Benefits of giving up smoking

If you’re a smoker, choosing to stop is a decision that will benefit your health. Smoking increases the risk of several types of cancer. It can also lead to heart and lung diseases. If you are coping with a cancer diagnosis, you may find it stressful to give up smoking. However, if you choose to stop, you are likely to have fewer side effects during cancer treatment. If you are ready to stop, giving up smoking will help you feel better and be healthier.

You’ll find that giving up smoking has many benefits:

  • Treatment benefits – stopping can reduce treatment side effects, may help it to be more effective and can reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
  • Health benefits – your doctor can discuss this with you and explain how smoking affects your body.
  • Financial benefits – giving up smoking could allow you to save up to £2,700 a year.
  • Physical benefits – your skin will look better.
  • Benefits to your family – you’ll protect them against the damaging effects of passive smoking.

Treatment benefits

If you are having treatment for cancer, stopping smoking may help the treatment work better.  It can help your body respond to the treatment and heal more quickly. You are also likely to have fewer side effects from cancer treatment if you do not smoke and they also tend to be less severe. Stopping smoking may also lower the risk of cancer coming back after treatment.

Stopping smoking before surgery

If you smoke and are due to have surgery, your surgeon will talk to you about the benefits of giving up smoking before your operation. It is best to stop smoking 8 weeks before having surgery. But even stopping a few weeks before and not smoking after surgery will reduce the risk of complications.

The more you smoke and the longer you have smoked, the more likely it is that you will develop problems during and after surgery. If you smoke, you have a higher risk of wound problems and complications after surgery. This is because smoking damages blood vessels.

If you stop smoking before having surgery: 

  • you are likely to recover more quickly 
  • you are more likely have a shorter stay in hospital
  • your wound is likely to heal more quickly.

All hospitals will give you help and support to stop smoking.

Stopping smoking during radiotherapy

Research has shown that stopping smoking during and after radiotherapy may make the treatment more effective. It can also reduce the side effects of radiotherapy.

Heath benefits of giving up smoking

Smoking increases the risk of several types of cancer and is linked to many other health problems, such as heart and lung disease. Smoking also increases your risk of developing certain cancers, such as lung cancer or cancer in the head or neck.

Smoking can make some types of cancer grow more quickly. This may be because the chemicals in cigarettes affect your body’s immune system. Our immune system protects the body from harmful bacteria and other organisms.

If you chew or suck tobacco, you have a higher risk of developing mouth and oral cancers. Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. It is also very addictive because of the amount of nicotine it contains.

Giving up smoking will:

  • help your general health
  • increase your energy levels
  • improve your blood circulation
  • reduce your risk of a stroke
  • lower your blood pressure
  • boost your immune system
  • help improve your breathing or stop it from getting worse.

Understanding how smoking affects your health may help motivate you to stop. Your doctor can give you advice on the benefits of stopping smoking, for the type of cancer you have.

Improved breathing

If you have lung problems, smoking may make certain symptoms worse, such as a cough or breathlessness. The smoke makes the airways irritated and inflamed. This means less oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream. If you stop smoking, your breathing becomes easier within 3 days of stopping. This can also increase your energy levels. After 3 to 9 months, your breathing improves even more. This is because your lung function increases by up to 10%. But you may get a cold or cough in the first few months after quitting, as your lungs start to recover.

Other health benefits

Smoking causes your skin to age early. After a few weeks of stopping smoking, your skin will look clearer and brighter.

As blood circulation generally improves after stopping, men may also find they get improved erections.

Health benefits of giving up smoking
Health benefits of giving up smoking

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It doesn’t matter where you are in your life, you can change. You can get your fitness back, even after years of smoking.


Financial benefits

Smoking is expensive, so stopping will save you money. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, it costs you about £2,700 or more a year. Stopping smoking means you will have more money to spend on other things.

What I noticed initially was how much more money I had in my purse at the end of the week, whereas you know, maybe it would have gone on cigarettes. That was the real incentive for me.


Benefits for family and friends

Smoking does not only harm your own health. If you smoke around your family and friends, you are also exposing them to second-hand smoke. This is called passive smoking. This means they are also at a higher risk of getting smoking-related diseases, including cancer.

Children whose parents smoke are more likely to develop asthma at an early age. They are also more likely to start smoking themselves. If you have children or grandchildren, you can be a good role model for them by stopping smoking.

Children of parents who smoke also often worry about their parents’ health. By giving up, you could be putting your children’s minds at rest.

Back to Giving up smoking

Preparing to stop

Giving up smoking can be challenging. There are several things you can do that will help you quit.

Staying stopped

If you’ve decided to give up smoking, several things can help you stay stopped.

Reducing the cravings

There are several medicines you can use to reduce cravings and help you give up smoking.