STOPTOBER: How to stop smoking and how it can benefit you and your loved ones

Stoptober is the 28-day challenge to stop smoking for good. Stopping smoking is the best thing that you can do for your health, no matter how many you smoke a day. 

Stoptober launched in 2012 to help encourage and support smokers across England towards quitting for good. The challenge is based on the research that stopping smoking for 28 days means you are five times more likely to stay smoke free.

The health risks

Smoking causes the most preventable deaths in England, accounting to nearly 80,000 deaths each year. This means one in two smokers will die from a smoking related disease. Tobacco smoke contains over 5,000 chemicals such as tar and other harmful chemicals. It also contains nicotine which makes smoking highly addictive.

Smoking can cause serious diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are caused by smoking.

Smoking affects many aspects of your body including:

  • Blood circulation – smoking increases the chances of your arteries narrowing and clots forming, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke
  • Your heart – smoking increases your chance of getting conditions such as coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease
  • Your stomach – increasing your chance of stomach cancer or ulcers
  • Damage to your skin – smoking reduces oxygen in your skin which leads to your skin ageing quicker and looking grey and dull
  • Your bones can become brittle – this is a higher risk to women
  • Your brain – by smoking you double your risk of dying from a stroke. It also increases your chances of having a brain aneurysm
  • Damages your lungs – causing coughing, colds, wheezing and asthma
  • Your mouth and throat – it can cause unappealing problems like bad breath and stained teeth. It can also cause gum disease and damage your taste buds
  • Your reproduction and fertility – smoking can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis which can cause male impotence. It can also cause cervical cancer, miscarriages, premature birth, stillbirth and increases the risk of cot death by at least 25%

See the difference faster than you think:

After 20 minutes: your pulse rate will start to return to normal

After 8 hours: your oxygen levels will return to normal and carbon monoxide levels in your blood will be reduced by half

After 48 hours: your body will have flushed out all carbon monoxide

After 72 hours: your breathing will start to feel easier because your bronchial tubes will start to relax

After 2 – 12 weeks: your blood will be pumping through your heart and muscles much better because your circulation will have improved

After 3 – 9 months: any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems will improve. Your lung function increases by up to 10%

After 1 year: Your risk of heart attack will have halved compared to a smoker

After 10 years: Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved

After 15 years: Your risk of heart attack will be the same as someone who has never smoked

Tips to help you stop smoking:

  1. Make a list of the reasons to quit – this is a great way to remind yourself of why you’re quitting and to push you to keep going, whether its money, health, family or for yourself
  2. Change your routine after meal times – food like meat can make cigarettes more satisfying, try swapping for fruit and vegetables that makes cigarettes taste bad
  3. Tell other people that you’re quitting – having a support network will help you to stay motivated and help distract you when your craving smoking
  4. Try smoking aids – there are many different aids to help you stop smoking such as prescription tablets to nicotine replacement therapies. A GP or pharmacist can help advise what is best for you
  5. Exercise your cravings away – keeping busy and active is a great way to occupy your mind from thinking about smoking
  6. Download the Stoptober app which offers daily support, tips, goals and motivation to help you quit
  7. Get support from others – hearing other people’s stories and advice can help you find inspiration and motivate you to quit. For fast support you can call the NHS smoke free helpline on 0300 123 1044 from Monday to Friday between 9am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm

Most of all, stay positive and remember what motivates you to stop smoking, whether it’s for someone you love or for changing how you want to feel about yourself.

Head to: www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/quit-smoking/stoptober/ for further support.