The truth about quitting smoking

10 July 2018

There are many myths out there about quitting smoking. Many believe once the damage is done it’s irreversible, but are they only trying to convince themselves so they can carry on smoking? Within the first 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure returns to a normal level, so imagine what longer could do…

If you’re a smoker and have been on a long haul flight, your body would have already started restoring itself during this time. Eight hours after your last cigarette, carbon monoxide in your bloodstream is cut in half – if you can do it during a flight, try it on a regular day.

If you didn’t smoke for a whole weekend, your nerve endings start to regenerate and you can smell and taste things better. So that cocktail you’ll be sipping on and freshly cut grass will taste and smell ten times better!

If you have children and will be enjoying some time off with them over the summer break, these two months of no smoking will see your circulation improve and lung function increase by up to 30%. So why not give your lungs a break and work towards a healthier life!

In the time that it would take you to train for a marathon, one year, your risk of a heart attack is reduced to half. Think of how quickly a year goes past and how you would be feeling now, if you quit last year.

Next time you think about lighting that cigarette, remember the above facts, if the health benefits of quitting come as soon as 20 minutes, what could years do? Your health could be back to that of a non-smoker, dispelling all previous myths. Within 5 years your risk of a stroke is reduced to a non-smoker, 10 years and as is the risk of lung cancer and 15 years after quitting your risk of a heart attack is that of a non-smoker. 

For those who don’t smoke the key message is, be smart, don’t start. For those looking to give up or waiting for a reason, there is never a better time to quit. It’ll be hard, but hang tough and don’t puff.

In January 2019, all Spire sites are going to go smoke free, including us at Spire Harpenden. As a healthcare provider, we want to set an example to our patients and staff for adopting a healthier lifestyle. With the smoking ban including vaping and e-cigarettes, we hope that it will deter people from smoking in a healthcare environment, and in turn, support them on a path to a better quality of life.

Dr Abi Jackson is a Respiratory Consultant working at Spire Harpenden Hospital and is the smoking cessation lead at West Herts NHS hospital. Dr Jackson states that ‘smoking may seem like a lifestyle choice that you are making when you first take it up, one that you can stop at any time.  However nicotine is an addictive substance acting on receptors in your brain to give you a positive effect and when you are trying to give up 20 years later because you’re a little bit more breathless than you were, or you’ve decided to be more healthy, it can be much harder than you think.  There is help out there to help you manage those withdrawal symptoms and cravings so give your lungs (and the rest of your body) a chance in life and use this opportunity to try quitting that smoking habit.  If you’ve already tried, that’s not an excuse to give up trying, but another opportunity to try again’.

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