Smoking causes many diseases and health problems, some fatal, among both smokers and non-smokers. In Northern Ireland, around 2,300 people die from smoking related illnesses each year.
Avoiding a smoking habit
Many people say they started smoking before the age of 18, even though the law prevents anyone selling tobacco, cigarettes or cigarette papers to those under this age.
Avoiding the temptation to smoke at an early age is important to prevent you developing a habit.
Reasons to quit smoking
People give up smoking for many reasons - from a wish to improve their health or to save money, to wanting to appeal to the opposite sex or reduce any potential harm to someone else's health.
Improving your health
In the UK one person dies from a smoking-related disease every four minutes. Smoking causes:
- lung cancer (smoking causes around 85 per cent of all lung cancer deaths)
- heart disease
- stomach ulcers
- other cancers, for example, mouth and throat cancer
Smoking can worsen colds, chest problems like bronchitis and emphysema, and allergies like hay fever. It also has unpleasant side-effects such as wrinkles and bad breath.
Smoking can also make you cough, sneeze or feel short of breath when you exercise.
Calculate how much your smoking habit is costing you in terms of money and you might be surprised how much you could save.
Protecting other people's health
Breathing in other people's cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke, can also cause cancer.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get chest illnesses like:
Smoking during pregnancy can affect both you and your baby's health. If you are exposed to secondhand smoke, this can pass on harmful gases and chemicals to your baby.
Smoking is banned by law in many public places, including all forms of public transport, theatres, cinemas, and public buildings.
Types of treatment
When will power alone is not enough, there are various treatments and plenty of support services to help you kick the habit. These include:
- non-carcinogenic Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products can help reduce withdrawal symptoms - they come in the form of patches, gum, inhaler, nasal spray and lozenges
- the drugs champix and zyban are available on prescription only and also work to inhibit nicotine cravings
Using a support service
The Public Health Agency website 'Stop Smoking NI' offers a range of information and advice for those wanting to quit smoking, including information on local cessation services.
You can also ask your GP or local pharmacy