Giving up smoking

Smoking related diseases

Everyone we spoke to knew that smoking had health risks. Smoking increases the risk of over 50 serious health conditions and is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. Research in the early 1950s by Richard Doll and colleagues showed a clear link between smoking and lung cancer. Although smoking causes 85% of lung cancers (NHS Choices 2015), smoking is also associated with other cancers, including cancer of the mouth, larynx (voice box), oesophagus (gullet) and bladder. Smoking can also harm the heart and blood vessels, something that some people we spoke to seemed to know less about. 

Some people were prompted to give up when a family member or friend contracted a smoking related disease.

Those who were diagnosed with a smoking related disease such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or a pulmonary embolism or who had a TIA (transient ischaemic attack or ‘mini stroke’) were sharply reminded of the negative effects of smoking. Rukmini had a history of health problems in her family such as heart problems and diabetes and felt that smoking increased her risk.

We talked to people who had resolved to stop smoking after being diagnosed with a heart condition, COPD (which includes chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or as they learnt about the relationship between their smoking and worsening control of long-standing health problem such as asthma or diabetes.
Roger was diagnosed with COPD and that prompted him to give up smoking. Some people weren’t sure whether smoking had directly caused their health problems, but they wanted to give it up to improve their physical health.

People who gave up smoking often noticed fairly soon that their health had improved. Even those who had smoked for many years and had developed serious health problems noticed that their health improved.

(Also see ‘Life events and their effect on people’s motivation to stop smoking’, ‘Being a non-smoker’ and ‘Effects of not smoking’).

​Last reviewed August 2018.
Last updated August 2018.


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