Smoking: explaining the risks


Everybody's reasons for smoking are entirely personal to them. Some like to smoke in social situations, some when stressed or tired and others simply through force of habit or just because they want to. Whatever your reason for smoking, you enjoy it for the obvious pleasure it provides you.

However, you are probably also aware your health is being damaged by your smoking habit and that it is affecting the people around you - and that's before you even think about how much money it is costing you. This isn't telling you something you don't already know but it is important to realize that if you are considering giving up smoking there is plenty of help and guidance available to you to help you quit effectively and quickly whenever you are ready.

It goes without saying that your health will improve in many ways if you can give up the habit , but there are also several methods to go about quitting. Many people find a combination of expert support and medications that reduce your cravings (either nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or drugs such as Zyban and Champix) to be the most effective method.

However, others have quit with the help of different approaches including hypnotherapy, accupuncture, smoking cessation groups or simply quitting - and these can all be very effective.

A good first step would be visiting the NHS SmokeFree website www.smokefree.nhs.uk - or if you'd like to speak to someone you can call the NHS SmokeFree Helpline on 0800 022 432 free of charge, where a smoking cessation expert will be able to help you.

Numerous treatments are available on prescription that can double your chances of quitting, but using a combination of the NHS support and a stop smoking medicine make you four times more likely to stop.

The health risks of smoking

Premature death

Most smokers die from smoking-related illnesses, which include:

Smoking can also increase you risk of developing - or worsen - numerous other conditions including:

  • Angina - chest pains caused by a lack of oxygen to your heart
  • Peripheral vascular disease - damage to your blood vessels
  • Macular degeneration - a breakdown of the retina causing gradual blindness
  • Impotence
  • Infertility in both men and women
  • Wrinkling of the skin
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma.

Seven benefits of going smoke free

  • Reduce your risk of developing illnesses, disability or death caused by cancer, heart disease, lung disease and stroke.
  • Think of the money you'll save and what you can spend it on instead - a pack of 20 a day equates to around £200 per month.
  • Your breathing and general fitness will both improve
  • You will enjoy your food more as your sense of taste improve
  • The appearance of your skin and teeth will improve
  • Your clothes and body will no longer smell of tobacco
  • Your friends and family will no longer be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke.

References:

1. Department of Health / SmokeFree (2013): http://smokefree.nhs.uk/ways-to-quit/local-nhs-stop-smoking-service/