Professor Sanjay Agrawal, National Speciality Adviser for Tobacco Dependency at NHS England, discusses why smokers should consider quitting, not just for the positive benefits on their own health but for those around them too.
Every Stoptober smokers are encouraged to stop smoking for 28 days. Statistics show that if you can abstain from smoking for a month, you are five times more likely to permanently quit.
As the month draws to a close and we start to approach the winter season, I wanted to discuss some of the reasons why it is always the right time to quit.
In England, around 64,000 people die from smoking related illnesses each year. Smoking also increase the risk of developing over 50 serious health conditions including cancer, heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.
We also know that smoking is having a disproportionate impact on population groups with lower incomes. Life expectancy for smokers is around ten years less than it is for non-smokers, making it the leading modifiable cause of health inequalities. If you already suffer from respiratory infections, or you’re at high risk of getting one, stopping smoking is something you can do to help avoid them – and stay out of hospital this winter.
As a consultant is respiratory care, I see the damaging health, social and economic impact that smoking is having on lives on a daily basis.
Making a quit attempt can bring immediate health benefits, even for those with an existing smoking-related disease. It only takes two days for the body to flush out carbon monoxide and lungs to clear. After three to nine months, lung function increases by up to 10%. After a year, your risk of a heart attack has completely halved compared to a smoker.
Not only will you live a healthier life after stopping smoking, but you can also save yourself hundreds or thousands of pounds. That is why, if you feel like you missed the boat on Stoptober, it is important to remember that it is always the right time to quit. Just hear the experiences of Research Nurse, Paul, and Security Supervisor, Andrew, who have shared the benefits they’ve felt since quitting.
It can also take a number of attempts to quit successfully, so if you don’t succeed this time, don’t let it put you off trying again until you achieve that quit.
The NHS is committed to achieving a smoke free society by 2030 (where smoking prevalence is less than 5%), in line with government ambitions. As part of this commitment, the NHS is currently rolling out tobacco dependence treatment services in inpatient and maternity services: supporting our patients to improve their health and save money this winter.
Find out more about services available to support smokers to quit on the nhs.uk website.