After 20 minutes from your last cigarette, your pulse rate will have started returning to normal.
This month marks the 11th year of Stoptober, a campaign created to encourage and help people to quit smoking. Evidence suggests people are 5 times more likely to stop smoking permanently if they can make it to 28 days without smoking. Stoptober calls for smokers to lean on each other and campaign resources to help curb the craving. Many of us know that smoking is not a good idea. We all know it is incredibly damaging to our health, yet many smokers continue to smoke, knowing the risks. Some smoke and wish they never picked up a cigarette in the first place. Some smokers have tried to quit before and seem to return to smoking time and time again. Being able to quit smoking for good takes courage and commitment. It is breaking an addiction, a routine, for our own sake and the sake of our friends and families.
After 8 hours from your last cigarette, your oxygen levels are recovering, and the carbon monoxide levels in your blood have halved.
Our health should be the number one factor for wanting to quit smoking. In the way we would want our parents, siblings, and children to live a long and healthy life, we should also want that for ourselves. Smoking harms our health, affecting all aspects of our bodies, not just our lungs. The NHS has reported that 35% of all deaths from respiratory conditions are because of smoking. Smoking costs our underfunded NHS £2.4 billion a year. The effects smoking can have on your health include but are not limited to the following:
-A higher risk of developing respiratory infections, e.g. flu, pneumonia, and Covid-19
-Smoking can cause heart attacks and strokes and has been found to cause at least 15 types of cancer
-Premature skin ageing
-Increased risk of impotence and infertility
-On average, smokers live 10 years less than non-smokers
After 48 hours from your last cigarette, all the carbon monoxide has left your blood. Mucus is leaving your lungs, and your sense of smell and taste begins to improve.
Those that smoke are reminded of the impacts on their health constantly, with legislation changing in 2021 making it mandatory that the health warnings on cigarette packaging must take up 50% of the front and rear panels of packaging. There are reminders that smoking causes cancer and that second-hand smoke harms children. Through this consistent bombardment of health warnings, perhaps the message is being lost, and we are becoming desensitised to the harm smoking has. It is through campaigns like Stoptober, ones that do not shame smoking and tackle smoking with care and concern rather than a condescending tone.
After 72 hours from your last cigarette, you may find breathing easier and your energy levels increasing.
Stoptober provides information and resources to help those through the journey that is quitting smoking. Many of us forget it is an addiction; it is extremely difficult for those to curb the craving for a cigarette. The Stoptober campaign recognises this and gives tips and tricks to help you through the month:
-Visit your GP. Your GP has the information and ability to give you prescribed medication to help you quit smoking and discuss the methods that are right for you. They are there to help you to stop and will do whatever they can to help.
-Pick a date to stop and cement this date. Tell yourself you are a non-smoker from that day and tell your friends, family, and colleagues the date you have decided.
-Ask your friends, families, and colleagues for support. This may come in all sorts of ways. It could be asking those who smoke if they could not smoke in front of you; it could be as little as giving them a call when you are craving a cigarette to pass the time and distract you.
After 2 to 12 weeks since your last cigarette, your circulation would have improved, meaning blood is pumping to your heart easier.
-A craving lasts about 5 minutes before it begins to subside; try and think of strategies for these periods. Try calling a friend, putting on a timer, taking a quick walk, or watching a short video on your phone. Finding tasks to help you pass this time and having strategies ready will benefit your quitting experience.
-Make a list of why you have decided to stop smoking. Perhaps have it on your phone as a reminder when you feel like you are struggling. Put on every driving force that has led you to this decision.
-Reward yourself when you are doing well. Celebrate little milestones like one day, one week, and one month. Buy yourself something with the money you would’ve spent on cigarettes during that time.
After 3 to 9 months since your last cigarette, your lung function would have increased up to 10%.
Click here for more information and resources on quitting smoking this Stoptober.