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Even after years of smoking, it's still worth giving up. Habits can be hard to change, especially ones we enjoy, so it normally takes a few attempts before people give up smoking for good.

How does smoking affect my health?

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England. About 80,000 people die each year because of smoking. Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals that are bad for our bodies. Smoking can:

  • increase your blood pressure and heart rate
  • lead to poor blood circulation
  • age the skin quickly so you get more wrinkles
  • cause bad breath, yellow teeth, taste problems and gum disease.

Smoking has also been linked to many long-term conditions such as:

  • dementia
  • heart disease
  • macular degeneration
  • lung disease
  • osteoporosis
  • some cancers.

Why should I quit smoking now?

Whatever your age, if you stop smoking you can expect a range of benefits, and many of these benefits can be immediate. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body can start to heal from the damage of smoking. Quitting will help you:

  • breathe more easily
  • feel better overall and have more energy
  • reduce your risk of heart disease, lung problems and cancer
  • recover more quickly from an infection or after an operation
  • protect the health of others around you who may be affected by your second-hand smoke
  • save money. On average, most people who quit save around £3,000 per year.
  • live longer.

What help and support is available to help me quit?

It’s important you have the right support around you before you give up. Let your family and friends know you are quitting, or join a support group where you’ll meet others who are going through the same experience.

There’s no one way to quit smoking – or best way. There are a range of options available so if something doesn’t work the first time then it’s worth trying another way. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about what might work for you. Quit smoking treatments and options include:

  • prescribed medications
  • nicotine products such as gum, lozenges or patches
  • local NHS Stop Smoking Service – one-on-one or group support combined with stop smoking medications or nicotine products.

NHS Stop Smoking service

There are free local Stop Smoking services across the UK. They offer free one-to-one support along with stop smoking medicines, which are available for the cost of a prescription.

Giving up smoking can make you feel uncomfortable because your body is adjusting to not having nicotine. In the first few days or weeks you may have cravings, difficulty sleeping or an increased appetite, and feel irritable, stressed or anxious. The discomfort will fade with time, so resist the urge to light up a cigarette.

For more information call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 678 1602.
We’re open 8am to 7pm, every day of the year.

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Last updated: Apr 20 2021

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