We all know that smoking is bad for our health. Despite this, some older people don't see the point in quitting because they have been smoking for so long. However, it is never too late to stop smoking and improve your quality of life. In this article, we'll be sharing 10 reasons why you should stop smoking.
Before we dive into the reasons to quit smoking, let's take a look at some smoking statistics.
Fortunately, the number of smokers in the UK has been declining for decades. According to the Office for National Statistics, 14.1% of adults in the UK smoked. That's 15.9% of men and 12.5% of women. In total, this means that there are around 6.9 million adult smokers in the UK.
According to the NHS, around 78,000 people die each year in the UK from medical conditions caused by smoking. It is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the UK.
The Government has introduced price increases and media campaigns in an attempt to encourage people to quit smoking. As a result, tobacco was 30% less affordable in 2017 than it was in 2007. In fact, smokers in England spend around £14.1 billion on tobacco products each year - that's roughly £2050 per smoker.
With this in mind, let's look at 10 reasons why you should stop smoking.
1. Stop Smoking and Protect Your Loved Ones
If you stop smoking, you're not only protecting yourself. You're also protecting those around you, including your loved ones. Breathing in second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease by 24% and 25% respectively - in children and adults.
"More than 80% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, so no matter how careful you think you're being, your family still breathes in harmful poisons, putting them at risk of meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia." - NHS
For that reason, smoking in enclosed public spaces has been banned since 2007, and smoking in the car whilst children are present has been banned since 2015. By quitting, you are removing these risks from your friends and family, as well as anybody around you.
Did you know that children are most at risk from second-hand smoke? This is because they breathe faster than adults and therefore take in more of the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. Second-hand smoke accounts for the following in children:
- Over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infections.
- 120,000 cases of middle ear disease.
- 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma.
2. Quit Smoking and Increase Your Life Expectancy
It really is never too late to stop smoking! Men who stop smoking aged 60 will add three years to their life. Whether you have been a lifelong smoker or you've only smoked a handful of times, here's what happens after your last cigarette:
- After 20 minutes, your pulse rate returns to normal.
- After 8 hours, the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood reduce by more than half. Your oxygen levels return to normal.
- After 48 hours, carbon monoxide will be removed from your body. Your lungs will begin to clear out mucus and other debris. There will be no nicotine left in your body and your ability to taste and smell will improve.
- After 72 hours breathing will become easier as your bronchial tubes begin to relax and energy levels increase.
Over the next few weeks and months, your circulation will improve. Any coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will also improve. After a year, the risk of heart disease is about half compared to a person who is still smoking.
10 years after you stop smoking, the risk of lung cancer falls to around half that of a smoker. After 15 years, the risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.
3. Stop Smoking and Improve Your Fitness
Smoking limits your fitness levels. You will become out of breath easier and quicker, making any physical activities much harder. Some smokers feel out of breath from simply walking up the stairs.
Within 10 months of quitting, your lung capacity will increase by up to 10%. This will have a huge impact, helping you walk to the shops, or get to the gym for a workout. In turn, this will make you more active and healthier. This is vital in the fight against common medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.
4. Quitting Will Improve Your Sex Life
By quitting smoking, you can also give your sex life a boost. Stopping smoking improves circulation, which increases sensitivity. By quitting, men can lower their risk of erectile dysfunction.
Studies have also shown that non-smokers are three times more appealing to a prospective partner than smokers. In older people, this can help to combat loneliness.
5. Ditching Cigarettes Can Sharpen Your Senses
When you stop smoking, your senses of smell and taste will improve. This is smoking covers your mouth and tongue in the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes. Many people who quit say that this is one of the first changes that they notice - it can often occur within a few days.
As your senses return to normal you will be able to enjoy your favourite foods once again. You will be able to head outside and breath in the fresh air, use scented candles and appreciate the many flowers in your garden.
6. Stop Smoking and Improve Your Appearance
Smoking speeds up facial ageing and leads to wrinkles. Furthermore, smokers commonly have yellow nails and stained teeth. When you stop smoking, these processes slow down significantly.
In fact, some sources suggest that quitting can start to reverse the signs of an ageing face within two weeks.
7. Stamp Out Smoking and Smell Better
You may not even realise that you smell of tobacco when you smoke. When you have a cigarette, tobacco smoke lingers on your clothes, hair, skin, and breath for a long time afterwards.
Eventually the smell may just stick with you, especially if you're a chain smoker. However, once you quit, this will begin to disappear.
8. Save Money By Stopping Smoking
It's no secret that smoking is an expensive habit. The average smoker will have 13 cigarettes a day, which adds up to 390 cigarettes a month. This equals £213 per month and £2556 each year that you could save by quitting.
Of course, some people will smoke more than 13 a day, and prices are constantly rising. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, 10 years after quitting you will have saved around £22,000. Just think about what you could do with that money!
You could take the family on holiday, buy a new car or or use it to help pay off your mortgage and bills.
What's more, being a non-smoker will also reduce the cost of your life insurance. You'll also save on trips to the doctor and prescription costs because of smoking-related symptoms.
9. Boost Your Social Life and Confidence by Quitting
All of the above reasons to stop smoking will lead to your social life improving. You will feel better about your appearance and smell; therefore you will feel more confident when you're around friends, colleagues and family.
When you're with friends at their home, in a restaurant or any enclosed public space you will no longer keep having to "pop outside for a cigarette." As you'll have more spare cash, you'll also be able to take part in more social events.
10. Quitting Smoking Gives You a Sense of Achievement
Despite all of the excellent reasons to quit smoking, we know that kicking the habit is no easy task. However, this means that the pride you feel after quitting successfully is even more satisfying.
Trying to stop smoking 'cold turkey' can be one of the hardest ways to quit. Instead, by setting yourself lots of smaller achievable targets along the way, you can feel great every time that you make them. The sense of achievement that you will feel when you hit one month, six months and a year without smoking will make the struggle worth it.
Eventually, you will feel so proud of your accomplishment that you'll never need to go back!
Protecting Your Health At Home
A personal alarm can help protect people if they suffer from medical conditions caused by smoking. If one of our alarm users feels unwell, or suffers a fall, they can press their pendant button and help will be arranged immediately.
For more information on one of our life-saving personal alarms please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, just complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 18 August 2020 to reflect current information.
Originally published November 2018.