National No Smoking Day has a long history in the UK, with the first ever event taking place back in 1983, on Ash Wednesday. Since then, the Day has taken place on the second Wednesday in March each year with the British Heart Foundation backing the idea since 2011. No Smoking Day promotes giving up through positive encouragement, education on the benefits of stopping smoking, and advice about the best ways to quit.
The health benefits of stopping smoking
In our hearts, we all know that smoking is bad for our health. For anyone thinking of quitting, spelling out the health benefits of quitting can be a powerful motivator. Here are just some of the health improvements you’ll see, if you stop smoking.
Statistics relating to smoking and longevity make for grim reading, with around half of all long-term smokers dying prematurely, from diseases such as lung cancer or heart disease. No matter what age you decide to stop smoking, it will increase the odds of you living to a healthier, happier old age.
Smoking has a huge impact on your lung function and your ability to breathe easily. In less than a year, people who have given up smoking should see a 10% improvement in lung capacity, and should breathe more easily and cough less.
Reduced stress levels
Whilst some people claim that they smoke to calm their stress levels, it has actually been proved that non-smokers suffer less from stress than smokers. Quitting will reduce your overall stress levels, making you feel happier and calmer.
Quite apart from the fact that people generally find non-smokers much more attractive than smokers, there are some scientifically-proven benefits, when it comes to enjoyment of sex. Stopping smoking will improve blood flow, which in turn will increase sensitivity in both men and women.
Smoking has a negative effect on both men and women, in terms of fertility. Men’s sperm can be less potent, and women can find it harder to get pregnant. Stopping smoking reverses this, and also reduces the chances of miscarriage and improves the chances of having a healthy baby.
Improved energy levels
Within just a few weeks of quitting, your blood circulation will improve noticeably, and your immune system will be rejuvenated. You’ll have more energy for physical exercise, such as walking or running, and you’ll be less susceptible to viruses and minor ailments.
Whiter teeth and cleaner breath
As any non-smoker will confirm, smoking causes your teeth to stain and become yellowed, and your breath to smell. All that will improve after giving up, and you’ll also lessen the chances of gum disease or premature tooth loss.
Regular smoking can give people a pale, creased complexion, but this can be reversed by giving up. Non-smokers have been shown to have fewer wrinkles and younger looking skin.
Improved sense of smell and taste
As well as making your clothes smell and your teeth and nails go yellow, smoking cigarettes actually dulls your sense of smell and taste. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes affect the tongue through a process known as vascularisation, making the taste buds lose their shape over time. Smoking doesn’t kill taste buds, but it does make them much less effective at sending signals to your brain about the food you’re eating. Once you’ve stopped smoking, your taste buds and sense of smell will recover, allowing you to really enjoy food once again.
The best way to quit
It has been proven that people are more likely to be successful at permanently giving up smoking if they use a nicotine replacement. Nicotine replacement therapies are more effective than almost any other method of giving up. These therapies include patches, lozenges, chewing gum, inhalers or nasal sprays. One of the most effective nicotine replacement therapies, however, is e-cigarettes.
Public Health England has produced an independent review showing that e-cigarettes have real potential for helping people to give up, and it found that e-cigarettes were about 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Backing up this review, a landmark study published just days ago, and supported by the NHS, has concluded that vaping is ‘far safer than smoking’, after extensive long-term studies of real world smokers and former smokers. This study was funded by Cancer Research UK, and involved scientists from across the world.
It’s worth pointing out that e-cigarettes were actually developed in order to provide a safer alternative to smoking, so the results of these studies showing the health benefits of switching should come as no real surprise, however there has been some debate around the topic in the past.
For a smoker who is trying to quit, e-cigarettes provide a nicotine replacement in the same way that patches and gum provide, but they also offer much more in terms of a smoking-like experience. For many, that will provide a real boost to their chances of quitting permanently, which can only be a positive thing.