7 Jun 2022

Quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is not only good for you, your mental and physical health, but also those you love. Read more about how to put it out for good, the health and financial benefits, and the impact it will have on your loved ones.

Let’s clear the smoke from our eyes

While smoking prevalence is at an all-time low in England, but over 6 million people are still smoking. 

Smoking rates have declined in England from 17.1% in 2013/14 to 14.5% in 2018/19. The decline in smoking rates have also been seen among adults with long-term mental health conditions, falling from 35.3% in 2013/14 to 26.8% in 2018/19, however the prevalence remains substantially higher.

While the improvement is to be celebrated, there is still plenty more work to do as so many continue to damage their health through smoking.

Latest NHS Digital smoking facts:

  • 489,300 hospital admissions attributable to smoking
  • 77,800 deaths attributable to smoking
  • 14.4% of adults are classified as currently smoking
  • 0.6% of mothers were smokers at the time of delivery

Why should I stop smoking?

  • You’ll live longer, feel better and have more money to spend on things and activities you enjoy doing
  • If you already have a lung condition, stopping smoking is the best step you can take for your health and improve your quality of life. It will help you cope with your symptoms and stop your condition getting worse, e.g. smokers are five times more likely to catch flu
  • It’s never too late to stop, no matter how long you have smoked for. Your lungs will work better, even if you stop when you’re over 60. If you stop smoking when you’re 30, you’re likely to live ten years longer
  • You’ll protect people around you who used to breathe in your smoke. People who breathe in second-hand smoke are at risk of the same diseases as smokers. Second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous to babies and children as their lungs are still developing and are much more vulnerable to breathing in toxic materials
  • Stopping is a key way to protect your children’s health in the long term. Children are much more likely to take up smoking if their parents smoke

As if that’s not enough, you’ll see improvements to your smell, taste, and skin. Quitting smoking can reduce tiredness and headaches while improving your libido, fertility, breath and whiteness of your teeth. Your circulation improves, as does your immune system. And the benefits aren’t just personal, those around you cease to suffer the consequences of breathing second-hand smoke.

E-cigarettes – what’s the story?

E-cigarettes, also known as Vapourisers or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), are handheld battery-operated devices which deliver nicotine-containing vapour.

There are an estimated 2.5 million e-cigarette users across the UK, and we’ve become used to seeing people “vaping”.
A review of the latest available evidence suggests that while e-cigarettes are not completely risk-free, they are at least 95% less harmful to health than tobacco smoking - a view supported by many including the Royal College of physicians, Cancer research UK and the US National Academy of Sciences.

Evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes have significantly reduced levels of exposure to key toxicants as compared to cigarettes, with average levels of exposure falling well below the thresholds for concern.

E-cigarettes have become the most popular aid to quitting smoking in the UK, and a Royal College of General practitioners position statement suggests that “using their clinical judgement on an individual patient basis, primary care clinicians may wish to promote e-cigarette use as a means to stopping.

Patients choosing to use an e-cigarette in a quit attempt should be advised that seeking behavioural support alongside e-cigarette use increases the chances of quick success further”.

There is no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you. This is in contrast smoking.

Authorities in the USA are investigating a multistate outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury, also known as EVALI. The US outbreak peaked in summer 2019, and at the time of writing the outbreak in the USA seems to be in decline.
It has been suggested that vaping associated lung injury may be related to the use of e-cigarette devices to deliver chemicals, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and cannabinoids, in an aerosol that contains vitamin E, although the exact cause remains unclear.

Of note, THC is illegal in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971). Also, vitamin E, along with other vitamins, is not permitted as an ingredient in notifiable nicotine e-cigarettes or e-liquids in the UK.

There are lots of ways to stop smoking. So, take the first step and change your life! See the button below.

Are you ready to quit?

Take the quiz

References:

  • Gordon T, Fine J. Cornering the Suspects in Vaping-Associated EVALI.N Engl J Med. 2020 Feb 20;382(8):755-756
  • Kalininskiy A et al. E-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI): case series and diagnostic approach.Lancet Respir Med. 2019 Dec;7(12):1017-1026
  • MHRA (28/1/2020). Drug Safety Update volume 13, issue 6: January 2020: 1.
  • McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L, Robson D. Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018: a report commissioned by Public Health England. 2018.
  • RCGP Position Statement on the use of electronic nicotine vapour products (E-Cigarettes) - Updated September 2017.
  • MHRA (28/1/2020). Drug Safety Update volume 13, issue 6: January 2020: 1.
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaping-in-england-an-evidenc…
  • https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2019/02/27/e-cigarette-evidence…