We all know smoking is bad for us, yet 7.4 million people aged 18 and over in the UK continue to do it. Even though it is one of the biggest causes of illness and even death, quitting can still feel like a difficult and daunting task for some people.
It’s important to keep your incentives clear so you can refer back to them when you crave a cigarette. Staying motivated is imperative if you want to quit smoking for good.
Whether you have or haven’t thought about doing so already, there’s plenty of reasons why you should quit for good; here are a few of them.
Each Cigarette Contributes to Poor Health
It’s estimated that around 78,000 deaths a year are caused by smoking-related illnesses in the UK. Smoking causes, and exacerbates, diseases such as asthma, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and multiple types of cancer, as well as other debilitating, chronic conditions. You will also be more prone to lung-related issues, such as bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and will likely struggle to shift them.
Additionally, smoking can cause a plethora of aesthetic issues which can drastically impact your appearance.
Smoking will cause your skin to age faster by affecting the flow of oxygen to the skin. This causes wrinkles – especially around the mouth due to constantly pursing your lips around cigarettes. The whites of your eyes can yellow, as can your nails and fingers.
Aside from yellowing fingers, a link has been found between smoking and a condition called Dupuytren’s contracture. This condition is caused by tissues becoming thicker and preventing a person from straightening their fingers.
Particles of cigarette smoke can linger in your hair and clothing, emitting a musky and foul smell. As the smoke contains the same elements you are breathing in, you may notice white clothing, furniture and walls will become yellow due to the nicotine. These lingering particles (often referred to as “second hand smoke”) can be inhaled by people around you, such as friends and family members, affecting their health too.
Moreover, nicotine can damage your hair. As alluded to previously, the reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching the cells in the hair can cause your hair to become dull, dry, brittle or even simply fall out.
Oral effects of smoking – that is to say the way smoking affects your mouth and throat – include damage to the voice box (larynx), resulting in a raspy voice. Tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath (halitosis) and stained teeth are some of the ways smoking can affect your oral health. Of course, smoking increases the risk of oral cancers such as oropharyngeal cancer, oesophageal cancer and laryngeal cancer.
By quitting smoking, you can give your body a chance to reverse some damage that has been done, while preventing any more from taking place. You may also find yourself recovering from colds & illnesses more quickly. Read our article, ‘How Does the Body Repair After Smoking’, for more details on how the body heals itself after you quit smoking.
Quitting Will Allow You to Do Things You Can’t Currently
As previously mentioned, smoking massively affects your overall health and well-being, both in the short and long term. You’ll notice some of these negative effects during day-to-day life, and they may even prevent you from doing some normal everyday activities, such as climbing the stairs without getting out of breath or running.
By giving up cigarettes, you’ll have a far better lung capacity as your lungs heal and clear the mucus and toxins out. You’ll feel the benefits of this every time you walk, run or exercise. You may even notice a difference when you sleep or laugh – you will experience less wheezing, and should also be able to fall asleep more quickly.
Quitting smoking means you also won’t have to find time in your day to have a cigarette break. You’ll be able to spend more time with friends and family without interrupting time together to smoke.
It’s Costing You Money
The average smoker spends £128 a month of cigarettes – that’s over £1500 a year. By quitting smoking, you’ll feel like you've had a pay rise and have more money at your disposal.
You can find out how much you can save using the NHS' calculator.
It’s Affecting the Economy
Not only does it affect you individually, but smoking also costs the UK economy over £11 billion a year. Most of these costs are due to the NHS dealing with smoking-related illnesses (£2.5 billion), but it also affects employers (£5.3 billion), social care services (£760 million) and subsequently the wider society.
Smokers who manage to quit are thought to reduce their overall cost to the health system by almost 50%.
You’re Putting Others at Risk
Each time you light up, you are putting people around you at risk. 80% of second hand smoke is odourless and invisible, so no matter how careful you think you are, you are still allowing those around you to breathe in the same toxins as you. Second hand smoke can cause meningitis, bronchitis, pneumonia and even cancer.
As well as this, three quarters of children are worried their parents will die because they smoke. Children are also three times more likely to smoke themselves if their mum or dad smokes. Quitting is not only good for you, but for those close to you too.
If you've decided to quit, there’s lots of help available. See our article ‘What is the Best Way to Quit Smoking’ for more information. You can also visit your local pharmacy or GP who can offer further advice and support.