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Health & Wellbeing

Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below answers to some FAQs.


For more Smokefree advice and information, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.

It's never too late! Stopping at any age will increase your life expectancy, provided that you stop before you develop cancer or another serious disease.

• Within the first 24 hours your blood pressure and lungs will be showing improvement
• After three months your circulation and breathing should have improved noticeably
• After five years, your risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker
• After ten years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

Being prepared and choosing a Smokefree plan that works for you will create an ideal foundation for giving up smoking.

Determination is key so you need to ensure your levels of willpower are as high as they can be. Take time to make sure that you are physically, mentally and emotionally ready and plan how and when you will give up.

Choose a quit date and commit to it. Think about how to deal with tempting situations like going to the pub, or a stressful day.

You can attend face-to-face meetings and get one-to-one local advice. All our services are FREE and are offered by trained advisors in a confidential setting. We can also refer you to group clinics or for telephone support.

Getting support means you are FOUR times more likely to quit for good than going it alone.

When you go Smokefree your appetite and sense of taste may improve, tempting you to snack more often. Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks, like fruit or nuts, in the house and hide the crisps!

Any weight gain need only be temporary. Once you've stopped smoking, you'll find it easier to be active and lose any extra weight.

From the moment you stop smoking your body starts its recovery process. During this you may find that you experience some nicotine withdrawal and recovery symptoms: You may notice that you still have the urge to smoke, feel a little restless, irritable, frustrated or tired; some people also find that they have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. These are a completely normal part of giving up and will pass.

Remember to try and stay focused on the positive effects of stopping smoking, like the amount of money you will save and the improvements to your health.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy and other stop smoking medicines like Zyban or Champix can really help you manage your cravings. All these medications are available to you on prescription when you use the NHS Stop Smoking Services.

Everyone has their own way of coping with cravings and as time goes on you will find yours. Many people find keeping busy in the early days really helps so try and find other things to do or take up a new hobby. It is important to remember that cravings pass within a matter of minutes and get less intense and less regular the longer you remain Smokefree.

It may seem like a good idea to cut down the number of cigarettes that you smoke or to switch to “lighter” (lower tar) cigarettes, but for most people it is actually a lot easier to just choose a date to quit and stick to it.

Because your mind and body are used to regular doses of nicotine you will ensure that you continue to get similar amounts of nicotine from these fewer, or “lighter”, cigarettes by smoking them more intensely. You may also find that each of the fewer cigarettes becomes a little bit more important to you, making it harder to quit for good.

If you do have a cigarette, you should stop again immediately.

Throw away the rest of the packet and take yourself out of the situation. Go for a walk, drink some water, or take a deep breath. Ask yourself if you really want to be a smoker again.

If you start smoking regularly again, don't worry. You haven't failed. It takes most people four or five attempts before they go Smokefree for good. Take some time to really think about whether you’re serious about quitting and get some advice and support from your local advisor on what to do next.

If you've tried before and it didn't work out don't worry. You haven't failed. Many people take several attempts before they quit for good and every time it doesn’t go to plan you learn something valuable to take into your next attempt.

Next time you quit spend a little longer planning. The preparation you do up front can make all the difference.

It's hard to persuade someone to stop smoking. They really have to decide for themselves that they want to give up, but giving them encouragement and support can help.

Explain to the person that you are worried about their health. Encourage them to visit our website or talk to their doctor about finding a way to quit that works for them.

Smoking causes many serious and fatal diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. It also causes many other cancers, respiratory diseases, strokes and can affect fertility.

Cigarettes contain over 4,500 toxic chemicals and around 60 of these cause cancer.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke. It is also found in car exhaust fumes and is produced by faulty gas appliances. It takes the place of oxygen in the blood, causing your lungs to work less efficiently. This stops cells all around your body from getting the oxygen they need.

Tar is the sticky brown substance which stains your fingers and teeth. Tar causes cancer and damages your lungs. It stays inside your lungs, making tubes narrower and reducing your protection against infection.

Cigarettes contain nicotine, tar and over 4,500 toxic chemicals. Around 60 of these cause cancer. The main toxins are carbon monoxide and tar but other chemicals found in cigarettes are:
Acetone - Nail polish remover
Ammonia - Toilet cleaner
Arsenic - Rat poison
Benzo(a)pyrene - Diesel exhaust fumes
Carbon Monoxide - Petrol exhaust fumes
DDT and Dieldrin - Insecticides
Formaldehyde - Preservative for dead bodies
Hydrogen Cyanide - Poison used in gas chambers
Methanol - Rocket fuel
Titanium - Metal used to make airplanes

No. If you smoke 'light', 'mild' or 'low tar' cigarettes you are likely to inhale as much tar, nicotine and other poisons as those people who smoke regular cigarettes. The use of these misleading descriptions was banned from cigarette packaging in the EU in September 2003.

Secondhand smoke is other people's tobacco smoke. Wherever people smoke, there is secondhand smoke in the air.

Secondhand smoke includes:
Side stream smoke - smoke from the tip of the cigarette.
Main stream smoke - smoke that is breathed back out by the smoker.

Breathing in secondhand smoke can damage almost every organ in the human body. It increases the risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%.

Secondhand smoke is very dangerous for children because their bodies are still developing. Cot death is twice as likely for babies whose mothers smoke. Children who grow up in a smoking household are much more likely to suffer from asthma, middle ear infections, coughs, colds and wheezes.

People exposed to secondhand smoke face the same dangers as smokers themselves. They breathe in the same poisonous gases and toxic chemicals so suffer from the same health risks.

Nicotine products such as patches and gum are often called Nicotine Replacement Therapy, or NRT for short. Nicotine is what your body is craving when you have a cigarette but is not the harmful component of cigarettes.

NRT gives your body small amounts of nicotine without the harmful effects of smoking or chewing tobacco. The idea is that it helps reduce withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, making it easier to quit.

Using a stop smoking medication such as NRT has been shown to DOUBLE your chances of successfully going Smokefree.

There are many options available in addition to nicotine patches and gum, including microtabs (small tablets), lozenges, nasal sprays and inhalators.

You can use two NRT products in combination, for example the patch and inhalator can be used together. Using more than one product is proven to be very effective when used correctly, particularly for people who have strong nicotine cravings or who have found single forms of NRT inadequate in the past.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy is suitable for most people over 12, but you should check with your doctor if you are pregnant, have a heart or circulatory condition, or if you take regular medication.

Most pregnant women can use NRT. It's important to talk it through with your doctor or midwife first. They can help you to weigh up the risks of continuing to smoke against the benefits of stopping using NRT. Using NRT is safer than smoking because it doesn't contain poisons like tar or carbon monoxide.

No. Damage to the health of a smoker is caused by the tar, carbon monoxide, and over 4,500 toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Nicotine Replacement Therapy products help to reduce the nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms without these harmful poisons.

Champix and Zyban are prescription-only tablets that work by reducing your urges to smoke.

You start taking them one or two weeks before you quit and treatment lasts 8-12 weeks. They don’t make quitting effortless and you still need determination not to smoke but they help you manage your cravings.

Both tablets have some side effects and aren’t suitable for everyone and are not available if you’re pregnant or under 18; your advisor can help assess which medication is right for you.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products are available to buy over the counter.

NRT, Champix and Zyban are also available on prescription so you would pay the standard prescription charge for these unless you are exempt from paying prescription charges.

When you use one of the free NHS Stop Smoking Services to support you in your quit attempt you will be able to get stop smoking medications on prescription so going Smokefree does not need to be expensive.

No. Stop smoking medicines are designed to only be taken for a limited amount of time. You gradually reduce your dosage until you stop using the medicine completely. It’s rare for someone to become addicted to stop smoking medicines.

NRT, Champix and Zyban have all been proven to be effective at helping you quit smoking if used correctly. It’s important to choose the one that would suit you best; your advisor can help you make this decision.