Smoking is the leading cause of 72% of the 47,000 cases of lung cancer in the UK each year.1
Despite the dangers of smoking being well documented in society, around 7.2 million adults in the UK still smoke regularly. That's 15% of adults.2
Even if you've been a regular smoker for years, stopping is one of the best things you can do to look after your health.
It’s never too late to reap the benefits of quitting smoking.
1. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of heart disease
Smokers have a much higher risk of heart attack than non-smokers. If you're a smoker under 40, you're as much as five times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers.
If you quit smoking, your risk of having a heart attack will drop to about half that of a smoker within one year.
After 15 years, your risk falls to a level similar to that of a person who has never smoked.
2. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of lung cancer
Smoking is the leading cause of cancer overall in the UK.
Many people are aware of the link between smoking and lung cancer, but there is actually 15 types of cancer known to be caused by smoking.2
If smokers quit before the age of 30, they can avoid almost all risk of lung cancer attributable to smoking.3 This is just one of many health benefits of quitting, but it's a big one.
For more information on lung cancer, and other cancers, please visit our Cancer Care Hub.
3. Quitting smoking improves your fertility
Smoking, including passive smoking, affects fertility for both men and women. It is linked to sperm abnormalities in men and has been shown to affect the receptivity of the womb in women.4
4. Non-smokers can enjoy better sex
Women who quit smoking may find they become aroused more easily and enjoy better orgasms, and men who stop smoking may reduce impotence and get better erections.
5. Quitting smoking helps increase energy levels
Your circulation will improve in as little as two weeks after you stopping smoking, so you’ll feel the almost immediate benefits of having more energy as oxygen levels in your body increase.
It may make exercise easier and headaches less frequent. Your immune system will also function better, protecting you from colds and the flu.
What happens when you stop smoking?
After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal.
After 8 hours, the levels of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your blood drop significantly and the oxygen levels rise.
After 1 day your heart and lungs start to repair themselves and your body starts to clear out the toxins found in cigarette smoke.
After 2 days, your body is clear of nicotine. You may start to smell and taste things more clearly.
After 3 days, your breathing improves. You may feel more energised and have less shortness of breath.
After 1 week, nicotine withdrawal symptoms should be much less severe and quitting should feel a lot easier.
3 months in, your circulation improves and your voice may even change, becoming less hoarse.
After 9 months, your lung function has improved by 10% and you should have shaken off any persistent cough.
1 year after you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack has fallen by half.
After 10 years, your risk of lung cancer has fallen by half.
If you quit smoking for 15 years, your risk of heart attack is the same as someone who has never smoked.
How do I quit successfully?
If the thought of going cold turkey sounds too hard, speak to NHS Smoke Free about nicotine replacement therapy and emotional support.
For more information on any kind of cancer, visit our Cancer Care Hub. Here you’ll find a range of easy to read infographics, answers to common questions from our specialist consultants, and comprehensive information on screening, diagnostics and treatment options.
Our Advanced Health Assessment investigates risks to your heart and lung health as well as your risk of various cancers, to help you to improve your health and wellbeing.
4Ramlau-Hansen CH et al. Is smoking a risk factor for decreased semen quality? A cross-sectional analysis. Hum Reprod. 2007 Jan;22(1):188-96