How giving up smoking can benefit your health

Most people are aware that smoking isn’t good for them. But for some, quitting isn’t easy. According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) more than a third of all smokers make at least one attempt to quit in any given year, but fewer succeed in the long term.

One way to motivate yourself to stick at quitting is to think about the ways it can benefit your health. Smoking affects almost every major organ of the body – plus it can harm the people you smoke around too. Indeed giving up can make a huge improvement to your health and lifestyle – including in some ways you may not have realised.

Fast results

When you quit, some of the health benefits are almost immediate.

Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette your pulse should return to normal, and after eight hours the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood should be more than halved and your oxygen levels should return to normal too.

Forty-eight hours later carbon monoxide should be eliminated from your body and your lungs should start to clear out mucous and other smoking debris. At this stage there shouldn’t be any nicotine in your body, and your ability to taste and smell may be better.

Seventy-two hours after quitting your breathing should become easier as your bronchial tubes begin to relax. You should also have more energy.

Longer-term benefits

It should take two to 12 weeks for your circulation to improve after stopping smoking. Meanwhile three to nine months later you should be breathing more easily with less coughing and wheezing, as your lung function may have increased by up to 10 per cent.

A year later your risk of heart disease should be about half the risk of someone who’s still smoking, and after 10 years your risk of lung cancer should drop to half that of a smoker. Then 15 years after quitting you should have the same risk of a heart attack as someone who’s never smoked.

But that’s not all. There are other benefits of quitting too, including the following:

  • You may be fitter because improved circulation can make taking part in physical activity easier
  • Your skin and teeth may look better (giving up may delay the appearance of wrinkles plus your teeth may be less stained)
  • You should enjoy your food more as your senses of smell and taste improve
  • Your fertility level may improve
  • You’ll have a substantial amount of extra money in your pocket – find out how much you’d save by using the Smokefree cost calculator.

Tips to stay smoke free

Your local Careway pharmacist can help if you need support while giving up smoking and can offer you advice about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products that may help with nicotine cravings. Here are some other tips they may give you too:

  • Change your social routine for a while to avoid situations that make you more vulnerable to giving in – situations, for instance, that include excess alcohol.
  • Give your hands something else to do other than hold a cigarette – for instance, try a new hobby to distract you.
  • Whenever you feel the urge to put something in your mouth, chew on a carrot rather than a chocolate or a biscuit.
  • Take regular exercise – this will help keep your weight down, boost your mood and improve your chances of having a good night’s sleep (all of which will help you resist your urges).

There’s also lots more information to help make your stop smoking attempt a successful one at www.nhs.uk/smokefree. Meanwhile you can find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.