Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death and avoidable illness. It affects health directly and contributes to diseases such as cancers, coronary heart disease, lung disease and stroke as well as many others.
- 9.4 million adults in the UK smoke
- Smoking kills 2800 people in NI each year
- 320 deaths each day in the UK are due to smoking
- 22% of men and 21% of women smoke the UK (General Lifestyle Survey 2008)
- 24% of men and 24% of women smoke in NI (CHS 2010)
Tobacco is killing more people in NI than illegal drug use, road traffic accidents, suicides and AIDS combined. Twenty three percent of the population of Northern Ireland are smokers with smoking causing 2300 deaths each year in Northern Ireland and 120,000 deaths UK wide. Approximately half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habit as each cigarette shortens the lifespan by five minutes, which on average shortens the smoker’s life by 10-15 years.
Smoking 20 cigarettes a day costs a person approximately £2920 per year. Seventy percent of smokers want to give it up but find it extremely difficult because of their addiction to tobacco.
Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death and avoidable illness. It contributes to many illnesses such as cancers, coronary heart disease, lung disease and stroke as well as many others. Below are some of the shocking statistics about smoking.
Deaths from Smoking:
- Tobacco kills around 114,000 people in the UK each year. In NI, this figure is 2800/3000. This accounts for 1 in 5 of all deaths
- Nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths are due to smoking
- 8 out of 10 lung cancer deaths are due to smoking
- Smoking increases the risk of heart attack by 2/3 times
- 90% of peripheral vascular disease is caused by smoking – this can result in amputation
- Diabetics who smoke double their risk of a stroke and increase their risk of a heart attack 4 times
Coronary Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):
- 83% of emphysema/bronchitis are caused by smoking
- Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage by 25% and stillbirth by 40%
Ingredients in a Cigarette
Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 different chemicals many of which are cancer causing and addictive. The chemicals found in cigarettes can also be found in these other products:
- Arsenic (poison)
- Methane (sewer gas)
- Cadmium (batteries)
- Butane (lighter fluid)
- Ethanol (alcohol)
- Formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies)
- Acetone (Paint Stripper)
- DDT (insecticides)
- Methanol (rocket fuel)
- Carbon monoxide (car exhaust fumes)
- Nicotine (insecticide)
- Ammonia (toilet cleaner)
Health Benefits of Stopping Smoking
After stopping smoking, health benefits can almost be felt immediately:
20 minutes: Blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal
8 hours: Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in blood are reduced by half, oxygen levels return to normal
24 hours: Carbon monoxide will be eliminated from the body and the lungs will start to clear out mucus
48 hours: There is no nicotine left in the body
3-9 months: Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function increases
1 year: Risk of heart attack falls to half that of a smoker
10 years: Risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker
15 years: Risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoke
- Improved sense of taste and smell
- More energy
- Clearer, less irritated eyes
- Feeling more relaxed
- Wake up feeling better
- Fewer allergy and sinus problems
- Improvement in existing problems such as asthma, diabetes and emphysema
- Improved complexion
Stopping Smoking and Gaining Weight
Gaining weight is a very real worry for lots of people who are thinking about stopping smoking. Many are actually put off the idea of giving up smoking because of this fear. The average weight gain for an individual will be about 6-8kg but and health implications caused by this minor weight gain will be far less when compared to the health risks associated with smoking.
Why do people gain weight when they stop smoking?
- Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. This means that when you stop smoking you will feel hungrier which can lead to increased snacking between meals
- Stopping smoking can alter your metabolism so that even by eating the same amount of food you may gain weight. Often when a smoker finishes a meal, they have a cigarette. When stopped smoking, the ex-smoker may continue to nibble
- Some people find eating helps them get through a craving
By taking a few easy steps weight gain can be limited whilst stopping smoking:
- Drink lots of water
- Try eating raw vegetables or frozen grapes
- Brush your teeth at the end of a meal instead of having a cigarette or leave the table straight away to avoid temptation
- Chew sugar-free gum or nicotine replacement gum instead of eating sugary foods
- Use of nicotine replacement therapy can delay the onset of weight gain
Try some gentle exercise which will help increase your metabolic rate to use up any extra calories. Exercise can also help cope with cravings and reduce stress levels.
Smoking and Pregnancy
Around one in three women are smokers when they find out that they are pregnant. Even prior to conception, cigarettes have a negative effect on the reproductive system. Research has shown that women who smoke have an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tubes and not in the womb which can be life threatening for the woman) and miscarriage. This is mainly due to the damaging effects of smoking upon the ovaries making the eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormality.
If you are planning a family it is therefore of most benefit to stop smoking in preparation for your baby’s arrival.
Unfortunately and despite the clear messages that smoking is an extremely dangerous threat to the unborn baby’s life, over half of female smokers will continue to smoke throughout pregnancy and beyond. This is definitely a lottery as we know that 5000 miscarriages and stillbirths occur in the UK every year due to smoking during pregnancy.
Some 300 babies die every year before they are even a month old because their mummy smoked while they were pregnant. Although this information is shocking, the worst is yet to come as 2200 premature births occur annually in the UK causing lifelong problems and chronic pain for some babies.
Babies who are exposed to their mummy’s cigarette smoke in the womb are receiving the thousands of dangerous chemicals through the placenta, the very organ that sustains them. Carbon Monoxide is a dangerous by product of smoking and displaces healthy oxygen in the unborn baby which in turn can hamper growth and wellbeing.
If mums smoke between 1 and 9 cigarettes daily then they increase their baby’s risk of cot death to 4 times the number of those whose mummy’s don’t smoke. We would urge women to stop smoking especially if planning a pregnancy or during pregnancy to give their babies the very best start in life.
Please feel free to contact our Smoking Cessation Midwife Cathy Bell for non- judgemental confidential advice:
Telephone: (028) 9250 1376
Or go to our Smoke Free Wombs page on Facebook.
The Financial Cost of Smoking
Smoking is an expensive habit. Have you ever sat down and worked out what exactly it coats to smoke. Take a look at the table below and you might be surprised:
Cigarettes Per Day 1 Day 1 Week 1 Month 1 Year 5 Years 5 £2 £14 £60 £730 £3650 10 £4 £28 £120 £1460 £7300 20 £8 £56 £240 £2920 £14600 30 £12 £84 £360 £4380 £21900 40 £16 £112 £480 £5840 £29200
Think for a moment on what else you could be spending this money on:
Duration Cost Treat 1 Day £8 Meet a friend for coffee or go see a movie 1 Week £56 Buy a new item of clothing 1 Month £240 Go on a weekend away or redecorate a room in your house 1 Year £2920 Take the family on holiday 5 Years £14600 Buy a new car
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is a way of getting nicotine into the bloodstream without smoking. There are various forms of NRT including nicotine gums, patches, inhalers, tablets, lozenges, and sprays. These are all available on prescription from your GP or local chemist and can also be bought from most supermarkets.
To view a leaflet on Nicotine Replacement Therapy, click here.
- Useful Links, Resources and Numbers
South Eastern Trust Stop Smoking Service:
Ulster, Bangor & Ards Hospitals – (028) 9151 1134
Downe & Lagan Valley Hospitals – (028) 9250 1383
Ulster Cancer Foundation – (028) 9066 3281
Trust Goes Smoke Free
The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust became smoke free on Wednesday 9 March 2016, National No Smoking Day.
Click on the links below to access the correct leaflet:
The smoke-free policy prohibits smoking anywhere by anyone on Trust grounds or premises, including buildings, entrances, pavements, car parks or in cars.