Smoking: Quitting and the health effects | ͵͵


Skip to content
Please donate


Habits can be hard to change, especially ones we enjoy, so it normally takes a few attempts for people to give up smoking for good. But even after years of smoking, it's still worth giving up. 

How does smoking affect my health?

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, and around 74,000 people die each year because of it.

Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals that are bad for our bodies, and smoking them can:

  • increase your blood pressure and heart rate
  • lead to poor blood circulation
  • age the skin quickly so you get more wrinkles
  • cause bad breath, yellow teeth, taste problems and gum disease.

Smoking has also been linked to many long-term conditions such as:

  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • macular degeneration
  • lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • osteoporosis
  • some cancers.

Why should I quit smoking now?

Whatever your age, stopping smoking can have a range of benefits. Many of these benefits can be immediate – but the sooner you quit, the sooner your body can start to heal. Quitting will help you:

  • breathe more easily
  • feel better overall and have more energy
  • reduce your risk of heart disease, lung problems and cancer
  • recover more quickly from an infection or after an operation
  • protect the health of others around you who may be affected by second-hand smoke
  • save money
  • live longer.

What help and support is available to help me quit smoking?

It’s important you have the right support around you before you give up. Let your family and friends know you're quitting, or join a support group where you’ll meet others who are going through the same experience.

There’s no one way to quit smoking – or best way. There are a range of options available so if something doesn’t work the first time then it’s worth trying another way. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about what might work for you. Stop smoking treatments and options include:

  • prescribed medications
  • nicotine products such as gum, lozenges or patches
  • local NHS Stop Smoking Service – one-on-one or group support combined with stop smoking medications or nicotine products.

NHS Stop Smoking service

There are free local Stop Smoking services across the UK. They offer free one-to-one support along with stop smoking medicines, which are available for the cost of a prescription.

What happens to your body when you quit smoking?

Giving up smoking can make you feel uncomfortable because your body is adjusting to not having nicotine. In the first few days or weeks, you may have cravings, difficulty sleeping or an increased appetite – and feel irritable, stressed or anxious. However, there's support available to help you through this period, and the discomfort will fade with time.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local ͵͵s.

Share this page

Last updated: Apr 08 2024

You may also be interested in...

Hearing loss

Hearing loss affects 1 in 5 adults in the UK. See our information on common hearing problems and hearing aids.

It's not just your age

Getting older can bring with it some challenges. But feeling down isn’t a natural part of ageing.

Look after each other

In winter, it’s really important we keep an eye on the people in our lives who might need a little extra support.

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top