Smoking ... You Can Quit - and change your life for the better

Giving up smoking increases your chances of living a longer and healthier life. It instantly cuts your risk of death or serious illness due to smoking-related conditions, such as lung cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Around 70% of smokers say they want to stop smoking, but most believe they are unable to.

Health benefits of quitting include: Your heart rate drops, carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in the blood return to normal, senses of taste and smell sharpen, the risk of sudden death from a cardiac event / heart attack begin to reduce, the decline in lung function slows down; lung function begins to improve.

And that's far from everything, in addition, you will enjoy reduced rates of post-operative complications, reduced incidence of respiratory infections, coughing and shortness of breath decreases, reduced severity of asthma attacks, an improved complexion, reduced risk of complications during pregnancy, reduced risk of low birth-weight in infants, symptoms of chronic bronchitis improve, ulcer risk drops, reduced risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease (coronary heart disease) risk is cut by a half one year after quitting).

Apart from all those benefits, you are no longer harming others through passive smoking, particularly babies and children, who are at risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and ear and chest infections.

It is less likely that your children will become smokers. Research shows that children living with parents who smoke are much more likely to start smoking themselves. 

You limit harm to your unborn baby. Although smoking at any stage of pregnancy can harm your baby and giving up at any stage reduces the risks, if a women can quit smoking during her first three months of pregnancy, she will have a similar risk of giving birth to a low-weight baby as a non-smoker. It will also reduce some of the increased risk of placental abruption and placental previa. so the earlier she quits, the better.

Treatment and support to quit smoking

Simply knowing the benefits of quitting is not always enough, and smokers often need a hand to kick the habit. NHS Stop Smoking support services include: Treatment and support from your GP, Nicotine replacement therapy, transdermal patches which stick to your skin, gum for chewing, inhilators which look like plastic cigarettes through which nicotine is inhaled, tablets and lozenges, nasal spray, mouth spray

Although the negative health effects of smoking are very serious, research shows that people who quit smoking before age 40 have a life expectancy that is only slightly less than people who have never smoked. Those who quit before they are 50 will still benefit considerably but the gap in life expectancy from people who have never smoked will be larger.

If you want to quit smoking it is a good idea to see your GP. They can provide help and advice about quitting, discuss potential smoking cessation medication you could use and can refer you to the NHS intensive / specialist stop smoking services. 

These services offer the best support for people who want to give up smoking. Studies show that you are four times more likely to quit smoking if you do it through intensive/specialist support and use smoking cessation medication. For more information, call Smokeline on 0800 848484.

 If you do not want to be referred to an NHS Stop Smoking support service, or go to the local pharmacy stop smoking service, your GP can still provide treatment, support and advice to help you quit smoking although success rates are not as good.

Your GP can prescribe a smoking cessation medication to help you quit. There are several medications available from your GP. The type you are prescribed will depend on your own personal preference, any previous smoking cessation medication that you have taken and any side effects they may cause. 

 One service for people who want to quit smoking in Scotland is the CanStopSmoking website. As well as this there is Smokeline telephone support available on 0800 84 84 84 and support from GPs.

All three offer a range of free advice and support for people who want to quit and can provide details of intensive / specialist support services, both one to one and group that are available in Scotland. These include NHS specialist stop smoking services (group and 1:1) and the Community Pharmacy Scheme (normally 1:1). 

Stop smoking medications are available from NHS specialist stop smoking services.