Your Doctor

Quit to Help Your Children


9.4 million people smoke in the UK, 1.7 million are admitted to hospital every year because of a smoking related condition and about 100,000 people die each year in the UK as a result of a condition attributed to smoking. Smoking related conditions also put a huge strain on NHS finances and resources. 

Here are some facts about smoking which might make you change your mind about picking up your next cigarette: 

1. When you smoke, you inhale over 7000 chemicals into your lungs including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.

2. Smoking will thicken your blood and thin your arteries, which makes it harder for oxygen to be delivered to the cells of the body. This causes your heart to work much harder, and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. 

3. Smokers are three times more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers. The more you smoke, the more this risk increases. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you are six times more likely to have a stroke compared to a non-smoker.

4. Smokers have an increased chance of getting stomach ulcers because smoking increases acid secretion and reduces the lower oesophageal muscle function. Gastro oesophageal reflux is caused by increased acid which means acid from your stomach travels the wrong direction and goes back up your oesophagus causing painful reflux. It is also thought to impair your muscles in the throat. 

5. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen reaching your skin. This is because nicotine constricts the vessels in the skin and reduces nutrients that keep your skin healthy particularly Vitamin A, which makes you age faster, dulls your skin and also increases cellulite.

6. Smoking can cause male impotence. Smoking damages the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. It can also reduce your sperm count and increase your chance of developing testicular cancer.

7. Smoking whilst pregnant puts you at risk of miscarrying, suffering a still birth and increases the risk that your baby is born prematurely. Studies show that smoking could also increase the chances of cot death by 25%.

8. Smoking increases the production of bacterial plaque which puts smokers at a greater risk of developing problems in their mouth, such as tooth decay and gum disease which could lead to tooth loss and bad breath.

9. Female smokers are thought to enter menopause much earlier than non-smokers. Scientists have discovered that the toxins in cigarette smoke stimulate gene damage which can cause a woman’s ovaries to stop producing eggs.

10. Studies show that smoking can also affect your eyes. Smokers are thought to be at greater risk of macular degeneration, cataracts and poor eyesight. 

11. Over time, inhaling smoke will mean that the ciliary hairs no longer work. This causes mucus build up and causes damage to the lining of the lungs which puts you at greater risk of chest infections or viral infections.


E-cigarettes are thought to be a good alternative to smoking tobacco but e-cigarettes are unregulated and their contents aren’t always clear. They do contain nicotine which helps to stop the tobacco cravings and this is what makes tobacco so addictive. they are believed to be safer than cigarettes because they don’t have the toxic smoke and can help you stop smoking but there is not enough research for the medical profession to endorse them yet.

The good news is:-

• It is never too late to stop smoking and stopping smoking regardless of your age will greatly benefit your health. Two weeks after stopping you will reduce your chance of a heart attack and lung function is improving

• There are fewer of us smoking. In 1972 just under half of adults in the UK were smokers. By 1990 this had fallen to just under a third. At present, about a sixth of UK adults are smokers.

So, smoking detrimentally affects almost every part of your body, however, it is extremely addictive which means that quitting isn’t always easy. Here are our top five tips on how to quit smoking for good: 

1. Set a date and time to stop smoking and smoke normally up until that point. Slowly cutting down on cigarettes can have a psychological effect that makes the cigarettes seem far more precious than they actually are.

2. Let your friends and relatives know that you are quitting smoking, especially if they are smokers. If your friends are aware of your plans they will find ways to be more considerate of your choice. 

3. If you would like some extra help then visit your GP. They can prescribe you anti-smoking solutions like nicotine patches, tablets or gum and offer you advice. 

4. You are more likely to quit with the help of local stop smoking services. Try the national smoke helpline on 0300 123 1044.

5. Identify your smoking triggers by creating a craving journal. Every time you’re in a situation that makes you want to smoke, note it down. You should soon be able to track the things that make you want to smoke and then you can take steps to avoid these situations.

Most importantly, if you relapse, don’t give up! Just because you relapsed doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Keep trying and do as much as you can to reduce cravings and alleviate any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. 

Dr Peter Petrie gave his advice to The Metro on National No Smoking Day, read the article here.