Below is a summary of key points for smokers wanting to quit
No Smoking Day (March 14th) is an excellent time for UK smokers to think about stopping and to get started on the best ways to stop. Around 1 million people across the UK use No Smoking Day as the start to quitting smoking for good.
World No Tobacco Day? UK smokers have two major calendar dates as prompts to stop, No Smoking Day on March 14th, a UK initiative, and World No Tobacco Day (annually on 31st May), organized by the World Health Organization.
Why stop? As well as causing well-known problems such as premature skin ageing and impotence, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the UK, causing around one in five deaths, and killing one in two lifetime smokers. Smoking causes increased risk of serious illness and of premature death from heart and lung disease and a wide range of cancers. And these risks not only affect smokers: they are transferred by passive smoking to adult friends and family, children and babies, and people who just happen to be near to smokers.
How quickly does quitting smoking help? Very. A recent report from Glasgow has shown a large decrease in the number of premature births and the underweight babies with reduced smoking by pregnant mothers. An for example in the first 10 months after the smoking ban in public places in Scotland, there were 1 in 7 fewer admissions to hospital for acute coronary disease among smokers, and a 1 in 5 reduction in former smokers. There was also a large early impact of reducing passive smoking, with ~1 in 5 fewer coronary events both in people who had never smoked and in ex-smokers.
How can drugs help? Drugs such as nicotine replacement treatments are helpful when smokers first start to quit. And nicotine replacement treatments and other drugs such as bupropion can help people who have stopped to stay quit of smoking. Drugs work best when combined with the kind of support available from the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Local NHS Stop Smoking staff can advise smokers on which medicines can help.
Who can help? Depending on personal preference NHS Stop Smoking support can send mailed information, text messages, emails and provide online help. Other helpful advice is available from the British Heart Foundation ‘WeQuit’, which has over 20,000 volunteers ready to help smokers who want to stop. And several helpful smartphone apps are now available.