Smoking: The Effects and Help Available

Try to quit!
Try to quit!

The graphic new anti-smoking ads that last year became regular features on our TV screens marked another of the government’s attempts to awaken us to the seriousness of the effects that smoking has on the body. While they don’t make for comfortable viewing, they may well have spurred some of us to seek advice about quitting. This article aims to outline the benefits of stopping smoking, along with what can help and what you can expect as you become smoke-free. We hope this post helps you on your way to a fresh new you!

A brief overview of the benefits of quitting
Some of the benefits affect your appearance; they include whiter teeth and younger looking skin. Other benefits affect your health and include a longer life, less stress, more energy, less risk of smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis, and easier breathing. When you quit, the people you love will benefit too: NHS Choices states that passive smoking increases a non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, and that second-hand smoke makes children twice as at risk of chest illnesses such as pneumonia and croup as well as more ear infections and asthma. The resource also says that children who live with smokers have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children living with non-smokers.

The help available

Self help

Help Guide advises you to make your own personal game plan. This involves listing the reasons why you want to quit and put it anywhere you’d normally keep your cigarettes so you’ll see it when you look for them. They suggest the type of reasons you may give, which include “I will lower my risk for cancer, heart attacks, strokes, early death, cataracts, and skin wrinkling” and “I will have more money to spend”.

Help Guide goes on to advise that you ask yourself questions to identify your smoking habit. This will help you decide which quitting techniques will work for you. Questions include: “Is it a very bad addiction (more than a pack a day)? Or would a simple nicotine patch do the job?” and “are you more of a social smoker?”

Over-the-counter and group help

Nicotine replacement therapy and non-nicotine medication can reduce withdrawal symptoms and help you to quit – take a look at the quit smoking products available from LloydsPharmacy for example.

There are stop smoking support groups out there, use the internet to find one in your area. If you want to speak to someone without going to a meeting, you could call the NHS Smokefree helpline.

GP help

It’s important to talk to your doctor about getting help to quit, as he or she will be able to work with you to find the method that works best. You’ll also be able to get advice on support groups in your area, to increase your chances of giving up.

Other methods
You could try hypnosis, acupuncture or counselling that uses cognitive behavioural techniques to change the way you think about smoking.

What to expect:

NHS Choices has a ‘quitting timeline’ to indicate the increasing benefits of being smoke-free.
After 20 minutes – blood pressure and pulse will have returned to normal.
After 24 hours – your lungs will have started to clear.
After two days – your body will be nicotine-free. Your sense of taste and smell will have improved.
After three days – you will be able to breathe more easily. You will have more energy.
After two to 12 weeks – your circulation will be improved.
After three to nine months – your breathing will be improved, so will any coughs or wheezing.
After one year – the risk of you having a heart attack is half that of a smoker.
After ten years – the risk of you getting lung cancer is half that of a smoker.

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