anshu Kaura said: "If finishing a meal means having a cigarette, try changing your routine.

"You could read a chapter of your favourite book, catch up on your favourite show or retreat to another area of the house which you don’t associate with smoking.”

The same researchers who carried out the study mentioned above also found that certain drinks make ciggies taste better.

Mrs Kaura added: "If you tend to smoke more when drinking alcohol, try cutting down on your consumption or try and switch to lower alcohol or even non-alcoholic drinks."

Juliet Hodges, a behaviour change adviser for Bupa, explained: "Our friends and family are vital to our success with this kind of thing.

"They can either be your biggest supporters, or biggest liability if they’re determined to get you to drink.

"Making sure your friends are on side is really important, and better yet see if some can take on the challenge with you."

But using nicotine replacement therapies like patches and lozenges increases your chance of quitting by 1.5 times, according to the BBC.

And using an NHS stop-smoking clinic leads to a four-fold rise in your chances of ditching fags for good.

"These may include patches, chewing gum and mouth sprays. NRT products work by slowly releasing nicotine at low rate into the bloodstream to prevent withdrawal and reduce cravings.

“It has been shown that you are twice as likely to quit smoking using stop smoking medication than going it alone.

"If you’re unsure which NRT is best for you, visit your local LloydsPharmacy and speak to a member of our team for advice.”

Mrs Kaura said: “As well as finding the right NRT that works for you, it is a good idea to be as active as possible whilst on your journey to quitting smoking.

"Exercise can work as a distraction method, as well as releasing endorphins that will boost your mood.

"Studies have also proven that even a five-minute walk or stretch can help cut cravings as it produces anti-craving chemicals in the brain."

"If you’re used to drinking a lot of alcohol and your social life is geared towards it, this challenge will be really difficult," Juliet Hodges says.

"It’s important to remember that you’re only human, and to treat yourself with kindness even when you’re struggling.

"Don’t be afraid to let yourself have other treats instead of alcohol, like an extra helping of dessert, or reward yourself with other activities you enjoy so you don’t feel too deprived."

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