You can eat five portions of fruit and veg a day and exercise regularly,
but healthy behaviour means little if you continue to smoke.
The message that 'smoking is bad for you' is an old one, so not everyone gives it their full attention.
Within this section you will find out about more about the health risks of smoking, how to quit and
where to get help.
The new smokefree law has been introduced to protect employees and the public from the harmful
effects of secondhand smoke (passive smoking). Local councils are responsible for enforcing the
new law in England. They have worked closely with businesses ensuring that everyone
understands how to become smokefree.
Anyone who smokes in a smokefree place could face an on the spot fine of £50 (or £200 if the matter goes to court)
Why you might smoke:
Tobacco is a stimulant which gives you a lift.
Smoking helps tension and anxiety - this isn't completely true - the stimulants in tobacco give you a lift, but it may be the action of smoking that takes your mind off your problems, rather than the tobacco itself.
Smoking can help you stay slim - this is a myth. Smoking might take your mind off food for a while but it doesn't stop you being hungry.
Smoking makes you more sociable and you look cool and sexy - look at all the pop and film stars who smoke. What you need to remember here is that you may think you look good but you will be at risk from smoking-related diseases, your skin will become 40% thinner than a non-smokers and you will get more wrinkles in later life.
Why you shouldn't smoke
Most people know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it can also cause many other cancers and illnesses.
Smoking kills around 114,000 people in the UK each year. Of these deaths, about 42,800 are from smoking-related cancers, 30,600 from cardiovascular disease and 29,100 die slowly from emphysema and other chronic lung diseases.
Bad for your bank balance
If you smoke ten cigarettes a day you will spend around £800 or more a year, you could buy 60 CDs or go on holiday for the same amount. Added to this, the nicotine in tobacco is addictive making it hard to stop once you have started- a never ending cost!
Smokers take 25 per cent more sick days year than non-smokers.
It is now illegal to smoke in any enclosed public place and you could face a fine of £50.
Bad for your looks!
Smoking makes your hair, breath and clothes smell and can make your teeth and skin yellow.
Smoking increases your risk of periodontal disease, which causes swollen gums, bad breath and teeth to fall out.
Smokers have paler skin and more wrinkles. This is because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers levels of vitamin A.
Smokers’ skin will become 40% thinner than a non-smokers
Shortens your life
Research has shown that smoking reduces life expectancy by 7-8 years. On average, each cigarette shortens a smoker's life by around 11 minutes. Therefore, Non-smokers and ex-smokers can look forward to a healthier old age than smokers.
Of the 300 people who die every day in the UK as a result of smoking, many are comparatively young smokers. Shockingly, the number of people under the age of 70 who die from smoking-related diseases exceeds the total figure for deaths caused by breast cancer, AIDS, traffic accidents and drug addiction.
Impacts on others
Smoking whilst pregnant can be dangerous for the unborn baby: Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are twice as likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight.
Passive Smoking: The 'side-stream' smoke that comes off a cigarette between puffs carries a higher risk than directly inhaled smoke. For adults, passive smoking seems to increase the risk of lung cancer.
Risks to your health
This is the main cause of death due to smoking. Hardening of the arteries is a process that develops
over years, when cholesterol and other fats deposit in the arteries, leaving them narrow, blocked or
rigid. When the arteries narrow (atherosclerosis), blood clots are likely to form. Smoking accelerates
this hardening and narrowing process in your arteries: it starts earlier and blood clots are two to four
times more likely. Cardiovasular disease can take many forms depending on which blood vessels
are involved, and all of them are more common in people who smoke.
Smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers. This is particularly true of lung cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer, which hardly ever affect non-smokers.
The link between smoking and lung cancer is clear. Ninety percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. If no-one smoked, lung cancer would be a rare diagnosis - only 0.5 per cent of people who've never touched a cigarette develop lung cancer.
One in ten moderate smokers and almost one in five heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day) will die of lung cancer. The more cigarettes you smoke in a day, and the longer you've smoked, the higher your risk of lung cancer. Similarly, the risk rises the deeper you inhale and the earlier in life you started smoking. If you smoke, the risk of contracting mouth cancer is four times higher than for a non-smoker.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a collective term for a group of conditions that block airflow and make breathing more difficult, such as:
Emphysema - breathlessness caused by damage to the air sacs (alveoli)
Chronic bronchitis - coughing with a lot of mucus that continues for at least three months.
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD and is responsible for 80% of cases.
As the condition progresses, severe breathing problems can require hospital care. The final stage is death from slow and progressive breathlessness. Lung damage from COPD is permanent, but giving up smoking at any stage reduces the rate of decline in lung capacity.
Smoking raises blood pressure, which can cause hypertension (high blood pressure)- a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
- Couples who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems than couples who are non-smokers.
- Smoking worsens asthma and counteracts asthma medication.
- The blood vessels in the eye are sensitive and can be easily damaged by smoke, causing a bloodshot appearance and itchiness.
- Smokers run an increased risk of cataracts.
- Smoking causes an acid taste in the mouth and contributes to the development of ulcers.
- Smoking can cause impotence.