Just six weeks – that’s all it can take for quitting smoking to boost your mood and mental health, according to research published in time for this week’s No Smoking Day.
As the country continues to recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub and NHS Lanarkshire‘s Health Improvement Team are calling on smokers to give quitting smoking another go.
It comes as a major review from anti-smoking groups reassures smokers who want to stop smoking that quitting for at least six weeks may improve their mental wellbeing by reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. People’s social relationships are unlikely to suffer if they stop smoking.
The review found that people who stopped for at least six weeks experienced less depression, anxiety, and stress than people who continued to smoke. People who quit also experienced more positive feelings and better psychological wellbeing.
Reductions in anxiety and depression in those who quit smoking are found to be at least as great as from taking anti-depressants.
Smoking is clearly not helping smokers to feel better, with Public Health Scotland publishing data showing smokers have poorer mental wellbeing than non-smokers. This found smokers scored worse than the general population on every mental wellbeing indicator. In fact, nearly half (43%) of smokers were found to have high anxiety.
Indeed, smoking is the world’s leading cause of preventable illness and death. One in every two people who smoke will die of a smoking-related disease unless they quit.
Saving money can also ease stress – someone smoking 10 a day is likely to be spending around £144 per month on tobacco – which means a saving of around £430 for summer trips out by the time June comes around. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“This is the clear evidence yet about the benefits of quitting smoking to relieve stress, anxiety and mental health. People with mental health conditions die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population, and smoking is the biggest cause of this life expectancy gap.
“Many smokers believe tobacco helps them with stress, but now we know that if you can quit for just six weeks, you can start to see an improvement not just in your physical health but feeling less stressed and anxious. Your best chance is if you get the right quitting aids and support to ease the cravings.
“Making the decision to stop smoking can be very daunting. No Smoking Day is the ideal opportunity for people to make that first step and it’s really important that people know there’s a lot of support out there to help them quit for good.
“Not only does stopping smoking improve your health but it helps protect others from the dangers of second-hand smoke and it also saves you money. We would like to encourage people to give it a go, stay positive and believe they can stop smoking for good.” Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of Mental Health Foundation, concurred:
“There is a mental health crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and we need to find many new ways of addressing this.
“Getting people to stop smoking can play a role in getting the mental health of the nation back on track. We’re pleased to be supporting the call for smokers to start their next quit attempt on No Smoking Day.”
NO SMOKING DAY 2022: THE PERFECT TIME TO KICK THE HABIT
Despite progress made in recent years, smoking is still a significant factor in society, with 28% of men and 25% of women in Scotland being smokers. Smoking remains one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, with more than 13,000 people in Scotland dying each year from tobacco use.
Smoking levels remains higher than desired across the Lanarkshire area, with instances of coronary heart disease and COPD a particular problem in the Cumbernauld area.
No Smoking Day, an annual health campaign across the UK which aims to raise awareness of support to help smokers who want to quit cigarettes, takes place on Wednesday 9 March 2022. The initiative is organised by British Heart Foundation and also provides an opportunity to celebrate those who have kicked the habit in the past.
The significant health risks of smoking include increased risk many forms of cancer, most notably lung cancer of which smoking is the cause in 70% of cases. Those who smoke are also at a much higher risk of developing cancer in their mouth, throat, bladder and liver, among other parts of the body.
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation and also increases your risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, dementia, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).
Importantly, smoking doesn’t just affect the health of the smoker; it can also have the same negative effects on those breathing in the second-hand smoke. This is known as passive smoking, which is especially harmful for children as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
If you smoke, quitting is the single most important step you can take to protect the health of your heart. Even if you’ve smoked for years, quitting will still reduce your risk of heart and circulatory diseases. It’s never too late to quit.
Whether you are a smoker who is hoping to quit, or you know someone who is thinking about kicking the habit, it’s important to remember that No Smoking Day is not an opportunity to force your opinions on others.
Instead, No Smoking Day should be a day to recognise the health and lifestyle benefits that quitting smoking offers, and provide encouragement and support to the people who need it most.
Cornerstone House Centre is a campaigner for a smoke-free Lanarkshire, with Cumbernauld Family Hub actively involved in supporting implementation of Lanarkshire Tobacco Control Strategy 2018-23 by including a special anti-tobacco focus and education within its delivery of Let’s Play With Bookbug for local parents and children.
The Tobacco Control Strategy looks to the future, with a focus on tackling inequalities and putting children firmly at its centre. The vision is to create a society which is smoke-free and where adults are positive anti-tobacco role models, whether they smoke or not.
Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is eager to highlight the fact that there’s plenty of help out there for those who wish to stop but are yet to take the first step.
Those who use stop smoking aids and get support from their local stop smoking services are up to four times more likely to quit successfully.
Quit Your Way Scotland, a free NHS national helpline for anyone trying to stop smoking, can be contacted by telephoning 0800 84 84 84 or via NHS inform. Lanarkshire Quit Your Way is also facilitating a valuable provision during the coronavirus outbreak.
Further advice and information on smoking cessation can be gathered through visiting the Quit With Help website at www.quitwithhelp.co.uk.
If you are an ex-smoker from Greater Cumbernauld who has a story that can help and inspire others to quit, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub would love to hear from you. Please contact us via email at email@example.com if you would like to share your story with a view to helping others.
If you’re looking for an alternative habit that is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, consider vaping. It’s better on your lungs and will help prevent the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke, including asthma, shortness of breath (even with moderate exercise), and lung infections like bronchitis.
Bad habits can be hard to break, but with a bit of perseverance and these helpful tips, you can do it! Replace them with healthy ones that will make you feel better in the long run. Don’t forget to keep track of your progress, so you stay motivated along the way.