Quitting smoking is the single best thing
you can do for your heart health
If you're a smoker, stopping smoking
is the single most important step you can take to protect the
health of your heart. Smokers are almost
twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people
who have never smoked.
Stopping smoking has huge benefits
and it’s never too late to give up.
Why should I quit?
Stopping smoking is the single best
thing you can do for your heart health, and the good news
is that the risk to your heart health decreases significantly soon
after you stop.
By quitting you’ll be improving your own
health by dramatically reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and a variety of cancers. You’ll feel
better, and have more money to spend on other things that you
No Smoking Day
Every year in March we encourage smokers to quit for at least
one day. Find out how you can get involved and organise a No Smoking Day event near
you, and if you'd like to quit our We Quit website is here to help, all
How does smoking damage your heart?
Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which
includes coronary heart disease
- Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build
up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the
artery. This can cause angina, a
heart attack or a stroke.
- The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces
the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to
pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.
- The nicotine in cigarettes
stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart
beat faster and raises your
blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
- Your blood is more likely to
clot, which increases your risk of having a
heart attack or stroke. Take a look at
our cardiovascular disease page to find
out more about blood clots and the damage they can do to your
When non-smokers breathe in second-hand smoke - also
known as passive smoking - it can be harmful.
Research shows that exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is
a cause of heart disease in non-smokers, which means you could be
harming the health of your children, partner and
Other ways of using tobacco
It’s not just cigarettes that are harmful, smoking
can also damage your
health. A shisha
is a water pipe
(also known as a hookah, narghile, or hubble bubble pipe) through
which flavoured tobacco is smoked.
Recent research has shown that shisha smoke contains large quantities of the
chemicals that can lead to heart disease, lung cancer and other
cancers in tobacco smokers. The average shisha-smoking
session lasts an hour and research has shown that in this time you
can inhale the same amount of smoke as from more than 100
Chewing tobacco is
not a healthier alternative to smoking; it can increase your risk
of mouth cancer, throat cancer and cancer of the oesophagus (food
pipe). It can also make your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay
and can cause tooth loss.
Get the right support
Remember that you’re not alone. You can
Smoking Day website is full of information on how to
quit and has an online forum with 44,000 fellow quitters you
can swap tips with. Download our
stop smoking booklet, and join our free Heart Matters
service, who can help you with support and advice.
On the phone
You can also call the NHS Smoking Helpline
- In England 0800 434 6677
- In Wales 0800 085 2219
- In Scotland 0800 84 84 84
- In Northern Ireland 0808 812 8008
In person in your area
Your doctor, practice
nurse or pharmacist can give you advice
on quitting and information on:
- joining a stop smoking clinic or stop smoking group,
- using nicotine replacement products, and
- taking medication to help you stop smoking.
Practical tips to help you stop smoking
- Make a date to give up - and stick to it!
Throw away all your tobacco, lighters and ashtrays.
- Make a plan.Think about what could help you
stop smoking, such as using a nicotine-replacement product, and
have it ready before the date you plan to stop.
- Think smart and download or order our
Stop smoking booklet, or visit No Smoking Day for
detailed information about different methods of stopping
- Get support and let your family and friends
know that you're quitting. Some people find that talking to friends
and relatives who have stopped can be helpful. You can also talk to
your doctor, practice nurse, pharmacist, or one of the
organisations listed below about what support is available to
- Keep busy to help take your mind off
cigarettes. Try to change your routine, and avoid the shop where
you normally buy cigarettes.
- Treat yourself. If you can, use the money
you're saving by not smoking to buy yourself something
For more tips, guidance and support, check out the No Smoking Day
website or download or order our booklet
Stop smoking, which is full of ideas and practical activities
to help you give up for good.