If you’ve made the brilliant decision to stop smoking in 2019 then it’s crucially important that you don’t cave and give in to temptation. Traditionally, January 12th is the day when we’re most likely to break our New Year Resolutions. However, research has shown that when giving up smoking, if you reach the 28-day mark you’re five times more likely to quit for life. So, to keep you on track, we’ve compiled a list of 12 great reasons to stay smoke-free.
If you’re a 20-a-day smoker, you’ll be spending around £56 a week on cigarettes. By quitting you’ll save £243 a month and £2920 a year – a massive boost to your finances and enough to pay off debts and even treat yourself to a family holiday abroad every year. Even if you smoke just 10 cigarettes a day, you’ll be spending £120 a month and £1,460 a year to feed your habit.
The lungs are badly affected by smoking resulting in coughs, colds, wheezing, asthma and fatal conditions such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) –a collection of debilitating lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms of COPD are often dismissed as a smoker’s cough – however they progress to greatly impact on a sufferer’s quality of life. Stopping smoking is the only effective way to slow down the progress of the disease.
The damage that smoking causes to your heart increases the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Nicotine and the carbon monoxide from smoke put a strain on the heart and force it to work faster, increasing the risk of blood clots. Meanwhile other chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the lining of the coronary arteries. Smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack and gives you twice the risk of dying from coronary heart disease compared to non-smokers. However, if you stop smoking, that risk is reduced by half within just one year.
When you smoke it’s not just your health that is affected. Second hand smoke can have a devastating impact on the health of those around you, particularly people you live with. Children face the greatest risk of health problems with exposure to somebody else’s smoke doubling their risk of developing invasive meningococcal disease and increasing their risk of infections such as flu, bronchitis and pneumonia by 50%. In adult non-smokers, second hand smoke raises the risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30% and coronary heart disease by 25 to 35%.
Pets can develop serious health problems if they are owned by a smoker. Not only do they inhale cigarette smoke, but they lick the smoke particles that cling to their fur. As they have small lungs this can lead to breathing problems and cancer in cats, dogs, rabbits, bird and even fish.
Across the UK, someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette every three days. In Wales alone, 163 fires were caused by smoking materials in 2014/15. Second hand smoke lingers in the home for up to five hours even after a cigarette has been stubbed out, affecting the health of those around you. Meanwhile tobacco residue -or third hand smoke – builds up and stains surfaces and can be ingested by children that touch contaminated surfaces.
In the UK it is thought that around 10% of cases of Alzheimer’s Disease are linked to smoking and according to the World Health Organisation around 14% of Alzheimer’s Disease globally are attributable to smoking and exposure to second hand smoke. This is because smoking increases the risk of heart disease and blood circulation problems which in turn can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia. By stopping smoking however, you reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease to normal levels over time.
Smoking causes staining to the teeth due to the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. Smokers’ teeth quickly become yellow and the teeth of heavy smokers are almost brown in colour. Smoking also leads to gum disease as smokers are more likely to produce bacterial plaque. It causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream which makes it harder for infected gums to heal and gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss. In more serious cases smoking can lead to an increased risk of cancer in the lips, tongue, throat, voice box and oesophagus. More than 93% of cancers in the throat are caused by smoking. However, the good news is that when you stop smoking your risk of developing cancer of the head and neck is greatly reduced and the same as a non-smoker 20 years after quitting.
Smoking reduces the flow of oxygen to your skin meaning it ages more quickly and looks grey and dull. You are three times more likely to get facial wrinkles if you smoke and it ages your skin by between 20 and 30 years. Smokers often have a sallow yellow-grey complexion and hollowed out cheeks. If you stop smoking, you will prevent any further deterioration to your skin
Smoking causes bones to become weak and brittle, particularly in women who are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than non -smokers. By stopping smoking you will lower your risk of developing this debilitating condition.
Smoking raises your risk of having a stroke by at least 50% and doubles your risk of dying from a stroke. This is because it increases your chance of developing a brain aneurysm – a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall. This can rupture or burst leading to a subarachnoid haemorrhage – a type of stroke that can cause brain damage or death.
On the bright side however, if you quit, your risk of a stroke will be reduced to that of a non-smoker’s within five years.
Stomach cancer and ulcers are both a higher risk for smokers. Smoking also weakens the muscle that controls the lower end of your oesophagus and this can lead to acid from the stomach travelling in the wrong direction back up your gullet – otherwise known as reflux. Smoking can also raise your risk of developing kidney cancer – research has shown that if you regularly smoke 10 cigarettes a day, you are one and a half times more likely to develop kidney cancer. The risk increases to twice as likely if you smoke 20 cigarettes or more.