Nobody needs to be reminded about the dangers of smoking. In today’s society smoking has become a social faux-pas, deemed by many as a ‘dirty habit’. You needn’t go any further than your front room to watch a nasty television advert portraying the deadly health impacts of smoking cigarettes. Those once bright and colourful cigarette shop displays that made smoking seem that much more appealing are now a distant thing of the past, and even cigarette packaging now displays a disturbing image to remind people that what they’re looking at is poisonous and will cause harm!

It is hardly surprising to know then, that between 2011 and 2012 the UK Government's spend on stop smoking services in England alone totalled £88.2 million! - A figure that gives a sense of the overwhelming concern surrounding smoking, and the government’s desire to stamp it out. 

With such heightened societal pressures continuing to alienate smokers to the curb outside, why do so many people choose to blow smoke in the face of public concern and ignore all medically proven advice? If the answer was a simple one then smoking wouldn’t be the global health problem that it is today. What is clear is that many smokers find it difficult to give up as a result of its addictive nature.

So to coincide with ‘Stoptober’ this month, the Spire Bristol Hospital has come up with some top tips to help you, or help you help someone else kick the habit once and for all. 

• Be positive
• Set a date for stopping
• Take one day at a time
• Get moving and exercise
• Make non-smoking friends
• Keep your hands and mouth busy
• Write a list of the reasons why you want to quit
• Tell everyone that you are giving up smoking
• Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, and all cigarettes.
• Be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms
• Anticipate a cough
• Identify when you crave cigarettes - be aware of situations in which you are most likely to want to smoke
• Get some quitting support - Visit Stop Smoking Clinics 
• Use various medicines e.g. nicotine patches/gum
• Don't despair if you fail

We asked Dr Huzaifa Adamali, specialist consultant in respiratory medicine to give his opinion:

“Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of respiratory disease, including lung cancer, COPD, respiratory infections and interstitial lung disease.  The benefits of quitting smoking are substantial for smokers of any age; a person who quits smoking before age 50 has half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared with a continuing smoker.  Smoking cessation reduces the risks of developing lung cancer, with the risk falling to half that of a smoker by 10 years and one sixth that of a smoker after 15 years’ cessation. Quitting smoking in middle age substantially reduces lung cancer risk, with a 50% reduction in risk if a lifelong smoker quits at age 55 compared with age 75.  The risk of acute myocardial infarction falls very rapidly after quitting and approaches nonsmoking levels within 1 year of abstinence”.

If that isn’t enough motivation to give up then only one fact will: cigarette smoking is the greatest single cause of illness and premature death in the UK.

For more information or for help on giving up, please visit the NHS Smoke Free website and take part in the 28 day challenge.

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