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Smoking and cancer: Reasons to quit

Stopping smoking will greatly reduce your risk of cancer. There are lots of good reasons to quit. Everyone's motivations to stop will be different. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Improve your health, whatever your age

Giving up smoking at any age will increase your life expectancy, provided you stop before you develop cancer or another serious disease.

The sooner you give up smoking the better. After:

  • 20 minutes - your blood pressure and pulse return to normal
  • 8 hours - nicotine, carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in your blood begin to return to normal
  • 2 days - your lungs start to clear and your sense of taste and smell begin to return
  • 3 days - breathing is easier and your energy levels increase
  • 2-12 weeks - circulation improves and exercise gets easier
  • 3-9 months - breathing problems, coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing improve
  • 5 years - risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker
  • 10 years - risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker. You have the same risk of a heart attack as someone who has never smoked.

Save yourself thousands of pounds

Smoking is very expensive. At today's rates, smoking around twenty cigarettes a day for the next twenty years would cost you over £40,000.

Write down how much you spend on cigarettes every day for a week. Then work out how much your smoking costs you every year. Think what else you could do with the money.

Look after those around you

If you smoke, you may be exposing your friends, partner or children to your smoke and endangering their health. Smoking may reduce your fertility and your chances of having a baby.

And of course, smoking around your children (or during pregnancy) can harm their health. If children are exposed to tobacco smoke, they have a higher risk of breathing difficulties and cot death - the sudden and unexpected death of young babies.

Stop the stress and the guilt

More and more buildings are now non-smoking so finding a place to smoke can be quite stressful. How many times have you felt anxious because you didn’t know when you were going to get your next cigarette? Think how nice it would be not to get stressed about where you can go to smoke.

Smokers often feel guilty. You may be trying to hide your smoking from your partner or children. Have you seen people looking at you disapprovingly when you smoke in public? Sometimes feeling guilty about smoking means that you don't enjoy cigarettes as much as you did. Giving up could make you feel more in control and better about yourself.

Look younger and more attractive

Smoking ages your skin. It also makes you smell of smoke and stains your fingers and teeth. And in the long term, smoking could damage your circulation leading to gangrene and even amputation. So give up now before it’s too late.

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Updated: 14 June 2012