To get free help and support with quitting, give LiveWell Dorset (opens in a new window) a call today on 0800 8401628.
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the human body. It causes many diseases and reduces quality of life and life expectancy. The younger you quit, the greater the benefit, but stopping smoking is beneficial at any age. Many smokers think that smoking helps relieve stress but in fact the opposite is true and ex-smokers are more likely to have better mental health and be happier.
Smokers are at greater risk from illness and early death than non-smokers. There are many serious and often fatal diseases caused by smoking. The most common of these are:
- lung cancer – the younger you start and the more you smoke, the greater the risk
- lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema
- coronary heart disease – if you smoke, the risk of dying from coronary heart disease begins early in life. Smokers aged 40 are seven times more likely to die from a heart attack than non-smokers of the same age.
What makes cigarettes harmful?
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of them poisonous. Nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar are three components of smoke that affect the human body and cause disease.
- Carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas also found in car exhaust fumes. It reduces the amount of oxygen transported in the blood by up to 15 per cent. Carbon monoxide is linked with heart disease and circulation problems.
- Tar – contains cancer-causing substances. About 70% of the tar in cigarette smoke is deposited in the lungs where it can cause severe damage. Smokers of low-tar or mild cigarettes take in as much tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide and other poisonous substances as smokers of regular cigarettes.
Smoking and others
Smoking has an impact on other people, not only on the person who smokes. Only 15 per cent of a cigarette’s smoke is inhaled by the smoker, the rest goes into the surrounding air and other people can breathe it in.
Breathing the smoke from somebody else’s cigarette is called secondhand smoke or passive smoking. Recent research points to evidence of a new phenomenon called thirdhand smoke whereby the toxins and poisonous chemicals contained in cigarette smoke linger on surfaces and in dust long after the smoke has gone.
Such surfaces include carpets, toys, and sofas to name a few. Toxins from cigarette smoke can harm the health of families and in particular children with their developing immune system. They are more prone to chest, ear, nose and throat infections and to more serious conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Parents who smoke should also be aware of the influence they may have on their children. Children with parents or other siblings that smoke are up to three times more likely to become smokers themselves when compared to children of non-smoking households.
Smoking during pregnancy
We know that it can be difficult to quit smoking but we also know that you want to give your baby the best possible start in life. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to improve your baby’s health, growth and development. There are more than 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette and when you smoke, these poisons pass through you and into your baby. Not only is this distressing for your baby, but the exposure to these poisons can last up to 15 minutes each time you smoke a cigarette and can cause immediate and long-term damage. This happens every time you smoke so quitting is the best option rather than cutting down.
Smoking while you are pregnant increases the risk of your baby being born weaker and smaller and early (premature) and needing specialist intensive care after birth and increases the risk of sudden infant death by 25%.
Partners can also help by quitting themselves, as secondhand smoke also increases the risk of miscarriage, birth defects and low birth weight.
It is never too late to try to quit and the good news is that if you can quit early in the first three months of pregnancy then your risk of have a low birth weight baby and premature baby reduces to the same as that of a non-smoker.
If you are pregnant, speak to your midwife about wanting to quit, and they will be able to give you immediate support with stopping
Smoking in cars
From the 1 October 2015, smoking in cars whilst carrying young people will be illegal. The driver and/or the smoker could be fined £50.
The law applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those aged 17 and those with a provisional driving licence. The law does not apply if the driver is 17 years old and is on their own in the car.
This law is to help protect people, particularly the young, who are vulnerable to the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Every time a child breathes in secondhand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals. This puts them at risk of serious conditions including meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also make asthma worse.
Click here for more information on SmokeFree cars (opens in new window)
For friendly advice and support on cutting down, or giving up smoking, please contact LiveWell Dorset (opens in new window)
Stop smoking services
We commission services that support people to stop smoking.
To get free help and support with quitting, give LiveWell Dorset (opens in a new window) a call on 0800 8401628.
LiveWell Dorset works with locally-based GP practices and pharmacies to provide services that are really effective in helping people to stop smoking. You can have support from a trained smoking cessation advisor who will work with you over several weeks.
They can also offer medication to help you overcome the cravings to smoke. Long-term support can also be arranged by LiveWell Dorset advisors, helping you to stay smokefree in the future. Sometimes it takes a while for people to people to quit for good. Our services are there for you for as long as it takes.