Smoking the facts
Many people who smoke do not realise the risk of smoking. About 120,000 people die every year in the United Kingdom because of smoking! About half of people who smoke will die from a disease caused by smoking.
Lung cancer: Smoking causes over 80% of cases of lung cancer. About 30,000 people in the UK will die from lung cancer each year.
Other cancers: Smoking can cause other cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, gullet, pancreas, bladder, cervix, blood (leukaemia) and kidney.
Chronic bronchitis & emphysema: About 25,000 people die each year in the United Kingdom from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. More then 8 out of 10 of these deaths are directly linked to smoking.
Heart disease: About 150,000 people die each year in the UK from coronary heart disease. About one quarter of these deaths are smoking related.
Smoking can also cause circulation problems, chest and throat infections, and impotence in men.
What does cigarette smoke contain?
Cigarette smoke contains several thousand chemicals, at least two of which - carbon monoxide and nicotine- are thought to be involved in causing coronary heart disease.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, which is also present in car exhaust fumes. It is picked up by the blood more readily then oxygen. So, when carbon monoxide is present, there is less "room" for oxygen in the blood. The oxygen carrying capacity of a smoker's blood can be cut by up to 15%. This means that the heart has to work much harder to get enough oxygen all around the body.
Nicotine stimulates the nervous system and this leads to an increase in the rate the heart beats at and causes the blood vessels to narrow. This again puts a strain on the heart. Nicotine also makes the blood "sticky" and more likely to block the blood vessels.
A cigarette smoker has about double the risk of having a heart attack as a non smoker. For the smoker who has high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the risk is eight times greater!!
Is it too late to give up?
NO- whatever your age, it is never too late to give up! Giving up drastically reduces the risk of a heart attack- within 5 years your risk is half that as a smoker and after 10 years it is the same as a non smoker.
There are other advantages too- you reduce your risk of lung cancer and lung diseases such as emphysema. You will be able to breathe more easily, have a better sense of taste and smell and feel fitter.
Your complexion will improve and you'll have a lot more money in your pocket!
What are the side effects of quitting?
Quitting smoking is difficult because the body is addicted to nicotine. When you give up you may become irritable, depressed, or restless and have difficulty concentrating. These feelings will pass though and it is important to persevere, as the benefits will last a lifetime. Many people worry about gaining weight when they quit smoking. This is not inevitable but some quitter's do gain a little weight. Don't replace your cigarettes with lots of sweet or fatty snacks- choose fruit instead. It is not worth smoking to keep your weight down. Eating healthily and exercising can easily lose a few extra pounds!
How do you stop smoking?
There is no magic answer to quitting but the following tips may be helpful.
Convince yourself that you really want to give up smoking and you will succeed.
Choose a time when you are not under too much stress.
Give up with a friend.
Throw away all your cigarettes.
Make a point of telling g people that you have given up.
Work out how much money you are saving and put that money aside each week.
Sit in no-smoking areas when you out in a pub or restaurant.
Above all be positive and you will join the ranks of the 11,000,000 people in the UK who have successfully given up.
Government helpline: 0800 1690169