Smoking has serious negative effects on your overall health and life expectancy. 1 in 2 smokers will die of a tobacco-related illness. Smoking has a significant effect on your heart health and can increase your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
It is never too late to quit smoking. If you do decide to quit smoking, you will experience immediate benefits to your overall health and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
In as little as 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate will lower and your circulation will improve. Within 8 hours, oxygen levels in your blood will start to rise as nicotine and carbon monoxide begin to leave your system. After 72 hours, your breathing will start to improve and you might notice improvements in your energy levels. After 2-3 months, your lung capacity can increase by up to 30%. After 1 year, your chance of having a heart attack drops by half. After 5 years, the risk of developing smoking-related cancers is reduced and after 10 years your risk of lung cancer is reduced by half. After 15 years of quitting smoking your chance of having a heart attack is at the same level as a non-smoker.
Smoking and Mental Health
Quitting smoking can also improve your mental health and well-being. Stopping smoking can improve your mood and help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
It is a common misconception that smoking can help improve stress, anxiety and mood – when in fact it does the opposite. This is due to nicotine, which is found in cigarettes. Nicotine is addictive. So, when a smoker has not had a cigarette in a while, their nicotine levels begin to drop, causing symptoms of withdrawal (irritability and anxiousness). When a person smokes a cigarette, they relieve these feelings of nicotine withdrawal. So, the person associates smoking with improved mood and stress relief. Nicotine levels rise and fall throughout the day and tend to be lowest in the morning after waking which is why some smokers find their morning cigarette is the one they crave the most. The addictive nature of nicotine makes quitting smoking difficult, so it is very helpful to use the free quit-smoking supports available. Getting the right support and medicines can increase your chances of quitting by 3 to 4 times.
Quit Smoking Supports
Free HSE Quit Programme:
You can sign up for a free, personalized Quit plan to help you stop smoking. You decide how you want your plan to work and can get:
- Daily support by email and text message
- A Quit account to track your progress
- 1-to-1 support from a trained advisor
- Tips from people who’ve successfully stopped smoking
FREEPHONE 1800 201 203
FREETEXT QUIT TO 50100
Sign-up online here
Find a local Stop Smoking Advisor or service in your area:
Click here to find information local to you
Getting Ready to Quit Smoking
Below are some tips that may be helpful as you begin to quit smoking:
- Keep a smoking diary for 2 weeks – this can help you to understand your smoking pattern and triggers for smoking.
- Think of ways that you could deal with or avoid situations that trigger you to smoke.
- Set a Quit date and make a Quit plan that you can stick to.
- Get support from Quit.ie, local Stop Smoking Advisors and other people who are quitting smoking at the same time.
- Be prepared for cravings and withdrawals – these are temporary and won’t last forever. For more information on dealing with cravings and withdrawals, click here.
- Get support from HSE stop smoking advisors and other people quitting at the same time as you.
- Prepare to cope with cravings and withdrawal – they won’t last forever.
- Ask about how nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches or gum) or prescription treatments might help you. For more information on nicotine replacement therapy click here.
- For more information on prescription medications click here.
Stopping smoking is hard, but with the right supports, you can stop smoking for good.