The British Heart Foundation is calling on smokers to bust the common myths associated with smoking and commit to quitting on 11 March- No Smoking Day.
The charity expects nearly one million smokers to attempt to quit on the day.
New research released ahead of No Smoking Day shows that smokers have a 70% increased risk of anxiety and depression when compared with non-smokers, despite the commonly held perception that lighting-up is a stress reliever
Levels of anxiety and depression reported by long-term ex-smokers were indistinguishable from people who have never smoked and much lower than current smokers. This suggests that quitting smoking could help people combat anxiety and depression and improve mental health.
Professor Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at UCL and lead researcher, said: “Our study found that long-term ex-smokers have similar prevalence of anxiety and depression to non-smokers and considerably lower levels than smokers. Quitting smoking could be the key to improving not only your physical health, but your mental health too.”
The findings support a recent review of 26 studies published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 that found that quitting smoking is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke. The review also found that quitting smoking has the same or stronger effect on treating mood and anxiety disorders than antidepressants.
Liverpool’s Director of Public Health Sandra Davies said: “Signing up to quit smoking really is one of the best things you can do for your health and your family’s health. We know that the vast majority of smokers in Liverpool are keen to quit and there is lots of support to wean people off tobacco so why not make No Smoking Day the day you start to stop and join millions of other smokers to quit together.”
Liverpool still has one of the worst rates of lung cancer in the country, despite the rate of smoking falling dramatically – down from 35 %in 2005 to 25 %in 2013.
Nearly one in five UK adults smokes, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and a variety of cancers. The good news is that stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health, and the risk to your health decreases significantly soon after stopping.
Public Health England are encouraging as many smokers as possible to sign up to the free One Day Quit tool and begin their smokefree journey on 11 March, alongside thousands of fellow quitters.
If people wish to sign up for free support on No Smoking Day itself, then they can access the Smokefree four-week programme by searching ‘Smokefree’ online.
Smokers can also get free local, confidential, friendly advice and practical help to quit smoking from Roy Castle FagEnds on 0800 195 2131. To find out which pharmacies provide stop smoking services, contact health promotion on 0151 295 3256.