Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to live longer and it greatly reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Quitting smoking, why and how?
Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. One in every two smokers will die of a tobacco-related disease.
Once you stop smoking, your mental and physical health improves immediately. After one year, your risk of having a heart attack is cut to half that of a smoker. A smoker is twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as a non-smoker. Which would you rather be? Make a plan today and you’ll be a happy non-smoker in no time.
For expert help: freephone the National Smokers’ Quitline on 1800 201 203 or visit www.quit.ie.
There are 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette. 60 of the chemicals are known to cause cancer and include insecticide, car battery fluid, arsenic poison and hydrogen cyanide.
Cigarettes also produce tar – a sticky brown substance that forms when tobacco cools. This collects in your lungs and can also cause cancer. Next time you smoke, think about these chemicals and start planning to quit. Not tomorrow, today.
Passive smoking is breathing in other people’s smoke. Children and older people are most at risk from exposure to passive smoking.
Passive smoking can cause heart disease, stroke, cancers, asthma in children, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and middle ear infections.
If you are not ready to quit smoking, please make your car and home smoke-free to protect others around you, especially children.
Smoking hurts your heart and your family’s
Not only does smoking hurt your heart physically, it also breaks the heart of your friends and family. So if not for your own heart, please consider stopping for theirs.
Start by preparing to quit smoking.
You will need willpower to quit smoking but it will feel good to no longer be controlled (or bullied) by cigarettes.
Remind yourself that you can do it. Everyone can. You just need to know how.
It’s never too late to quit smoking. The benefits happen immediately:
There are, of course, infinitely more benefits including increased energy, plus you will be free from the worry that you are damaging your health, and that of your family and friends.
1. Change your routine: if you’re used to a cigarette after a meal, try chewing some sugar-free chewing gum or go out for a walk and some fresh air.
2. Reduce your caffeine and alcohol: when you stop smoking caffeine and alcohol will affect you more than when you were a smoker.
3. Learn to deal with cravings: some people experience recovery (aka withdrawal) symptoms when they quit smoking. These symptoms are a positive sign because your body is getting rid of the toxins and poisons from smoking.
They can range from: feeling hungry, coughing and bringing up phlegm, tingling in your fingers and toes, feeling dizzy, lack of concentration and mouth ulcers. The majority of these pass within 4 weeks.
If you experience cravings, remember that they only last for a few minutes and use the 4Ds to beat them:
4. Get regular exercise
Now that you have quit, getting more active will help you deal with your cravings. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes five days a week.
5. Make your home and car smoke-free
6. Choose healthy snacks: some people find they eat more when they quit. Try to snack only when you are hungry and choose healthy snacks such as fruit, natural yoghurt or plain popcorn.
7. Avoid substituting cigarettes for sweets, cakes and biscuits. Eating three meals a day is good for your health and eating breakfast has been shown to help with quitting smoking.
Some people find NRT helps them to cope with cravings. NRT can increase the chances of success for smokers who are ready to quit. NRT replaces some of the nicotine that you previously got from smoking, but at lower levels. The most common type of NRT are patches, lozenges, gum, inhalers and tablets (microtabs).
If you are using NRT but still experience cravings this may mean that you are not getting enough nicotine. Combining more than one type of NRT has been shown to be beneficial. For more information, freephone our Heart and Stroke Helpline or the National Smokers’ Quitline 1800 201 203, or ask your pharmacist or doctor.
Your pharmacist can advise you on NRT products. Always read the instructions and use as directed. If you are pregnant you should speak to your doctor before taking any NRT. Champix and Zyban are medications that can help some people to quit smoking. These medications are only available on prescription. Talk to your GP about these medications.
Light or low-tar cigarettes or cigars are not an alternative to quitting smoking. Smokers who switch to light or low-tar cigarette brands breathe in more deeply and do not reduce their risk.
Cigars contain high levels of carbon monoxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry, so they increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Evidence is not yet available to show if using an e-cigarette as a quit smoking method is effective or has side effects.
Our guides on how to maintain a healthy & happy heart.