It has long been recognised that smoking poses serious risks to health – both to the smoker and to others exposed to the smoke for prolonged periods. These risks include:
- cancer (lung, mouth, lip, throat, larynx, oesophagus, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas)
- heart disease
- heart attack
- vascular disease (including to the brain)
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis and emphysema
Smoking can also worsen or prolong the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma or infections such as the common cold.
It can also cause impotence in men and reduce the fertility of both men and women.
Pregnant women who smoke run the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, a low birth weight baby or stillbirth.
The good news is that your health starts to improve from the moment you give up smoking.
Some of the main ways that ex-smokers can benefit are:
- breathing more easily and coughing less - lung capacity improves by up to 10 per cent within nine months.
- having more energy - within two to 12 weeks of stopping smoking your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.
- feeling less stressed - scientific studies show people's stress levels are lower after they stop smoking.
- improving your sex life - stopping smoking improves the body's blood flow so improves sensitivity.
- improving your fertility - non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men's sperm more potent.
- improving your sense of smell and taste - you may notice that food tastes and smells different as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
- having younger-looking skin - stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles. The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and stopping smoking can reverse the sallow, lined complexion smokers often have.
- having whiter teeth and sweeter breath - giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you'll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are also less likely than smokers
to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely.
- living longer- half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Men who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life.
- smoke-free homes protects your loved ones - breathing in second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. In children it doubles the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, wheezing and asthma. They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers.
Quit4Life provides free, flexible support over a 12 week programme to help smokers (across Hampshire except Portsmouth and Southampton) quit smoking sooner and stay smoke-free. This is shown to make a big difference to your chances of successfully quitting for good.
Advisers offer weekly support either face to face or by phone or email with text message support for up to 12 weeks. They can offer a combination of face to face and telephone support and provide more or less contact as you require to quit smoking. The helpline, website, Quit Kits, Facebook and Twitter are also available with information and motivational tips.
Your adviser will ask about your medical history, your smoking and your lifestyle to help you build a personal quit plan that increases your chances of quitting – at least 4 times more than just quitting on your own.
Advisers provide the medication that can help you quit such as nicotine patches, gum, mouth spray or Champix tablets plus advice on electronic cigarettes. The cost of the medication is either free (if eligible for free prescriptions) or at a lower cost than you can buy, plus you get advice and support to choose the best product for you and use it well.
They also provide advice and support to help you understand what triggers your smoking and how to manage any cravings that can occur. Advisers will also contact your GP or other health care provider with your consent to ensure they can support any changes in other medication that may be needed when you stop smoking (often medication can be reduced).
See website for more information and to hear from smokers who quit with Quit4Life or call us.