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TIMELINE: What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

Posted Wednesday 06 November 2019 11:01 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

Despite a significant drop in the number of smokers since the implementation of the 2007 ban, there are still more than 9 million active smokers in Britain. This equates to around 15% of all UK adults.[1]

A large number of these people are individuals who have smoked for years and are finding it hard to kick the habit, rather than new smokers. As such, smoking among 18 to 24-year-olds has fallen faster than in older age groups.[2]

Finding the motivation to quit can be difficult for existing smokers, which is why it’s important to know exactly how and when your health will improve once you make the decision to quit. We’re going to take a look at the impact stopping smoking can have over time, from 20 minutes to 20 years.

What impact does smoking have on your body?

Smoking has a huge impact on your health. In fact, it is the most common preventable cause of death and disease in the UK, where nearly 80,000 people die every year due to smoking-related causes.[3]

On average, smoking reduces your life expectancy by 10 years, and after the age of 40 every year you continue to smoke cuts your life expectancy by a further three months. Smoking impacts the health of many parts of your body, including your lungs, heart, brain, arteries and senses.

Some of the issues associated with smoking include:

- Cardiovascular disease

- Stroke

- Respiratory disease

- Blood clots

- Fertility issues

- Cancer, including cancer of the bladder, blood, cervix, colon, kidney, larynx, liver, lung, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, tongue, throat and trachea, among others.[4]

Why do we smoke?

There’s a reason why people find it so hard to quit smoking. Inhaling cigarette smoke regularly makes alterations to your brain. This means that, once you quit, your brain has to relearn a way of doing things without relying on regular nicotine hits.

Nicotine alters the balance of two chemicals in the brain: dopamine and noradrenaline. When the levels of these chemicals change, so too do your mood and concentration levels, which smokers often find to be a positive experience.[5]

A nicotine rush produces these pleasurable feelings instantly, and the more you smoke the more your brain becomes used to these nicotine ‘hits’. This creates a vicious cycle, as you then have to smoke more to get the same effect.

What happens when you quit?

The effects of quitting smoking start to appear in as little as 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette. By the time you have stopped smoking for a few weeks or months, you’ll notice significant benefits to your health and wellbeing. Meanwhile, successfully quitting for years can dramatically reduce your risk of serious health concerns.[6]

After 20 minutes: Your pulse rate returns to normal. Blood pressure begins to drop and circulation starts to improve.

After 8 hours: Nicotine levels and carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop by more than half. Oxygen levels also return to normal.[7]

After 48 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated entirely from the body, and your lungs start to clear out mucus. Other debris is also cleared from the lungs. Nicotine has left the body. Your sense of smell and taste will improve.

After 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier and bronchial tubes begin to relax. Energy levels increase. You may also experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms including moodiness, irritability, headaches and cravings. This is the period where most people feel the greatest urge to smoke again.[8]

After 1-3 months: Circulation continues to improve over the first few months after quitting. In as little as a month, your lung function starts to improve and you may notice less coughing and shortness of breath. You might also experience a renewed ability for cardiovascular activities like running and jumping.

After 9 months: By this point, the lungs have healed significantly. Cilia – hair-like structures within the lungs – have recovered and will help push mucus out of the lungs to fight infections.

After 1 year: Your risk of coronary heart disease has dropped to about half of that of a person who is still smoking. This will continue to drop past the one-year point.

After 5 years: The body has healed enough for arteries and blood vessels to widen again. Smoking causes the arteries and blood vessels to narrow, increasing your likelihood of blood clots.[9] Because of this, five years of not smoking can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Over the next 10 years, this risk will drop even lower.

After 10 years: Your risk of developing lung cancer has dropped to that of a non-smoker.[10] Your chances of developing mouth, throat or pancreatic cancer have also been significantly reduced.

After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack is now at the same level as that of a person who has never smoked. Similarly, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is also the same as that of a non-smoker.

After 20 years: After successfully quitting for two decades, your risk of death from smoking-related causes like lung disease and cancer will have dropped to the same rate as a person who has never smoked in their life.

How to quit successfully

Quitting means something different to everyone. For some people, smoking alternatives like vaping offer the best chance of success. In fact, more than three and a half million people in the UK currently use vapes.[11]

For others, nicotine patches help to reduce cravings and improve their chance of quitting, while some people look to support groups and programmes to help keep their willpower in check.

Even simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference when it comes to stopping smoking. Factors like regular exercise, keeping your hands busy, drink and diet changes, making non-smoking friends and maintaining realistic expectations can all help to improve your chances of quitting.[12]

For many people, safe and effective smoking cessation medication is the most effective way to quit smoking for good. Research shows that drug treatment like Champix can improve the success of quitting several fold.[13]

Effective smoking cessation medication like Champix is available here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our online Live Chat service.

[1] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco statistics. 2018

[2] Public Health England. Turning the tide on tobacco: Smoking in England hits a new low. 2018

[3] Bobak, A. PhD. Effects of smoking. Bupa UK. 2018

[4] Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. 2017

[5] NHS UK. Why is smoking addictive? 2018

[6] NHS UK. 10 health benefits of stopping smoking. 2018

[7] NHS UK. Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do. 2017

[8] Cancer Research UK. Smokers underestimate nicotine cravings. 2008

[9] Heart.org. Understand Your Risk for Excessive Blood Clotting. 2019

[10] NHS UK. Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do. 2017

[11] Stubley, P. Vaping ‘linked to 200 health problems in the UK including pneumonia’. The Independent. 2019

[12] NHS UK. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking. 2018

[13] Heydari, G. FallahTafti, S. Quit smoking with Champix: Parallel, randomised clinical trial of efficacy for the first time in Iran. European Respiratory Journal. 2012


Is Vaping a Safe Alternative to Smoking?

Posted Thursday 24 October 2019 12:27 by in Smoking Cessation by Johanna Galyen

October, in the UK, is also known as Stoptober. A nationwide campaign to help stamp out smoking once and for all. Although it has been 12 years since the “ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and workplaces took effect throughout the UK,” says the Centre for Public Impact, smoking is still prevalent. One of the many ways to stop smoking that is suggested is switching to vaping. But is this safe?

Vaping: A Basic Understanding

Cigarettes rely upon the burning cigarette’s smoke to carry nicotine into the lungs. Unfortunately, this smoke also carries carbon monoxide, tar, and many other harmful chemicals. Vaping uses a liquid vapor to carry the nicotine. This vapor is often made out of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, not out of water, as some might think.

In the UK, the amount of nicotine is more highly controlled than in other countries. The milligram levels are restricted to 20 milligrams, which have been reduced from 24. The companies cannot market their products in commercials, and only those ages 18 and over can purchase the products.

The Independent reported an “estimated 3.6 million people in the UK use vapes, according to a survey earlier this year.”

Is Vaping Safe?

This is a tough answer. Vaping is safer than smoking — just as not handling poisonous snakes is safer than playing with them. Some would say that it is 95% safer than smoking. Vaping does not carry the dangerous chemicals that are associated with cancer. But is it 100% safe as compared to never vaping or smoking? No. Stopping smoking and vaping all together is always better than choosing between the two.

Here are some statistics that were reported as of October 1, 2019, in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control.

  • As of October 8, 2019, 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory.
  • Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.
  • All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

Experts are cautioning doctors in the UK that e-cigarette deaths and illnesses are not just an American problem. There are “200 adverse reactions listed in the UK Yellow Card reports include major health problems such as cardiac arrest, epilepsy and spontaneous abortion, they also include coughs, sneezing and headaches” says The Independent. While there are stronger regulations in the UK, it is only a matter of time until people there start improperly using e-cigarettes and mixing in other ingredients like THC. This may be a world-wide issue unless strongly confronted.

Making Stoptober a Landmark in Your Life

Instead of switching from cigarettes to vaping pen, try stopping smoking all together. For the first time in years or even decades, be free of the need to smoke something. Champix is a prescription-based medication that alleviates cravings without reliance on Nicotine.

Studies have found that those taking Champix (varenicline) were the most successful in quitting smoking than those trying other tobacco dependence methods such as the patch or gum.

Knowing the difference between confusing scientific studies and real pharmacological benefits is important for your health. In some situations, you may need additional support, treatment, and medication. Discover medications for smoking cessation like Champix here at Express Pharmacy. We can help you gain access to effective treatment swiftly and discreetly.

Contact us today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online Live Chat service.


From Myths to Medicine: How Our Understanding of Smoking Has Changed Throughout History

Posted Monday 21 October 2019 08:43 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

smoking myths

In the UK, 16.5% of men and 13% of women still smoke.[1] This may sound like a lot – and it is – but this is still a significant drop on the number of smokers documented 10 years ago. In fact, both cigarette smoking prevalence and the average number of cigarettes smoked by smokers per day have been decreasing since the 1970s.[2]

This is largely due to the increase in the scientific information available regarding tobacco. But our understanding of its risks hasn’t always been so strong.

Smoking has been the subject of much misinformation

People have smoked tobacco and other substances since ancient times. All over the Americas and across Indigenous peoples, tobacco was used in rituals and as a pastime as early as 5000 BC.[3]

By the 1700s, smoking had become a widespread habit throughout the western world. In the early- to mid-20th century, the popularity of smoking grew even more as misinformation about cigarettes became widespread, thanks in large to the boom in advertising. In the mid- and late-20th century however, particularly after World War II, people began to understand that there were serious health repercussions involved in smoking tobacco.[4]

Some of the wildest myths about smoking that people believed in the past include that it could relieve headaches and that it could ward off diseases. Some past health experts even believed tobacco could be used as an anaesthetic!

Today, there is no hiding from the damage smoking can cause

Today, most of us know that smoking is bad for us. Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death in the world.[5] Around three in 20, or 15%, of cancer cases in the UK are caused by tobacco.[6] This makes smoking the largest cause of cancer in the UK.

Smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer: lung, larynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, nasopharynx, bladder, pharynx, kidney, pancreas, stomach, liver, cervix, bowel, ovarian cancers and leukaemia.[7] It can also be a causal factor in early onset menopause, impotence, poor olfactory function and lower life expectancy.[8]

These kind of statistics and findings have clarified our understanding of the dangers of smoking. As such, our attitudes towards the habit are changing. The NHS reports that there has been a general decline in positive attitudes towards smoking, particularly among young people.[9] Since the 2007 smoking ban, attitudes and behaviours have changed even more dramatically.

Quitting for good requires perseverance and support

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of succeeding in your attempt to quit. These include:

  • Being realistic but positive in your expectations
  • Doing regular exercise
  • Making non-smoking friends
  • Finding ways to keep your hands busy
  • Identifying what triggers your cravings
  • Making changes to your diet and drink habits[10]

Some people benefit from quitting as part of a group, or seeking support via apps or family members. Others use safe and effective medication to improve their chances of success.

Are you trying to give up smoking for good this Stoptober? You’ll find safe and effective smoking cessation medication like Champix right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with our experts today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat system.

[1] Office of National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK. 2018

[2] Office of National Statistics. Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. 2013

[3] Gately, I. Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization. 2007

[4] Cancer Council. A brief history of smoking. 2010

[5] World Lung Foundation. The Tobacco Atlas. 2018

[6] Brown, KF., et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Island, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer. 2016

[7] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco Statistics. 2018

[8] Action on Smoking and Health. Facts at a glance — key smoking statistics. 2018

[9] NHS Digital. Statistics on Smoking, England. 2019

[10] NHS UK. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking. 2018


How Did the Smoking Ban Change Our Relationship With Cigarettes?

Posted Friday 04 October 2019 09:25 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

Smoking can have a serious impact on the health of your heart, brain, circulation, stomach, mouth, skin and lungs. When you some, you increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and reproductive issues.[1]

But with the arrival of October comes the effort of many to give up smoking for a whole 28 days. The UK’s history of smoking has had a lot of ups and downs, but undoubtedly one of the most significant moments was the implementation of the smoking ban.

Back in 2006, parliament voted to outlaw smoking in all workplaces, on public transport, in pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants and in shopping centres in England and Wales. The ban came into force in Scotland in March 2006, with Wales following suit in April. The ban came into effect in Northern Ireland on 30th April. England put the smoking ban into action on 1st July 2007.[2]

The impact of the smoking ban, in numbers

The 2007 smoking ban transformed the UK forever. From our social habits and attitudes to our overall health, things have certainly changed in the time since the ban’s introduction:

Changes were implemented quickly and businesses were very complaint. In the first 18 months, councils inspected 590,155 premises. Of these, 98.2% obeyed.[3]

Smoking rates have fallen significantly since the ban. Back in 1974, almost half the UK population were smokers. By 2007, just over a fifth of the population smoked. By 2016, fewer than 17% of people smoked.[4]

Fewer young people now smoke. In 2001, 18% of 11-16 year olds smoked. By 2014, around 5% smoked.[5]

Many people attribute their lack of smoking directly to the ban. YouGov reports that 14% of ex-smokers say the ban helped them quit, while 20% of current smokers say the ban helped them cut down.[6]

Bar workers showed immediate signs of improved health flowing the ban. In 2007, before the ban, more than 65% of bar workers reported respiratory concerns. In 2008, just one year later, this number had fallen to less than 40%.[7]

There is still work to do when it comes to smoking

Despite these positive changes, our fight against the dangers of smoking is far from over. Smoking is still the largest cause of cancer in the UK, and 15% of UK adults still smoke.[8] What’s more, tobacco remains the largest preventable cause of death in the world. [9] In 2015 alone, almost a fifth (19%) of all deaths from all causes in the UK were caused by smoking.[10]

Second-hand smoke is still an issue too, as an estimated 11,000 deaths occur in the UK each year as a result of second-hand smoke.[11] There is also still a clear rich and poor divide when it comes to smoking, as people from low-income households are much more likely to smoke. 19% of people with an income under £10,000 smoke, while only 10.7% of those with incomes over £40,000 smoke.[12]

Medication can help you quit this October

That’s why it’s encouraging that thousands of people every year take part in the Stoptober effort. If you’re hoping to cut down on your cigarette use this October, you can use tried and tested medication to help you find success.

Clinical trials of medications like Champix have proven just how effective they can be in smoking cessation. One study found that almost three quarters of participants using Champix successfully abstained from smoking for 52 weeks, compared to less than half of those using a placebo.[13]

You can find safe and effective smoking cessation medication like Champix right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. How smoking affects your body. 2015

[2] Politics UK. Smoking Ban. 2019

[3] Local Government Association. A breath of fresh air: smoke-free workplaces 10 years on. 2017

[4] Office of National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in Great Britain. 2017.

[5] NHS Digital. Statistics on Smoking, England. 2019

[6] Action on Smoking and Health. England a decade after the smoking ban – heading for a smoke-free future. 2017

[7] Triggle, N. Pub smoking ban: 10 charts that show the impact. BBC. 2017

[8] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco Statistics. 2018

[9] World Lung Foundation. The Tobacco Atlas. 2018

[10] Peto, R., Lopez, A., Boreham, J. et al. Mortality from smoking in developed countries 1950-2020. 2015

[11] Jamrozik, K. Estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking among UK adults: database analysis. British Medical Journal. 2005

[12] Office of National Statistics. Likelihood of smoking four times higher in England’s most deprived areas than least deprived. 2018

[13] Ebbert, J. et al. Varenicline for smoking cessation: efficacy, safety, and treatment recommendations. Patient Preference and Adherence. 2010


How to Master Stoptober

Posted Monday 01 October 2018 09:45 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

For many people, October marks the start of a determined bid to quit smoking once and for all. Here’s how to succeed.

Smoking accounts for more than 8,000 deaths a year in England alone, so making the decision to quit is certainly the first step on the path to a healthier lifestyle. And now that October has rolled around again, more and more people will be making this decision thanks to Stoptober.

What is Stoptober?

Running throughout the month of October, the Stoptober campaign was first launched in 2012 by Public Health England, and millions of people have taken part every year since. The premise for the campaign is that, by abstaining from smoking for 28 days, individuals are five times more likely to quit smoking for good.

To date, Stoptober has driven over 1 million attempts to quit smoking, making it the biggest mass quit attempt in the country. So if you are trying to stop smoking, now is the perfect time to do it.

What support does it offer?

Stoptober offers a huge amount of materials and support which partakers can take advantage of, helping them feel as though they aren’t suffering the quitting process alone. The Stoptober app allows you to track your progress, see how much you are saving and get support.

Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult, but Stoptober offers a wide range of quitting tactics, including:

  • E-cigarettes: a great way to avoid the effects of inhaling tar. While research into E-cigarettes is still in its infancy, it is believed that vaping carries just a fraction of the health risks that cigarettes do.
  • Face to face support: free advice from experts. This allows you to stay on track with support and encouragement.
  • Social media: Stoptober has a strong social media community behind it, and their Facebook page gives you the opportunity to chat with others and share your progress or tips.
  • Daily support: A daily email throughout your journey will provide you with advice and tips for staying focused on your goal.

Why quit smoking?

The main reason to quit smoking is, of course, to improve your health. Smoking significantly increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and many fatal forms of cancer. (You can read more about the dangers of smoking here.) However, the good news is that no matter how long you’ve smoked for, quitting can help to improve your health immediately.

Quitting smoking improves not only your health, but the health of those around you. By reducing the amount of second-hand smoke your loved ones are inhaling, you will reduce their risk of developing asthma, meningitis and cancer.

You’ll also save money when you quit. If you currently smoke a packet a day costing roughly £10, taking part in Stoptober could save you as much as £300!

Can medication help?

Yes, it can. Champix is clinically proven to be the most effective prescription treatment for stopping smoking, and it has the highest success rates when compared to other medications. In fact, clinical studies have found that Champix users were twice as likely to give up smoking than those who used no medication.

NHS trials found that 45% of people had successfully quit smoking completely after using Champix for 12 weeks, compared to just 11% of people using a placebo effect. The benefits of Champix include:

  • Reduced feelings of anxiety, stress and irritability
  • Significant reduction in nicotine cravings
  • Reduced rates of insomnia
  • Fewer headaches
  • Gradual elimination of nicotine reliance

By using Champix alongside some of the methods outlined above by the Stoptober campaign, you can increase your chances of quitting smoking this October even further.

Champix is available from Express Pharmacy. If you have any further queries about stopping smoking, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today. Call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.