Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that an estimated 7.4 million adults smoke, which is approximately 15% of the UK population.1 Despite all the associated health warnings and financial implications, this is still a high number and highlights how smoking remains a prevalent habit.
If you’re looking for a healthier way of life, cutting out cigarettes is important. Not only can it help reduce the risk of serious illness and improve your overall health, it has the added benefit of helping to save money in the long run. So, why should you go smoke free?
Reduce the risk of cancer
According to Cancer Research UK, smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for more than a quarter of cancer-related deaths in the UK.2 Inhaling the chemicals within cigarettes causes toxins to enter the body and damage DNA – the effects of which can lead to 15 different forms of cancer. Studies have found that for every 15 cigarettes smoked, a DNA change could occur which causes a cell to become cancerous.2
Decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke
Smoking damages the lining of your arteries leading to a build up of fatty material which narrows the artery – this can cause a heart attack or stroke. Research shows that smoking even just one cigarette a day can increase the risk of heart disease by 48 per cent for men and 57 per cent for women, with similar results being seen for suffering from a stroke.
Improve your immune system
Everyone is susceptible to catching a cold or coming down with a bug, but smokers have an increased risk of common illnesses. By quitting smoking, you can improve the blood circulation around your body, increase your oxygen levels and lower the risk of any inflammation – all of which give your immune system a boost.3
Reduce stress levels
You may be under the impression that lighting a cigarette can help appease your stress levels when things start to get on top of you, but this is far from the truth. According to the NHS, cigarettes are in fact one of the instigators in making us feel stressed and anxious in the first place – smoking tobacco interferes with chemicals within the brain, so when a smoker hasn’t had a cigarette for a while, they can become irritable and easily stressed.4
Once you’ve had a smoke, you may immediately feel less stressed due to the reaction of chemicals, but this is a continuing vicious cycle – it may make you feel relaxed in the short term, but it’s actually causing the stress in the first place. The NHS reports that studies have found that people who quit smoking become less stressed, depressed or anxious, and being smoke-free can improve your overall mood.
Enhance your appearance
Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide which replaces the oxygen in your skin, while nicotine reduces the blood flow, causing your skin to look discoloured and feel dry. All of these problems will lead to the skin on your face becoming aged and wrinkled, and cause the sallow, lined complexion often associated with smokers.5
Smoking can also cause your teeth to become stained because of the nicotine, and potentially lead to gum disease and premature tooth loss which may make you feel self-conscious. By cutting out cigarettes, you can help slow down the impact that smoking has had on your skin and reduce the risk of any potential issues with your teeth and gums.6
According to MoneySavingExpert, a pack of 20 cigarettes costs on average £9.91. The ONS found that the average smoker has 11 cigarettes a day1, which comes at a cost of £2,000 per annum. Even if you just have one a day, you’d still fork out £180 over the year – think of what you could be spending the money on instead!
Take a look at the NHS online calculator where you can find out your annual spend on cigarettes, based on how many you have each day.
Getting the right help and support
Quitting smoking can be very challenging, especially if you’re used to smoking large numbers of cigarettes a day. But it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to kick the habit alone. Your doctor or local GP can offer you tips and support when it comes to stopping smoking, and there are local support groups you can attend to speak with other smokers who are quitting and seek support, advice and guidance from people who are going through the same thing as you.
Our smartphones play a huge part in our everyday lives, and there are apps available to help you quit smoking. Created by the NHS, Smokefree is a four-week programme offering practical support at the touch of a screen, and Smoke Free – Stop Smoking Now gives you access to over 20 different proven techniques to help you quit smoking. You can also speak to a trained advisor on the NHS Smokefree National Helpline for additional support.
It’s hugely important to look after your health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally – something which a health care cash plan can help with. As well as making everyday health care more affordable by allowing you to claim money back towards these costs, Sovereign’s Good All Round cash plan includes a 24-hour helpline where you can get guidance, counselling and information from a trained professional on all aspects of life – including some top tips on kicking cigarettes or just some emotional support for beating the habit.
To find out more about our Good All Round cash plan, click here.