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    The risks of smoking

    On this page
    1. Smoking related deaths
    2. Other risks of smoking
    3. Never too late to quit

    Reviewed by Dr Bhavini Shah

    Smoking is the single most important preventable cause of death and illness in the UK. It causes the premature death of 64,000 people in England every year. After the age of 35 years, a person loses 3 months of their life expectancy for every year of continued smoking. 

    Smoking related deaths

    Cancers, heart attacks, strokes and lung disease are the most common causes of death. 25% (1 in 4) of all cancers are due to smoking.

    Lung, tongue, throat, tonsil, oesophagus, bladder, kidney and stomach cancers are all more common in smokers. And don’t forget, that non-smokers who breathe in second-hand smoke also have a higher risk of all the same illnesses as smokers. 

    Other risks of smoking

    Smoking also raises the risk of osteoporosis (thin bones), erectile dysfunction and infertility. Heavy smokers are 6 times more likely than non-smokers to have a stroke. Passive smoking is estimated to cause around 11,000 deaths in the UK every year.  

    Never too late to quit

    Whatever your age or length of time smoking, giving up will produce a measurable benefit. If you are lucky and you manage to stop before:

    • You are 35 your risk of developing any smoking related illness is very low

    • You are 50 then your risk of dying from a smoking-related disease is reduced by 50%

    Benefits of stopping smoking

    There are quicker benefits too; it only takes 24 hours of not smoking for carbon monoxide to be removed from the body, and within three days all nicotine will be gone and breathing should become easier.

    In two months, your circulation will be improving, and by one year your risk of having a heart attack is cut in half. After ten years of being an ex-smoker, your risk of cancer is half that of a smoker. 


    Now you’ve learnt the risks associated with smoking and how these decrease once you stop smoking. What’s stopping you from quitting? Visit our stop smoking clinic for more information and prescription treatments like cytisine or varenicline to help you quit smoking for good. 


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