Smoking and Health
Smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in the UK, with approximately 100,000 people being killed in the UK through health issues caused by smoking. The effects of smoking do not only affect our own health, but can also affect those around us.
- The global annual death toll as a result of the use of tobacco products is estimated to be around 6 million. This includes those who have been exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Approximately half of all smokers will die prematurely as a result of their smoking
- Around 10 million adults smoke in the UK, which is approximately one sixth of the population
Smoking is both a Physical and Psychological Habit
As well as the addictive ‘high’ provided by the nicotine in cigarettes, smoking can also become a ritual or an automatic response at certain times of the day. As having a cigarette incorporates itself into your daily routine, quitting smoking requires you to address both the physical addiction and the habits and rituals that surround your smoking.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
There are many benefits to quitting smoking, and these benefits begin to take shape very quickly:
20 minutes after quitting smoking: Pulse returns to normal.
8 hours after quitting smoking: Nicotine is reduced by 90% and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by 75%. Circulation improves.
24 hours after quitting smoking: Carbon monoxide and nicotine are almost eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out smoking debris.
48 hours after quitting smoking: All traces of nicotine are removed from the body. The ability to taste and smell improves.
72 hours after quitting smoking: Breathing is easier. Bronchial tubes begin to relax and energy levels increase.
2-12 weeks after quitting smoking: Circulation improves.
1 month after quitting smoking: Physical appearance improves – skin loses its grey pallor and becomes less wrinkled.
3-9 months after quitting smoking: Coughing and wheezing is reduced.
1 year after quitting smoking: Excess risk of a heart attack reduces by half.
10 years after quitting smoking: Risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a continuing smoker.
15 years after quitting smoking: Risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.
Help to Quit Smoking
There are a number of ways which can help smokers to quit their habit:
- Smoking Cessation: Experts can use tried and tested techniques with you to make quitting much easier.
- Make a plan: Be positive about achieving your goal of quitting, and have a “quitting date” in mind.
- Understand when your cravings are at their highest: by knowing when you crave a cigarette, you can begin to take action.
- Identify your reasons for quitting: whether it’s to save money, get healthier or to show a good example to your children, remembering what you are quitting for will encourage you to keep going.
- Exercise and eat healthily: studies have suggested that exercise can help to curb cravings. A healthy lifestyle in other areas will encourage you to keep trying to quit smoking.
- Nicotine replacement therapy: patches, electric cigarettes, chewing gum and nasal sprays can all be useful tools to help you to quit smoking.
- Seek out support: get your family and friends involved in your quest to quit smoking. Their support will be invaluable and can really help you to achieve your goal.
It is never too late to quit
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been smoking, or how old you are. There is always a benefit to quitting and you are worth it!
Written by Jennifer McElroy, The Green Rooms Psychology Assistant