Thinking of quitting? Here’s what it does to your body

If you’re a smoker, chances are you may be trying to quit right now, as giving up smoking is often a popular New Year’s resolution. And one thing you could do to keep your motivation strong is to think about how smoking affects your health.

According to the latest research from the Oral Health Foundation, two in three quitters are giving up for health reasons rather than for the amount of money they’ll save.

“Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult so the motivation for doing so must be strong,” says Dr Nigel Carter, the charity’s chief executive. “Wanting to improve our own health is a positive and aspirational choice. Little wonder it is the driving force behind many of those who plan to stop smoking.”

According to the charity’s survey of 500 smokers, 66 per cent said they were giving up in a bid to improve their overall health, while just 28 per cent said they were doing it to save money. So if you’re planning to give up soon – or even if you’ve already started your quit attempt – here’s a quick guide to some of the ways smoking affects your body.

Every cigarette you smoke is harmful, says the NHS Smokefree campaign. with one in two smokers estimated to die from a smoking-related disease. Some of the main ways smoking can damage your health include the following:

Your heart – Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation. It increases your risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease. Chemicals in tobacco also increase your risk of blood clots.

Your circulatory system – Toxins from tobacco get into your blood when you smoke, making it thicker, narrowing your arteries and increasing your blood pressure. All of these things can increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Your brain – Smoking increases your risk of having a stroke by at least 50 per cent, says NHS Smokefree, as well as doubling your risk of dying from a stroke.

Your lungs – Coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma can be made worse by smoking, which can also lead to fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

Your mouth and throat – Bad breath, yellow teeth, gum disease and a damaged sense of taste may all be caused by smoking. More seriously it can also cause damage in your mouth and throat that can lead to several types of cancer.

Your skin – Smoking can make your skin age more quickly than it should – according to NHS Smokefree, smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years.

Your bones – If you’re a smoker, you’re more likely to develop osteoporosis – where your bones become weak and brittle – than a non-smoker.

Your fertility – If you’re a man smoking can cause impotence, damage sperm and cause testicular cancer. Female smokers, on the other hand, may experience reduced fertility and have an increased risk of cervical cancer.

The good news, however, is that giving up smoking can reduce your risk of many of the above, and after a certain amount of time your risk may be the same as that of someone who has never smoked. Find out how fast quitting can improve your health by reading How giving up smoking can benefit your health.

Your local Careway pharmacist can also offer lots of support if you need it, including help with staying motivated and products designed to help you manage your nicotine withdrawal symptoms, called nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. Just visit your local pharmacy today and ask to speak to the pharmacist.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.