No Smoking Day 2017 – 8th March
National No Smoking Day is an annual campaign that is re-designed every year. The campaign began on Ash Wednesday, 1983 when it was called ‘Quit for the Day’. The aim of this day is to provide support for smokers and send them the message of help they can receive and health benefits they can achieve.
The best possible outcome of stopping smoking – saving your life! Other great advantages include saving a TON of money, not exposing the people closest to you to the deadly smoke, and an all round better quality of life. Taking part in the National No Smoking Day 2017 will show you the countless benefits of quitting and may even be the start of a smoke-free life!
Benefits of Quitting!
Stopping smoking lets you breathe more easily
People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months. In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age. In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age and wheezing when you go for a walk or climb the stairs.
Stop smoking gives you more energy
Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking, your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier. You will also give a boost to your immune system, making it easier to fight off colds and flu. The increase in oxygen in the body can also reduce tiredness and the likelihood of headaches.
Ditch the cigarettes and feel less stressed
The withdrawal from nicotine between cigarettes can heighten feelings of stress. As the stress of withdrawal feels the same as other stresses, it’s easy to confuse normal stress with nicotine withdrawal. So, it can seem like smoking is reducing other stresses whereas this is not the case. In fact, scientific studies show people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking. If you’re finding that you are prone to stress, then replacing smoking with a healthier, better way of dealing with stress can give you some real benefits. Read my article on reducing stress and anxiety for more info.
Quitting leads to better sex
Stopping smoking improves the body’s blood flow so improves sensitivity. Men who stop smoking may get better erections. Women may find their orgasms improve and they become aroused more easily. It’s also been found that non-smokers are three times more appealing to prospective partners than smokers.
Stopping smoking improves fertility
Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men’s sperm more potent. Becoming a non-smoker increases the possibility of conceiving through IVF, and reduces the likelihood of having a miscarriage. Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Stopping smoking improves smell and taste
When you stop smoking, your senses of smell and taste get a boost. You may notice that food tastes and smells different as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
Stop smoking for younger-looking skin
Stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles. The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and stopping smoking can reverse the sallow, lined complexion smokers often have.
Ex-smokers have whiter teeth and sweeter breath
Giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you’ll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are also less likely than smokers to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely. Find out more about dental health and teeth whitening. Read about how stopping smoking helps banish bad breath.
Quit smoking to live longer
Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Men who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life. In other words, it’s never too late to benefit from stopping. Being smoke-free not only adds years to your life but also greatly improves your chances of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.
A smoke-free home protects your loved ones
By stopping smoking, you’ll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family, too. Breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. In children, it doubles the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, wheezing and asthma. They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers. Read more about the dangers of passive smoking.
How to Stop for good!
You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don’t let that put you off. Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you’re really going to do it this time. Also, at the end of the day put to one side the amount of money you have saved from not buying cigarettes. Buy yourself something nice at the end of every week/month.
Make a plan to quit smoking
Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Sticking to the ‘not a drag’ rule can really help. Whenever you find yourself in difficulty say to yourself, “I will not have even a single drag” and stick with this until the cravings pass. Think ahead to times where it might be difficult – a party for instance – and plan your actions and escape routes in advance.
Consider your diet
Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead. You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes. Getting up and doing the dishes straight away, or settling down in a room where you don’t smoke may help.
Change your drink
The same study looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find simply changing their drink (e.g. switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice) affects their need to reach for a cigarette.
Identify when you crave cigarettes
A craving can last five minutes. Before you give up, make a list of five-minute strategies. For example, you could leave the party for a minute, dance, or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.
Get some stop smoking support
If friends or family members want to give up too, suggest to them that you give up together. There is also support available from your local stop smoking service. Did you know that you’re up to four times more likely to quit successfully with their expert help and advice? You can also call the NHS Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044 open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, and Saturday to Sunday 11am to 4pm.
A review of scientific studies has proved exercise – even a five-minute walk or stretch – cuts cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.
Make non-smoking friends
When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers. When you look at the smokers, don’t envy them. Think of what they’re doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke.
Keep your hands and mouth busy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success. As well as patches, there are tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. And if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator. There are also e-cigarettes. When you’re out, try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.
Make a list of reasons to quit
Keep reminding yourself why you made the decision to give up. Make a list of the reasons and read it when you need support. Ex-smoker Chris, 28, says: “I used to take a picture of my baby daughter with me when I went out. If I was tempted, I’d look at that.”
Read more about the stop smoking treatments available on the NHS.
Stop Smoking timeline
20 minutes after you quit
The effects of quitting start to set in immediately. Within 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate will begin to drop back toward a normal level.
2 hours after you quit
After two hours without a cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will be close to normal levels again. Your blood circulation will also start to improve. The tips of your fingers and toes may start to feel warm.
Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually start about two hours after your last cigarette. Early withdrawal symptoms include:
- intense cravings
- anxiety, tension, or frustration
- drowsiness or trouble sleeping
- increased appetite
12 hours after you quit
Carbon monoxide, which can be toxic to the body at high levels, is released from burning tobacco and inhaled as part of cigarette smoke. Carbon monoxide bonds very well to blood cells, so high levels of the gas can prevent the cells from bonding with oxygen. The lack of oxygen in the blood often causes serious heart conditions and other health problems. In as few as 12 hours after quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide in your body decreases to lower levels. In turn, the amount of oxygen in your blood increases to normal levels.
24 hours after you quit
The risk of coronary artery disease for smokers is 70 percent higher than for nonsmokers. It is the most common form of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. However, just one full day after quitting smoking, your risk for coronary artery disease will already begin to reduce. Your risk of having a heart attack also starts to decline. While you’re not quite out of the woods yet, you’re on your way
48 hours after you quit
It may not be life-threatening, but an inability to smell or taste well is one of the more obvious consequences of smoking. Once you quit smoking for 48 hours, your nerve endings will start to regrow, and your ability to smell and taste will improve. You’ll soon start to better appreciate the finer things in life.
3 days after you quit
At this point, the nicotine will be completely out of your body. This means that the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal may peak around this time. You might experience some physical and emotional symptoms during withdrawal. These include:
This is when quitting smoking can become especially difficult. If you’re able to make it to this point, reward yourself so you feel motivated to continue. Use the money you would have spent on cigarettes to buy something nice for yourself.
2 to 3 weeks after you quit
Within three weeks, you’ll be able to exercise and perform physical activities without feeling winded. Stopping smoking for a couple of weeks gives your body time to regenerate and heal. Your blood circulation and heart function will improve significantly during this time. Your lungs may also begin to clear, allowing you to breathe more easily. For most smokers, withdrawal symptoms start to subside about two weeks after quitting.
1 to 9 months after you quit
After one month without cigarettes, the cilia inside your lungs will begin to repair. The cilia are the tiny, hair-like structures that push mucus out of the lungs. Once the cilia are able to do their job efficiently, they can fight off infection and clear the lungs more easily. With properly functioning lungs, your coughing and shortness of breath will continue to decrease dramatically. Your withdrawal symptoms will also go away completely within nine months after quitting. The length of time it takes varies depending on how long and how often you smoked before quitting.
1 year after you quit
The one-year mark is a big one. After a year without smoking, your risk for heart disease is lowered to half that of a smoker’s. This means that someone who smokes is more than twice as likely as you are to develop any type of heart disease.
5 years after you quit
A wide array of toxic substances is released in the burning of tobacco. Over time, these substances cause your blood vessels to narrow, which increases your risk of having a stroke. After five to 15 years of not smoking, your risk of having a stroke is the same as that of a nonsmoker.
10 years after you quit
Smokers are at higher risk than nonsmokers for a daunting list of cancers. These include:
- oral cancer
- throat cancer
- oesophagal cancer
- lung cancer
- kidney cancer
- pancreatic cancer
Of these cancers, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer that affects smokers. Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer and accounts for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths worldwide. It may take 10 years, but if you quit, eventually your risk of dying from lung cancer will drop to half that of a smoker’s. Ten years after quitting, your risk of getting other types of cancer also decreases.