Smoking puts you at and those you live with at risk of many serious health conditions that can shorten your life and worsen your health. Roughly 70% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking.1
Some other conditions that can be caused by smoking include:
- Various types of cancer
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attacks
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
But it’s never too late. By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk of a serious health condition.
After a few days and weeks of not smoking:
- Your pulse rate starts to return to normal
- Your blood is free from the harmful chemical carbon monoxide
- You can breathe more easily
- Your circulation (which helps blood move around your body) improves.2
In the longer term:
- After a year of not smoking, your risk of heart attacks drops by 50% compared to a smoker
- When you’ve been ten years smoke-free, your risk of lung cancer is 50% that of a smoker
- After fifteen years of not smoking, your risk of heart attacks will be the same as someone who has never smoked.3
Smoking is an expensive habit. But you may not realise just how much money you can save by quitting.
Smoking 10 cigarettes a day costs an average of £44.10 a week.4 The average smoker can save £2000 a year by quitting.3 You can calculate how much you can save by quitting here.
Some people smoke to manage emotions like stress or anxiety. But it’s important to understand that smoking may actually be the cause of irritability or anxious feelings.
Nicotine withdrawal, or the symptoms you might experience when you stop smoking, can contribute to these feelings and make you want to have a cigarette.
However, quitting smoking can have big long-term benefits for your mental health. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, and improve your quality of life.6 If you are a smoker and you already struggle with anxiety or depression, stopping smoking can be as effective as anti-depressants.5
This may be because quitting reduces your anxiety or depression, or it improves your health and self-esteem. If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, you should always talk to your GP. If you need urgent support, call 999 or go to A&E.
Stopping smoking protects your friends, loved ones and pets from the impact of second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke contains the same toxic chemicals as inhaling cigarette smoke directly.7 Long-term exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to the same health complications as smoking.8
Teenagers whose parents smoke are four times as likely to become smokers themselves.3
Children who grow up in a household with a parent who smokes are also more likely to develop:
- Coughs and colds
- Chest infections
- Ear infections
Quitting smoking will improve your own life in a lot of ways, but it’s important to remember that it helps others too.
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1. What are the health risks of smoking? nhs.uk. Published June 26, 2018. Accessed July 25, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-are-the-health-risks-of-smoking/
2. Quit smoking - Better Health. nhs.uk. Published November 3, 2020. Accessed July 25, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/
3. Benefits of quitting smoking. nhs.uk. Published February 15, 2023. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/benefits-of-quitting-smoking/
4. UK cigarette prices 2000-2022. Statista. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/414973/cigarette-prices-in-the-united-kingdom/
5. Stopping smoking for your mental health. nhs.uk. Published March 29, 2022. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/stopping-smoking-mental-health-benefits/
6. Smoking cessation for improving mental health - PubMed. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33687070/
7. Passive smoking. nhs.uk. Published November 24, 2021. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/passive-smoking-protect-your-family-and-friends/
8. Dangers of second-hand smoke | NHS inform. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/stopping-smoking/reasons-to-stop/dangers-of-second-hand-smoke/
Published: October 2023
Next review: October 2026
Reviewed by: Connie Whewall