Heart disease, lung disease, cancer and stroke are vital reasons to stop smoking – but relieving stress is one which is less well known.
This year on No Smoking Day (March 10), smokers are being urged to take the stress out of quitting by getting the right support and beating the cravings which can undermine a quit attempt.
As well as reducing the risks of a serious smoking-related disease, evidence shows that quitting smoking can reduce anxiety, depression and stress and leave people feeling happier in the long term .
It comes as a powerful plea by respiratory doctor Dr Ruth Sharrock hits screens as part of the Don’t Wait campaign from the NHS and Fresh.
For smokers 2020 has been an important year to quit. It has been estimated that a million people nationally quit smoking during the first lockdown and hundreds of thousands have maintained that success, with 2020 having the highest rates of successful quitting since 2007.
Dr Ruth Sharrock, respiratory consultant with Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, and the face of the “Don’t Wait” TV campaign, said: “I want to everyone to look forward to a more positive 2021 where we can reflect on our health and fitness, ability to cope with infections and make some really positive changes.
“For smokers – the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and extend your life expectancy is to stop smoking.
She added: “When it comes to stress, I have had patients reflect that once they have stopped they have realised that the feeling that smoking was relieving stress was false, the stress of thinking about the next cigarette was a vicious cycle and quitting allowed them break free from this.
“Not only does smoking improve health, but the extra money you could save can also ease a few worries and strains. One of my patients has money in his pocket for the first time and says he feels like he has won the lottery.”
Many people try to quit smoking with willpower alone, but it’s much easier with the right support. Several different treatments are available from shops, pharmacies and on prescription to help you beat your addiction and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
To get started, contact your pharmacy, GP or to find local support and free online quitting tools visit https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/