Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Health & Medicine

Ex-smokers are healthier, wealthier and – new research shows – happier

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | News

12 May 2009

0 comments 0 comments

Ex-smokers are overwhelmingly happier after quitting according to a new Cancer Research UK study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research*.

Researchers studied the responses of 879 adults who had stopped smoking. More than two thirds (69.3 per cent) said that they feel happier now than when they were smoking and only one in thirty (3.3 per cent) felt less happy. Around a quarter (26.6 per cent) said they felt the same.

The length of time since quitting affected the level of happiness. Ex-smokers who had stopped more than a year ago reported feeling happier than ex-smokers who had stopped within the last year. Even among ex-smokers who had recently stopped a large majority felt happier than when they smoked.

Younger ex-smokers were also more likely to report feeling happier than older ex-smoker.

There was no difference in the level of happiness between ex-smokers who smoked heavily or those who smoked fewer cigarettes irrespective of age, sex, social group and time since giving up smoking.

Cancer Research UK’s Dr Lion Shahab, lead researcher based at the UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre, said: “There may be many reasons why ex-smokers say they’re happier now than when they were smokers, including self-justification. These results provide reassurance to would-be quitters that they will not only improve their physical health but that their quality of life is also likely to improve if they succeed in stopping smoking.”

“Most smokers would like to give up if they could. But for some, stopping isn’t simple. Previous research has shown that it generally takes more than one attempt to successfully quit. The important thing is that people keep trying.”

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco control, said: “Smoking is very expensive. At today’s rates, smoking around twenty cigarettes a day for the next twenty years would cost over £40,000 – that’s over £2,000 from a smoker’s annual income. So giving up smoking makes you wealthier as well as healthier.

“But tobacco is a deadly addiction that costs smokers more than just money. Half of all long term smokers will die from the addiction, so quitting is one of the most important steps a smoker can take to improve their health.

“Preventing children from starting smoking is vital also. Putting tobacco out of sight in shops, getting rid of vending machines and wrapping cigarettes in plain packaging will all help to protect young people from the devastating influence of tobacco marketing. We’re calling on parliament to adopt these measures in the current Health Bill.”

For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300 or, out of hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.