Stop smoking

You can do it!

If you have a heart condition one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to stop smoking. At first it may feel overwhelming to think about stopping. Don't waste time feeling guilty about the past. Instead, try to think about the future. It is never too late to stop smoking.

  • First of all you need to make the decision that you really want to stop.
  • Then you can get the help and support you need to give up.
  • You can do it!

You are not alone!

Different approaches to giving up smoking suit different people. There is a lot of help and support available to help you. You do not need to do it on your own. Seeking support is not a sign of weakness: it is a sign that you really do want to stop smoking.

  • Smokeline 0800 84 84 84: Freephone telephone helpline open 8am-10pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm Saturday and Sunday. Smokeline can tell you the location of your nearest free stop smoking service, give you access to specialist counsellors and send you further information.
  • NHS Inform Stop Smoking: Information and support to help you stop smoking. Offers text support and live online chat with a Smokeline advisor.

Why give up?

When you smoke about 4000 chemicals are released. These include at least 80 cancer-causing chemicals; hundreds of poisons and nicotine (a highly addictive drug). See Cancer Research website for more details.

What smoking does to your body:

  • If you have a heart condition smoking may make your symptoms worse.
  • Smoking makes the smooth lining of blood vessels rough. This encourages the build up of atheroma, the fatty material that narrows and blocks blood vessels.
  • Smoking increases the amount of fibrinogen (blood thickening agent) in the blood and makes it stickier. This increases the chance of blood clots forming that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
  • Smoking also increases blood pressure and speeds up the heart.
  • Smoking increases the likelihood of heart disease, strokes and many cancers. It also damages the lungs, causing chronic lung disease.

The good news is that from the moment you stop smoking the risks to your health start to decline.

Health benefits

  • 20 minutes after quitting your blood pressure and pulse return to normal.
  • 48 hours: no nicotine is left in your body. Your senses of taste and smell are greatly improved.
  • 72 hours: your breathing becomes easier and your energy levels increase.
  • 2-12 weeks: your circulation improves and exercise can be easier.
  • 3-9 months: any coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve.
  • Within 5 years the risk of heart attack is halved.
  • Within 10 years the risk of lung cancer is halved and the risk of heart attack is at the same level as non–smokers.
  • Medium to long term: stopping smoking at any age increases your life expectancy, provided you stop before the onset of serious illness.
  • If you have developed a serious illness, you may still benefit from stopping.

 Financial benefits

These figures are based on a 20-a-day smoker paying £7.40 per packet of 20 cigarettes. You can also use this online cost calculator to find out how much smoking is costing you.


  • 1 day: £7.40 = a movie rental or a few magazines
  • 1 week: £51.80 = a facial, a cheap flight, paintballing, a day at the races
  • 1 month: £222 = a shopping spree or premier league football tickets
  • 3 months: £666 = holiday or a new laptop / TV
  • 6 months: £1,332 = a football season ticket for your favourite team, a family holiday, a home cinema or a top-of-the-range bicycle
  • 1 year: £2,701 = a new kitchen, a second-hand car or a luxury leather suite


Personal benefits

  • Freedom from an addictive habit
  • No more smelly breath, clothes and home
  • Good role model for children
  • Sense of well-being
  • Ability to do more exercise

Tips to help you stop

  • Decide that you really want to stop.
  • Prepare to stop: work out your smoking habits and be ready to make changes to your daily routines.
  • Some people put on weight when they stop smoking so plan how you could manage this.
  • Set a date and stick to it: tell family and friends and ask for their support.
  • Accept that smoking is a habit as well as an addiction. Very few smokers are just physically addicted to nicotine. Sometimes it can be an unconscious habit.
  • Break the habit: to do this you must be aware of why you are smoking and when you smoke. Keep a smoking diary to tell you this then try and change your routine as you stop. Try and find a new activity to keep your hands occupied.
  • Think about why smoking has been a part of your life. You may feel that it has helped you in some way, e.g. to relax or as a source of comfort or stimulation. How can you replace smoking? Find a distraction or another way to relax.
  • When you feel the urge to smoke try to distract yourself, e.g. brush your teeth, get some fresh air or do something to take your mind off it.
  • Seek professional help and support. Ask your doctor about what support is available to help you. Most areas have specialist smoking cessation nurses who run groups and / or offer one-to-one support.

You are 4 times more likely to quit smoking with professional support and prescribed medicines such as nicotine replacement therapy.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

The nicotine is the addictive substance found in cigarettes; it is this that gives you the craving to smoke and the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can help with this. NRT is available to buy from pharmacies and is also available on prescription.

NRT comes in a variety of different styles and in various strengths:

  • Patches
  • Gum
  • Inhalator
  • Micro tabs
  • Nasal spray

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using NRT.


There are two drugs available on prescription that are designed to help you stop smoking. Talk to your doctor to see if either is suitable for you.

  • Champix® (varenicline): a non-nicotine treatment that works by providing relief from cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It also makes smoking unpleasant. Ask your doctor for more information.
  • Zyban® (bupropion): this drug treatment changes your brain's response to nicotine. It makes smoking less pleasurable, reduces craving and can double your chance of succeeding. Ask your doctor for more information as this is not suitable for everyone.
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