Smoking is the UK’s biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death, contributing to over 100,000 deaths annually.
It is thought that lung capacity can improve by up to 10% within nine months of quitting. In later years, this may mean the difference between having an active, healthy life, and wheezing and coughing when climbing the stairs.
Your circulation is likely to improve, making physical activity easier. You’ll probably have more energy too because the oxygen boost to your blood reduces tiredness.
The withdrawal from nicotine between cigarettes heightens feelings of stress and studies show that people’s stress levels are actually lower after they quit smoking.
There’s plenty of help available to stop smoking. Research shows that you’re four times more likely to succeed if you quit via a Stop Smoking service.
Your GP can also prescribe different treatments and repeat medication to help you stop smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy. These can come in the form of patches, nasalsprays, chewing gum or inhalator devices.
There has been much debate about e-cigarettes and their safety. Early evidence suggests they can be useful when stopping smoking but more studies are needed to truly understand their role in helping people quit and any risks they may pose.
There are some self-help lifestyle changes people can make too, like exercise. Physical activity may help reduce nicotine cravings.
Talk to your GP or online doctor, who can refer you to an NHS Stop Smoking service, and discuss short term treatments and medication available to help you finally kick the habit. You can also find your local NHS Stop Smoking service using this link.
The NHS “Stoptober” page contains loads more information to help you quit.
Dr. Alexandra Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.