Smoking is an addiction that affects nine million people in the UK, with 2.9 million using e-cigarettes. Many people at this time of year have already given up on their new year’s resolutions — are you one of them?
Attitudes towards cigarettes have changed over time, people now know the detrimental effects on the body and this is prompting people to want to quit. Whilst e-cigarettes are growing in popularity people are still not fully aware of the health effects of these and only 50% of people believe they are an effective way to quit smoking.
More than four in ten smokers have the intention of quitting at some point in the future. Here’s our top 10 reasons why you should make it your priority for this year’s National No Smoking Day on 14 March:
- Your immune system will improve. We often hear about the long-term and more high-profile health risks of smoking, but are you aware of the smaller issues? Something as simple getting a cold or the flu? Smoking makes you more susceptible to seasonal problems as cigarette smoke effects the body’s mechanism for fighting infection.
- Cut your health risks. Just 20 minutes after quitting your body starts recovering and returning to normal. Once you have been smoke-free for 10 years, you will have halved your risk of lung cancer and reduced the chances of kidney or pancreatic cancer too.
- Your mental health will stabilise. Whether you realise it or not, by smoking you are affecting your mental health. Whether you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia or not, the constant supply of nicotine from cigarettes harms the brain and can cause these diseases to progress faster than in those who do not smoke. Many smokers also experience increased symptoms of depression and ADHD, therefore getting the right help to stop is important.
- Cut your stress levels. Many people are quick to confuse nicotine withdrawal with everyday stressors. The symptoms feel exactly the same, particularly to that of anxiety. In fact, scientists show that people’s stress levels are lower after they have quit smoking despite the fact that many people think that it helps them to cope.
- You’re saving your family’s lives. Passive smoking, or second hand smoking, is dangerous. It not only gives you respiratory problems, but also aggravates asthma in children. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 deaths a year from passive smoking.
- You’ll smell much more pleasant. Many smokers are self-conscious of the impact of smoking on their hygiene, and cigarette smoke is commonly thought to be an unpleasant smell by non-smokers. It’s not just your breath, it’s your hair, your clothes and even your home!
- You’ll look younger! Smoking reduces the amount of collagen your body produces and it is collagen that keeps your skin firm and looking youthful. If you’re a smoker, you are speeding up the aging process and are much more likely to get leathery skin and deep wrinkles. Nicotine reduces the blood flow to your skin and this prevents oxygen and other nutrients like vitamin A from getting to the outer layers.
- You’ll save up to £3,000 per year! Think of the holiday that’ll buy you! It’s surprising how expensive smoking actually is, on average people who quit end up saving around £250 per month.
- Your appearance will change. Many long-term smokers find they get stained skin from holding a cigarette. Tobacco smoke contains toxins that stains skin, particularly the hands and even your teeth.
- Your fitness levels will improve. Ever wanted to do a local 5k charity race? Or a triathlon? Once you quit smoking you’ll see improvements in your ability to exercise, maybe you can compete in the races you’ve always wanted to do. Many smokers suffer just climbing stairs thanks to blockages in the lungs and heart, but inside just 9 months of stopping smoking you will already find it easier to breathe during exercise.
To get some one-to-one assistance and help on your quitting journey please visit your local NHS stop smoking service — you are 4 times more likely to quit with their support.
You can also minimise the effects of smoking on your body with a Health Cash Plan. Although Health Shield do not offer direct money back for smoking cessation aids — regular dental check-ups and hygienist visits may reduce the discolouration on your teeth and 24/7 helplines will assist with depression and anxiety issues. You may also find via PERKS that you can get a discounted gym membership to assist your respiratory system, and the health and wellbeing benefit is an added treat to reward yourself with nice treatments such as massages.
Mintel, Toxicity setback for ‘heat-not-burn’ tobacco is a win for E-cigarettes; Dec 2017
Mintel, Smoking Cessation and E-cigarettes; Jan 2017