Stop smoking and improve your looks

Madonna (left) and Christina Aguilera

What do Madonna and Christina Aguilera have in common?

They both hate smoking.

About 21% of Brits aged over 16 are smokers. And of those aged 20 to 24, an estimated 28% smoke. That means that kissing a quarter of the population of Britain may feel like kissing an ashtray. It’s not just your breath that smells. Smoking dulls the skin, causes wrinkles around the mouth and makes you look older.

Now that you can't smoke in enclosed public places, it's even easier to stop smoking. You’ll be healthier, have more money, your clothes and breath won’t smell, you’ll look better and you’ll probably live longer.

It is estimated that every year in England, nearly one in five deaths in adults aged 35 and over is caused by smoking. According to doctors, there’s hardly any part of your body that isn’t damaged by smoking. But if you stop now, your risk of many diseases will begin to decline.

Half the risk of a heart attack

So what happens to your body when you quit? Within a year of stopping, the risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of someone who continues to smoke. Within 10 years of stopping, the risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker.

Even if you don’t give up smoking for yourself, you could do it for your family and friends. Non-smokers who breathe in second-hand smoke inhale more than 4,000 chemicals, at least 50 of which cause cancer. For non-smokers, breathing other people’s smoke means an increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Some people try cutting down rather than giving up entirely, but this is harder to do than it sounds. Nicotine can be addictive, and for some people it’s difficult to stop completely. But that’s the only way to quit.

Top tips for quitting

  • Contact your local NHS stop-smoking services for help.
  • Plan ahead to help you cope with stressful situations.
  • Pick a quit date that will be stress-free and stick to it.
  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Pair up with someone else who wants to stop so you can support each other.
  • Avoid situations where you might be tempted to smoke.
  • Keep track of the money you’re saving and treat yourself.
  • Remember, there's no such thing as having just one cigarette.

Page last reviewed: 20/01/2014

Next review due: 20/01/2016


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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

FiFi_Gal said on 16 January 2011

The article is no way shows how smoking damages sex appeal. It only mentions health concerns of smoking. Smoking has often been seen as a way of showing sex appeal. Any health message should be in the context of health and not trying to falsely link smoking to something not seen as glamorous or sexy by so many people. Where is the evidence that not smoking improves sex appeal? There is none - it can only be said that some people find non-smoking more attractive. However many people find smoking sexy and flirtatious. The NHS choices website should present facts not propaganda.

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Rita said on 29 June 2008

I have become very concerned over the last few weeks of the effects of cancer and your teeth, and from what i've seen and read on the internet i have given up smoking. Not that i smoked that much anyway. it has only been 4 days but i went out on friday night and didn't have one cigarette. Everytime i crave for one i remind myself of the pictures and what other people who developed cancer has had to go through and this stops me from having one. We must all try & stop. Plus its really expensive now.

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da smoker said on 16 June 2008

hmmmm, i suppose, but its not that easy to acually stop, especialy when your totally addicted!

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Pedro Rodrigues said on 13 June 2008

It's true! I can stop smoking, and will be forever! :)

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samantha said on 29 May 2008

No matter how far you are into quitting, having just one cigarette puts you right back at the start line.

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