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Smokers: save your health and your bank balance

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

13 March 2013

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It's No Smoking Day

It’s No Smoking Day

Times are tough. The economy is in the doldrums and many people are struggling to make ends meet. But if you’re a smoker then there’s a sure-fire way to start saving some cash: quit.

Of course, that’s often easier said than done. Most smokers say they would like to give up if they could. But the fact of matter is that nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs there is. Giving up is rarely a walk in the park.

That’s the bad news. The good news: help is at hand. Today is No Smoking Day, a campaign led by The British Heart Foundation, which encourages people to give up their habit. As part of the campaign, local No Smoking Day events are being run across the country and the We Quit website provides resources to smokers who are thinking of quitting and need some support. (We also have some tips on giving up on our own website) .

Every year over one million smokers will use No Smoking Day to try to quit. If you’ve been thinking about kicking your habit, then why not join forces with other smokers and start stopping today? It could be the first step to a new healthier – and wealthier – you.

If you need encouragement, then this gadget could help. Type in how much you smoke and it will work out how much your habit costs you every year, and give a few examples of the sorts of things you could do with that money.

Health benefits

Saving money is great, but saving your health is even better. There’s more good news: it’s never too late to reap the benefits of quitting. You will be less likely to die from a whole raft of smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, respiratory diseases and, of course, cancer.

The health effects start almost immediately and continue to build up as the weeks, months and years pass.


  • 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse return to normal
  • 8 hours nicotine, carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in your blood begin to return to normal
  • 3 days breathing is easier and your energy levels increase
  • 2-12 weeks circulation improves and exercise gets easier
  • 3-9 months breathing problems, coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing improve
  • 10 years your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker. You have the same risk of a heart attack as someone who has never smoked.

Profiting from death

By now it’s no secret: smoking kills (and giving up is good for you). But the statistics are staggering – it will kill one billion people in the 21st century if trends continue. And it’s worth remembering that the deadly habit is a cash cow for the tobacco industry, whose sole aim is to generate profit for its shareholders – a profit of more than £3,500 for every person who dies from smoking.

The bottom line is they don’t want you to quit and this isn’t an industry that can be trusted. It’s an industry with a long history of concealing the truth to keep profiting from death.

Tobacco companies continue to play fast and loose with the facts in order to protect their profits. Japan Tobacco International (JTI) recently spent £2m on an advertising campaign to thwart proposals to put tobacco in plain, standardised packaging.

But today the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that JTI made claims that could not be substantiated.

Stopping the next generation of smokers

No Smoking Day is about supporting people to give up their habit. But we also need to stop the tobacco industry creating its next generation of customers. That’s exactly why we’re lobbying the Government to make tobacco companies standardise their packaging and ‘de-brand’ their lethal product.

The current slick and colourful designs of tobacco packs encourage young people to take up smoking, and such packaging also distracts from health messages about the dangers of smoking. It’s no surprise then that JTI spent so much trying to muddy the waters when it comes to public opinion about the power of packaging.

But despite the profit-protecting efforts of tobacco companies, just last week an unnamed source said the Government plans to legislate for standardised packs. We’ll continue to campaign to make this rumour a reality.

Good luck

But back to No Smoking Day – helping people quit is equally important in addressing the devastating health toll of smoking. So, to anyone who has been toying with the idea of quitting do use No Smoking Day as the prompt for change – good luck, and stick with it. You won’t regret it.