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Smoking Cessation

Why a Life Without Cigarettes Is a Happier One

Posted Friday 12 March 2021 06:00 by Harman Bhamra in Smoking Cessation

The benefits of quitting cigarettes can often be felt within just days of giving up smoking, and over time the body repairs itself even further. Within months of giving up smoking, your body begins to improve in terms of heart and lung health, and while results can vary from person to person, life without cigarettes starts to become a happier one. In light of No Smoking Day, read on to discover the benefits that come from quitting the habit for good.

Understanding the signs of addiction

You may not realise that you have an addiction to cigarettes, as the symptoms of a nicotine addiction can often be overlooked. But if you’ve made several attempts to stop and have been unable to quit, you could be addicted. You may experience withdrawal symptoms such as strong cravings, frustration and anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, increased hunger levels and insomnia. If you consider smoking even when you have health problems, such as issues with your heart or your lungs, and if you give up on social activities in favour of smoking, such as avoiding going out because you can’t smoke at the venue, these are also signs of nicotine addiction.

Five benefits of giving up smoking

1. Cardiovascular health

When you choose to stop smoking, you experience a host of benefits that can make life a happier one. For one, your cardiovascular health improves considerably with each passing week.

Your whole body will benefit from better circulation and blood flow. Not only does this enable your organs to work more effectively but it also improves the quality and appearance of your skin, providing greater elasticity and a rosy glow to your face.

Did you know: In as little as 20 minutes after quitting cigarettes, your blood pressure and heart rate improve, and your risk of a heart attack drops even within hours of giving up smoking.

2. Improved sense of smell and taste

A common positive benefit to quitting smoking is that your sense of smell and taste improves. In fact, after just 48 hours of quitting, you’ll notice that you can smell and taste things more effectively – the taste buds and nerve receptors in the tongue and nose begin to improve and you’ll be able to experience flavours and aromas far more significantly.

3. Heightened lung function

Everyday tasks like picking up shopping, climbing the stairs or playing with your kids will feel easier when you quit smoking. Smoking flattens the cilia in the lungs, which are small structures in the lungs that remove pollutants and toxins from the air you breathe in – giving up cigarettes enables them to regrow and function properly.

Did you know: Your lung function can improve by as much as 30% just two weeks after quitting smoking.

4. Fertility

Smoking can hinder a number of bodily functions, and fertility is one aspect of the body that suffers as a result of nicotine addiction, particularly for women. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth, as well as making it more difficult to conceive. But just three months after quitting, you may experience improvements to fertility and in some cases, conception rates can improve within a year of giving up cigarettes.

5. Clearer mental state

Many people who give up smoking long-term note that their mood improved as a result. One of the reasons for this is that smoking can actually cause tension and anxiety, which dissipates when you remove smoking from your life. In fact, studies suggest that people with mental health problems are likely to feel considerably calmer and more positive by giving up smoking, with the impact as beneficial as antidepressants when it comes to the effect on anxiety and depression.

What can you take from this?

Life without cigarettes is a happier one for many people because of the impact giving up has on your mental health, helping you to focus more clearly and live your life in a healthier way. Without cigarettes, you can lead a more active life, develop a healthier appearance and reduce your risk of developing health problems and diseases. People who smoke worry that life will be worse without cigarettes, as they enjoy the habit of smoking and believe that it helps them to manage stress. But the opposite is true – in reality, when people give up smoking, they notice that their life improves and that they feel better about themselves.

There are many ways to quit smoking, but most people stop the habit for good with help from stop smoking tablets.

Champix is a popular prescription medication for quitting smoking that alleviates cravings without reliance on nicotine. Because of this, Champix is a popular choice for those seeking stop smoking medication.

What Causes a Smoking Addiction?

Posted Sunday 04 October 2020 11:00 by Harman Bhamra in Smoking Cessation

People addicted to smoking often find it hard to quit the habit for good. In this article, we are going to explore the main causes of smoking addictions and provide ways on how to spot and prevent them before it’s too late.

When do people start smoking?

Most smoking addictions start out of curiosity — particularly during teenage years. Studies show that those who have friends or family members who smoke are more likely to smoke than those who have a non-smoking circle.

Those who start smoking will eventually become addicted to nicotine — a very addictive drug found in cigarettes. According to studies, 90% of adult smokers started before they were 18 years old. This means that 75% of high school smokers will become addicted to smoking when they turn to adulthood. 25% of these adult smokers are at risk of dying from tobacco-related diseases.

Defining addiction

Addiction is compulsory dependence on a product despite its harmful consequences. Addiction is mental and emotional. Smoking addicts are hooked to nicotine which is known to be as addictive and destructive as cocaine.

What are the symptoms of nicotine addiction?

On average, a regular cigarette contains between 1 to 2 mg of nicotine. The amount of nicotine you take in will depend on several factors (e.g. how deep you inhale, number of puffs, etc.). Below, we list down some of the common symptoms of a nicotine addiction so you’ll know when your smoking habit is getting out of hand:

You can’t stop - one of the surefire signs of nicotine dependence is your inability to stop despite trying many times before.

You experience withdrawal symptoms - nicotine withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to another. Some of the common ones include:

  • Strong cravings
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased hunger
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling sad
  • Inability to focus or concentrate

You continue your smoking habit despite health warnings - another sign of a smoking addiction is choosing to ignore the health warnings because you can’t stop.

Your smoking affects your quality of life - some heavy smokers stop socialising with friends and families because the situation doesn’t allow them to smoke.

How nicotine “hooks” you

Nicotine from tobacco enters your bloodstream through your lungs. From there, it travels to the brain, flooding its reward circuits with a chemical known as dopamine (e.g: the happy hormone). This explains the high that smokers feel whenever they smoke.

The problem is that the effects of nicotine wear off after a few minutes, causing the smoker to long for the feeling again. This leads to a vicious cycle of smoking so that the ‘high’ can be felt again.

Your body tends to adapt to the amount of nicotine in your bloodstream. As your tolerance increases, the number of cigarettes you need to smoke in order to get the same high will also increase — leading to a full-blown addiction.

Know your smoking triggers

Smoking is often connected to your emotions and other habits. For example, common patterns that lead to smoking include:

  • Drinking coffee
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Spending time with friends who smoke

The best way to deal with these triggers is to be mindful. Identify which of these triggers affect you and make a plan on how to deal with them. Knowing and then dealing with these smoking triggers is one of the first steps to successfully stop smoking.

On the emotional side, some people smoke because it’s their way of coping up with stress and PTSD. Aside from getting support from your loved ones, counselling is also a great way to deal with emotional stress.

When to get help

There are many ways to stop smoking. And you are not alone on this journey. The majority of smokers make several attempts to quit before committing fully.

The best way to stop smoking is by experimenting with various methods. From medication to nicotine patches, there are so many resources to help you.

Doctors and counsellors can even give you a structured treatment plan that addresses the physical, social, and emotional aspects of nicotine addiction. This treatment plan will be tailored to your specific needs and your doctor may even prescribe you certain medications to increase your likelihood of quitting the habit for good.

No Tobacco Day: How to Stop Smoking for Good

Posted Sunday 31 May 2020 10:00 by Harman Bhamra in Smoking Cessation

World No Tobacco Day occurs on the 31st of May every year. It sets out to raise awareness on the dangers that tobacco can have on your health.

If you have a smoking addiction, taking part in No Tobacco Day may seem like a huge challenge. This guide will help you to not only give up smoking for 24 hours - it will help you to stop smoking for good.

How To Stop Smoking

Just like any addiction, the road to quitting smoking is not always an easy one. It takes an immense amount of willpower to squash the symptoms of a nicotine addiction and cut out smoking for good.

While it’s not an easy journey, it’s not impossible. Around 1.3 million smokers successfully quit each year, proving that with the right tips and tricks, you can too!

1. Prescription Medication

Prescription medications provide one of the most effective solutions to help you stop smoking. The most popular medication, Champix, contains an active ingredient called varenicline which works in a variety of ways. It reduces your body’s reliance on nicotine, eliminating all of the nasty withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking. You can buy Champix right here at Express Pharmacy.

2. Go Cold Turkey

You’ve probably heard of the phrase ‘cold turkey’ before. It is a quitting method which involves no assistance - you just have to use a lot of willpower to never touch a cigarette again.

While the cold turkey method is possible, many people tend to find that it doesn’t have long-lasting effects. More times than not, smokers will end up straying back towards cigarettes after attempting to go cold turkey.

3. Nicotine Replacements

Nicotine replacements can come in many forms - patches and sprays are the most popular. As nicotine is the most addictive part of a cigarette, these nicotine replacements help to satisfy your cravings without having to inhale any nasty tobacco.

Nicotine replacements are pretty effective at reducing your cravings, but it’s important to remember that they can’t be a long-term solution. You will eventually need to stray away from these products so that you can quit the habit properly. They act as a good stepping stone.

Want More Information?

Looking for more resources to help you with your quitting journey? Check out the two guides below, which will provide you with further information.

If you’re struggling with a smoking addiction and need more assistance, visit your doctor or get in touch with us on 0208 123 0703.

No Smoking Day: Why Should I Use Champix to Stop Smoking?

Posted Wednesday 11 March 2020 09:25 by Harman Bhamra in Smoking Cessation

Cigarettes contain nicotine. This highly addictive substance increases the levels of two important chemicals in your brain - dopamine and noradrenaline. These changes happen rapidly.

When you smoke, nicotine rushes to your brain, creating feelings of pleasure as well as reducing anxiety and stress. This is why many smokers enjoy the “high” and eventually, depend on it. There are about 7.4 million smokers in the United Kingdom.

Eventually, your brain gets used to nicotine. To get the same effect, you will need to smoke more. This leads to an addiction that’s hard to quit.

The Effects of Smoking

Smoking addiction can lead to severe consequences. Below are some of the health complications:

  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cataracts and other eye issues
  • Heart disease
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Cold and other respiratory infections
  • Miscarriage
  • Gum disease
  • Dental problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Premature ageing
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste

Second-hand smoke is also as dangerous. Studies show that it can cause cancer, heart disease, asthma, and other respiratory infections to people close to smokers. Children are particularly at risk.

Use Champix Tablets to Stop Your Smoking Addiction

Quitting smoking is not easy. But it’s not impossible. Aside from lifestyle changes, there is now a prescription medicine designed to help you quit smoking for good.

What is Champix?

Champix is a prescription treatment made from varenicline. Unlike nicotine addiction therapies, Champix smoking tablets don’t contain any nicotine. Instead, it works by blocking the effects of nicotine in your brain - reducing your cravings and helping you cope up with the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

Champix is a twelve-week course of tablets that you take with food in the mornings and the evenings. During the first three days, you will only require to take one tablet each morning.

How do Champix smoking tablets work?

Champix tablets work by blocking nicotine. When you smoke, nicotine enters your bloodstream and attaches itself to nicotine receptors which then release dopamine - your pleasure hormone. Champix works by attaching itself to most of these receptors thus:

  • Giving you a continual hit of pleasure that’s spread evenly throughout the day.
  • Decreasing your cravings.
  • Decreasing your withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and frustration.
  • Preventing you from getting a strong pleasure hit when you smoke.

How effective is Champix?

The Champix success rate is very high. According to the NHS, more than 6 in 10 smokers who use Champix tablets, along with proper support, stop smoking for a month or more.

Who should take Champix?

Champix tablets are for those who are motivated to give up their smoking addiction but can’t find success using other means.

Who should NOT take Champix?

Although Champix is considered safe for most people, doctors don't recommend taking Champix smoking tablets if you are:

  • Under 18 years old
  • Suffering from severe kidney failure
  • Suffering from mental health problems
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

What if I miss a dose of Champix?

You should take Champix smoking tablets regularly, at the same time each day. If you miss a dose, don’t double dose to make up for it. Take a dose as soon as you remember it. If it’s almost time for your next dose, do not take the Champix tablet that you missed.

Can I still smoke while taking Champix?

Yes. Part of the course is deciding on a specific date when you will stop smoking. This is usually done during the second week of treatment. This date is known as your “quit date”. If you choose to continue smoking after your quit date, your chances of successfully quitting your smoking addiction will drop.

Can I use Champix with other medications?

Champix should not interfere with other medications. But to be sure, consult with your doctor before starting the course.

What are the Champix side effects that I need to be aware of?

Some of the common Champix side effects include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Headache

Champix tablets may also cause sleepiness. If you drive regularly, operate complex machines, or work in a hazardous environment, don’t take Champix smoking tablets until you are sure that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to perform these tasks.

Depression, anxiousness, irritability, and inability to focus are common symptoms of smoking withdrawal. You’ll experience this with or without taking Champix tablets. Rarely though does depression lead to suicidal thoughts. If you experience suicidal behaviour while taking the course, stop taking Champix immediately and consult with your doctor.

Other Champix side effects include weight gain or increased appetite and decreased heart rate.

Is Champix Enough to Quit Smoking?

No. Champix helps you give up smoking, but without willpower, you are unlikely to succeed. Quitting smoking is hard. Below are some tips on how to keep yourself motivated.

  • Remember the reasons why you want to quit smoking. This could be personal, health, financial, or family reasons. It's best if you write these on paper and place them on a place that you can see every day to continually remind yourself.
  • Most cravings last for 5 minutes. You can develop a strategy to help you cope up with these episodes (e.g. taking a walk, chewing gum, listening to a song, stretching, etc.)
  • Avoid going to places where smoking is common (pubs, bars, etc.). Instead, try to enjoy other social activities where there is no opportunity to smoke (playing sports, cinema, etc.)
  • Talk to your family or friends and ask for their support. There are also helplines available if you want.

Where can I buy Champix?

You can buy Champix tablets online from Express Pharmacy. Browse our stop smoking treatments to get started.

5 Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction

Posted Friday 10 January 2020 09:07 by Harman Bhamra in Smoking Cessation

Smoking addictions are incredibly common - the nicotine found in tobacco becomes highly addictive when smoked regularly.

While millions of people smoke globally, studies show that over 70% of smokers want to quit their addiction, but struggle to succeed. Read on to discover five of the most common symptoms of a nicotine addiction that you should be aware of, including ways to stop smoking if you wish to put an end to this health-damaging addiction.

Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction

There are many tell-tale signs of a nicotine addiction, but the clearest indicator will come from how often you reach for a cigarette. If the cravings are always too strong to ignore, then the addiction is more prevalent. The most common symptoms of an addiction are as follows:

Weight Gain

Many people who suffer from a nicotine addiction find themselves gaining a little bit of weight. Nicotine actually triggers the release of glucose in the muscles and liver which alters your insulin response. As a result, you suffer from a drop in blood sugars when away from a cigarette, resulting in the need to replace energy stores with food.

Irritability and Anger

Stress is a common sign of nicotine withdrawal in people who are addicted. This is triggered by the strong dysregulation of the endocrine and central nervous systems. This dysregulation leads to changes in your mood which can make you angry and irritable when you’ve not had a cigarette. This is an incredibly vicious cycle as smokers begin to believe that they need a nicotine rush to stay calm.

Smoking Even When Unwell

If you’re tempted to light up a cigarette even when you’re sick, there’s a strong chance you’re addicted. This is especially the case in people who still insist on maintaining their habit, even with serious conditions such as cancers or heart problems.


Anyone who has smoked will know just how difficult it can be to fight the cravings for a cigarette. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t smoke and are desperate to have a cigarette, it’s a strong indication that you’re very addicted to the nicotine. The longer you can go without needing to light up, the milder your addiction is.

Avoiding Activities That Will Halt Smoking

Many places, such as hospitals, schools and cinemas, are no-smoking zones. If you are avoiding activities with friends or family on the grounds that you know you won’t be able to smoke there, your addiction is taking over.

What Happens When You Stop Smoking?

Nicotine addictions are detrimental to your health, but hard to escape. What happens when you stop smoking? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

When you decide to stop smoking, the cravings for cigarettes come in waves – they can be incredibly intense at first, but then will gradually pass and fade. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and it actually happens sooner than you think - just as long as you persevere.

Within 20 minutes, your body has already started the process of healing itself. Your circulation begins to improve, and your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After eight hours of no nicotine in your system, you have half the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your bloodstream. However, you may also be experiencing intense cravings by this stage.

At 12 hours, your carbon monoxide levels in the body have returned to normal and your heart will be able to perform better as a result. Smokers who smoke a packet of cigarettes a day are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack as a non-smoker, but by 24 hours without nicotine, the chances of this have lowered.

At 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste are improving, and your body is detoxing the chemicals in your lungs and bloodstream. At this point, you will no doubt be experiencing headaches, dizziness and irritability as your body cleans itself up. This is the toughest time in the quitting stage but sticking with it is vital for success.

By the end of day three, your energy levels will rise and your ability to breathe will be clearer. Between two weeks and three months, you’ll make huge strides and will find you can exercise for longer and breathe more freely. Cravings are still common at this stage, but the intensity will have started to calm down, making it easier to control. From here until the one year mark and beyond, your health continues to improve and your risk of diseases and health concerns drop dramatically.

Check out our guide on the timeline of smoking withdrawal for more information.

Ways to Stop Smoking

If you’re wondering how to stop smoking, we’ve compiled some tips to help you get on the road to recovery. There are many strategies you can choose, from using prescribed stop smoking tablets to specialised chewing gum. Here are the top picks that most smokers find useful.

Use Champix tablets

Champix tablets are one of the most popular medications used to quit smoking. They’re simple to consume and can successfully fight addiction in as little as 12 weeks. There are many benefits which come from using Champix tablets - they help to reduce cravings and eventually win you back a higher quality life. They also help to reduce stress and irritability, as well as alleviating headaches and other addiction-related symptoms; making it easier to keep on track.

Keep yourself busy

Finding a distraction is a great way to reduce your need for nicotine, as often cigarettes are used out of habit. If you can go for a walk, play a game with family or chat to a friend when you feel a craving coming on, you’ll distract yourself enough to let it pass.

Make a list of reasons to quit smoking

When you’re struggling to stay on track, remind yourself of the benefits of quitting and the reasons why you wanted to in the first place. Write down your top five reasons why you want to stop smoking and refer to it every time you have an urge to smoke.


Nicotine is an addictive substance and quitting is never easy. But with the right support and a great mindset, you can overcome your addiction to smoking, as many others have in the past. Whether it’s keeping busy, using prescription medication (which can be through purchased through Express Pharmacy) to ease your cravings or setting goals, quitting smoking is achievable for anyone.

Here at Express Pharmacy, our pharmaceutical experts are passionate about getting you on the road to a healthier life. Be sure to take a look at our stop smoking products or get in touch on 0208 123 0703.

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The Top 6 Healthiest New Year's Resolutions

Posted Wednesday 08 January 2020 17:48 by Harman Bhamra in Smoking Cessation

When the New Year rolls around, the majority of us enter into a state of reflection, picking apart how we can better ourselves over the coming months. But while resolutions are fun to make, they can be challenging to maintain, resulting in most of us failing to keep them up for the entire year.

Studies suggest that a third of us aim to try harder in at least one area of our lives in January, and while intentions are good for the first few weeks, they inevitably get forgotten about as life gets in the way and enthusiasm wanes.

However, if there’s one area of your life that you should make an effort to improve, it’s your health.

From gaining a more positive body image to reducing the risk of potential health problems, numerous benefits come with prioritising your health. The following six resolutions are some of the healthiest ones you can make, meaning sticking to them will bring you incredible benefits.

The healthiest New Year's Resolutions

1. Lose Weight

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. It seems that many of us feel unhappy with our weight and resolve to shift the excess pounds after Christmas.

This is all fine and well, but losing weight takes effort and determination, so it can be difficult to commit to in the long-term. Weight loss is not a resolution that you can see overnight success from, and this reason alone is why so many people lose the motivation to shed some pounds.

There are various routes you can take when it comes to losing weight, from keeping a food journal to stay on top of progress, to taking prescription weight loss pills. You’ll likely find that a mixture of the best weight loss pills, exercise, and diet will be the perfect recipe for weight loss success.

2. Keep in Touch with Friends and Family

The New Year is the perfect time to reconnect with friends and family, which, in turn, is great for your health.

Research shows that people who have a strong bond with people in their lives live longer than those who don’t. The reason behind this is that a lack of social relationships and sense of loneliness can lead on to more serious problems like alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity.

With so many apps and technological devices on hand, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with people or rekindle a forgotten relationship. Send off some text messages or emails to loved ones and follow them up with an in-person visit – you’ll instantly feel better, and you’ll make someone else’s day in the process too.

3. Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the chance of having a stroke by as much as 50%, and it has also been linked to countless health concerns, from cancers to coronary heart disease.

If you are looking to stop smoking in the New Year, there are plenty of methods you can use to help make the transition easier. One of the most popular prescription medications used for quitting smoking is Champix; 45% of users manage to quit smoking after just 12 weeks of taking it.

4. Lower Your Stress Levels

A bit of pressure in life can be good for us, but when your stress levels increase too often, it can be incredibly detrimental to your health.

Chronic stress is prevalent in today’s fast-paced society, but it’s been linked to numerous health concerns including heart disease, obesity, insomnia and depression. Many factors in our lives can make us stressed, from long hours at work to a lack of sleep and poor diet.

Stress is inevitable in short bouts and can even give us a boost of adrenaline in certain situations, but this doesn’t mean you should disregard the importance of relaxation and a good night’s sleep. In the New Year, try to take time out of your schedule to spend time with loved ones, catch up on sleep and do relaxing activities such as reading or yoga.

5. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

The festive period is a prime time to slip out of healthy routine and indulge in alcohol and food. Once over, many of us make the resolution to cut back on the amount of alcohol we drink.

Drinking alcohol to excess can impact the brain’s neurotransmitters, heightening the risk of several mental health problems, including depression, memory loss and seizures. Alcohol is also detrimental to our physical health, from weight gain and liver problems to heart disease and hypertension. Are the health consequences really worth it?

Make it one of your health-related New Year goals to cut back on alcohol to improve your health - and bank balance.

6. Get More Sleep

We’re always being told that a good night’s rest is healthy for us, but do you know just how beneficial to our health it really is?

From improving your mood to lowering stress levels, sleep is incredibly important for our physical and mental health. Lack of sleep increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain and high blood pressure, as well as making it more difficult to strengthen memories which is a process known as memory consolidation.

When you regularly get a poor night’s sleep, your mind is foggy, you struggle to cope with daily stresses effectively, and your immune system suffers. So, next year, make it one of your goals to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest.

Become a healthier version of yourself in the New Year

These top six New Year’s resolutions are great for many reasons, but the main point to take away is the fact that they’re all achievable. With help from a few small tweaks to your daily routine, you will be on the road to a better, healthier version of yourself.

For more information regarding effective stop smoking and weight loss treatments, get in touch with our pharmacists today on 0208 123 0703.

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Tags: General Health Stop Smoking Weight Loss

TIMELINE: What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

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

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] 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 Johanna Galyen in Smoking Cessation

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 Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

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 Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

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 Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

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.

How Much Damage Can Smoking Actually Cause?

Posted Monday 03 September 2018 17:25 by Tim Deakin in Smoking Cessation

Although the number of active smokers in the UK has dropped significantly in the last decade, 9 million Brits still smoke cigarettes regularly. It’s no secret that this isn’t good for your health, but the extent of the damage is truly sobering. Smoking is biggest cause of preventable deaths in England alone, accounting for more than 8,000 deaths a year. In fact, 50% of smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. Understanding the damage caused is one way to encourage smokers to kick the habit for good.

Smoking affects your… Lungs

Lungs top the list of most affected organs when it comes to smoking. And the infamous ‘smoker’s cough’ is just the start. 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are the direct result of smoking. Tobacco smoke can also cause other fatal diseases such as emphysema and pneumonia.


Poisons from the tar in your cigarettes make their way into your bloodstream when you smoke, and these poisons can consequently make your blood thicker, increasing the chance of clots. The result of clotting is that blood pressure and heart rate can increase as the arteries narrow. All of these factors increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.


Smoking increases your risk of having a stroke by 50%, which in turn can lead to brain damage or even death. This is mainly because smoking increases your risk of having a brain aneurysm, caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall. However, within five years of stopping smoking, a smoker’s risk of stroke is the same as that of a non-smoker.


The damage smoking causes to your blood circulation can in turn cause significant damage to your heart, increasing your risk of conditions like coronary heart disease, heart attack, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease and stroke. Carbon monoxide from the smoke and nicotine also puts a strain on your heart by making it work at an increased rate. Your risk of experiencing a heart attack doubles when you smoke, but this risk is reduced by half after just one year of being smoke-free.

Mouth and Throat

Smoking may cause bad breath and stained teeth, but this is only the beginning of the problems in the mouth and throat. Gum disease is a common consequence of smoking, while cancers of the lips, throat, tongue and oesophagus are also widely seen in heavy smokers. In fact, 93% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the throat) are caused by smoking.


For men, smoking can be a key cause of impotence. It can also damage sperm, reduce sperm count and lead to testicular cancer. Around 120,000 of UK men in their 20s and 30s are impotent due to smoking. For women, smoking can reduce fertility, with figures revealing that smokers are three times more likely to take over a year to conceive.


Smoking can make you more prone to acid reflux, as well as significantly increasing your chance of getting stomach ulcers and cancers. Research has also shown that if those who regularly smoke ten cigarettes a day are 1.5 times more likely to develop kidney cancer compared to a non-smoker.


Even bones can be affected by smoking, as smoking cigarettes causes the tissue of the bones to weaken and become brittle over time. This is more common in women, who are more likely to suffer from conditions like osteoporosis and therefore need to take extra care.

Champix is an effective smoking relief medication from Express Pharmacy. Get in touch today for more information on 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet live chat service.