We’re nearly at the end of October, which also means the end of Stoptober, an initiative in the UK set up by the NHS and Public Health England. The concept came about to help people stop smoking, giving smokers the challenge of stopping completely for one month. After thinking about quitting, that first step can be the most daunting, and Stoptober is a great way to combat this and kick off the new you. Whether you tried Stoptober or not, we have 10 reasons why you should carry on with your challenge into November and beyond.
The whole Stoptober campaign began in 2012, following research that showed if someone gave up smoking for 28 days, they were 5 times more likely to stop altogether. The statistics are in your favour, so keep going!
Your skin probably looks a lot brighter and more natural than it did a month ago, and people may have even commented on it. When you smoke, your body gets less oxygen through the blood vessels and they become damaged, but within a few days of quitting smoking these begin to repair themselves and the oxygen reaches all parts of your body, including your skin. Carry on like this and your skin will improve further, and will also stop any further long term damage, like premature wrinkling.
Within two hours of quitting smoking your body starts to experience some positive effects, so imagine what 28 days has done! Your lung capacity will have improved, and you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to do intense physical activities like running or swimming. Your blood pressure has dropped, and your heart will be beating stronger as well.
Lower blood pressure, better circulation, bigger lung capacity and many other positive effects all lead to a decrease in the risk of dangerous diseases. Smokers are at a much higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, cancer and even issues with your bones and fertility, but our bodies have an amazing ability to regenerate. Once you quit, these risks began to go down as early as a week into the Stoptober challenge, and continuing on this path will help reduce these risks even further.
Smoking puts both men and women at risk of infertility. Sperm becomes damaged and sperm count goes down, and women’s ability to conceive is 72% that of a non-smoker. The good news is stopping smoking reverses these effects and men and women will find it easier to conceive. What’s more, smoking during pregnancy can have extremely dangerous effects on an unborn baby, so stopping before you get pregnant is the best way to ensure the health of your baby.
Taste buds are damaged by smoking and many don’t realise this until they quit smoking. As little as 3 days into Stoptober you may have noticed more vivid tastes, and this coupled with an increased appetite has probably got you appreciating food a lot more! Good circulation also helps fingertips to become more sensitive to touch, and clearer lungs and sinuses will have improved your sense of smell.
Although not linked to your health, this is definitely a factor that should be recognised and celebrated. If you usually smoke a packet of cigarettes a day, you’ve already saved up to £250/$300 this month, and carrying on adds up to nearly £3,000/$4,000 a year! Why not put the money you would have spent on cigarettes into something positive for your health, like a weekly massage or a gym membership?
Second hand smoke is a proven danger of smoking, and means the people around you were suffering from the effects of your smoking habit. Inhaling second hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease by 25%, and children who are around smokers are more likely to go on to be smokers themselves. The benefits of quitting smoking are instant for those around you, and their health risks are now greatly reduced because of your actions.
Quitting smoking initially comes with withdrawal symptoms, but many suffer these every night anyway, disrupting their sleeping pattern and leading to tiredness. After a month of not smoking, your cravings will be reducing and you will have found your sleep quality has improved. What’s more, your body is no longer working as hard as it was to function normally, so your day to day energy levels are much better as well.
It took a lot of courage and willpower to get this far and not smoke for a whole month, so why stop now? You've taken the most difficult step and from now on not smoking should get easier and easier, so don't give up on giving up!
These are just some of the top reasons to continue on your path to stop smoking. If you’ve succeeded in taking part in Stoptober, congratulations, and we hope you have the motivation and willpower to continue. Remember, there are tons of resources and tips out there to help you stop smoking, and you really will feel the benefits.
Mandy has worked for Isabel Healthcare since 2000. Prior to this, she was a Senior Staff Nurse on the Pediatric Infectious disease ward and high dependency unit at one of London's top hospitals, St Mary’s in Paddington which is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Her experience in the healthcare industry for the past 28 years in both the UK and USA means she's a vital resource for our organization. Mandy currently lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.