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5 Reasons to Quit Smoking

Stopping smoking is hard, but it can be done. If you're looking for that last push, read our top five reasons to quit smoking.

You've turned the packet featuring the blackened lung over so you don't have to look at it.

You've read the newspaper reports that state that smoking is the cause of 72% of the 47,000 cases of lung cancer in the UK each year.1

Despite smoking being proven to harm just about every part of the body, still around 7.2 million adults in the UK regularly 'light up'. That's 15% of adults.2

Even if you've been a regular smoker for years and years, stopping and staying smoke free is one of the best things you can do to look after your health.

It’s not too late to reap the benefits of quitting cigarette smoking.

1. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of heart disease

Smokers have a much higher risk of heart attack than non-smokers. If you're a smoker under 40, it's thought you're as much as five times as likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers.

If you quit smoking, within one year your risk of heart attack will drop to about half that of a smoker.

After 15 years your risk falls to a level similar to that of a person who has never smoked.

2. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of lung cancer

Smoking is the leading cause of cancer overall in the UK.

Many people are aware of the link between smoking and lung cancer, but actually there are 15 types of cancer known to be caused by smoking.2

If smokers quit before the age of 30 they can avoid almost all of the risk of lung cancer attributable to smoking.3 This is just one of many health benefits, but it's a big one.

For more information on lung cancer, and other cancers, please visit our Cancer Care Hub.

3. Quitting smoking improves your fertility

Smoking, including passive smoking, affects fertility for both men and women. In men it is linked to sperm abnormalities and it has been shown to affect the receptivity of the womb in women.4

So if you’re trying to conceive and either you or your partner smoke, quitting will significantly increase your chances.

4. Non-smokers enjoy better sex

Stopping smoking improves the flow of blood around the body and that can make a big difference to sensitivity.

Women may find they become aroused more easily and enjoy better orgasms and men who stop smoking may reduce impotence and get better erections.

5. Quitting smoking improves well-being and increases energy

Your circulation will improve in as little as two weeks after stopping smoking, so you’ll feel the almost immediate benefits of having more energy as oxygen levels in the body increase (smoking raises your carbon monoxide levels).

It may make exercise easier, headaches less frequent and your immune system will get a boost, so you’re less likely to get run down with constant colds and flu.

What happens when you stop smoking?

After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal.

After 8 hours, the levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your blood drop significantly and the oxygen levels rise.

After 1 day your heart and lungs start to repair themselves and your body starts to clear out the toxins found in cigarette smoke.

After 2 days, your body is clear of nicotine. You may start to smell and taste things more clearly.

After 3 days, your breathing improves. You may feel more energised and have less shortness of breath.

After 1 week, nicotine withdrawal symptoms should be much less severe and quitting should feel a lot easier.

3 months in, your circulation improves and your voice may even change, becoming less hoarse.

After 9 months, your lung function has improved by 10% and you should have shaken off any persistent cough.

1 year after you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack has fallen by half.

After 10 years, your risk of lung cancer has fallen by half.

If you quit smoking for 15 years, your risk of heart attack is the same as someone who has never smoked.

Find out more about how stopping smoking affects your body

How do I quit successfully?

If the thought of going cold turkey sounds too hard, speak to NHS Smoke Free about nicotine replacement therapy and emotional support.

For more information on any kind of cancer, visit our Cancer Care Hub. Designed to give you all the facts at your fingertips, here you’ll find a range of easy to read infographics, answers to common questions from our specialist consultants and comprehensive information on screening, diagnostics and treatment options.

Our Advanced Health Assessment investigates risks to your heart and lung health as well as your risk of various cancers, to help you to improve your health and wellbeing.


4Ramlau-Hansen CH et al. Is smoking a risk factor for decreased semen quality? A cross-sectional analysis. Hum Reprod. 2007 Jan;22(1):188-96


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