According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 20% of the British population consider themselves as a smoker.
Despite this being lower than the 45% of cigarette smokers in 1975, around 10m Brits are still lighting up everyday.
And it looks like British women are the biggest victims of the nation’s addiction, as lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the UK.
Recent figures revealed that despite positive predictions that breast cancer death will fall 9% in 2012, lung cancer continues to claim the lives of over 15,000 women a year.
Sadly, pregnant women are also struggling to stub out the cigarettes, too. According to recent figures by the NHS Information Centre, one in five pregnant women carry on smoking during their pregnancy in the North East of England.
Smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) state that the worrying statistics reflect on how tobacco companies have, and still do, deliberately target women with their ‘attractive’ packaging.
Chief executive of ASH, Deborah Arnott, told HuffPost Lifestyle: “We need plain packaging of cigarettes. Attractive ‘pretty’ packets make cigarettes appealing to women, but there is a big price to pay.
“Even today six out of ten teenage mothers is a smoker. This isn’t an accident, the tobacco industry deliberately targets young women with products like “super slims” in what they call ‘perfume packs’”.
To add to this, smoking has been proven to kick women into an early menopause and increase their chances of developing heart disease later in life. However, men aren't off the hook as it was recently discovered that smoking increases their chances of dementia.
Talking about the so-called harmless shisha pipes which are steadily gaining popularity among social smokers since the smoking ban in 2007, Dr Mike Knapton from the BHF said:
“Contrary to popular belief, shisha is not safer than smoking cigarettes. Don’t be duped by the sweet smell and wholesome sounding fruity flavours, if you use shisha you are a smoker and that means you’re putting your health at risk.
“It’s linked to the same serious and life-threatening diseases as cigarettes and there are added risks because you often smoke it for far longer than you would a cigarette and you’re also exposed to toxins from the wood or charcoal used to burn the tobacco. Fortunately No Smoking Day is a great opportunity for anyone who smokes, in whatever form, to try and quit.”
Although the statistics are worrying it isn’t all doom and gloom, as it seems that the endless anti-smoking campaigns are starting to pay off. According to figures compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), Britain has done better than many other countries tackling its ‘tobacco epidemic’, ranking at a relatively low 22nd place in a world league of cancer rates.
However, with lung cancer rates continuing to rise among British women and a startling average of 157,000 children who start smoking before they turn 15, there’s still a long way to go before the habit is stubbed out for good.
With over half of smokers claiming they want to stop smoking but 39% admitting that they light up five minutes after they wake up in the morning, it’s clear that giving up cigarettes isn’t as easy as it sounds.
However, with determination, a pinch of willpower and simple lifestyle and diet changes, the power is in your hands.
Patrick Holford, nutritional expert and author of How To Quit Without Feeling S**t, shares his top tips on giving up smoking through your diet:
- Balance your blood sugar levels by eating low GI foods. For an example of which foods are best, take a look here. (link to GI diet)
- In the first two weeks giving up, mix 8g of vitamin C with water and apple juice, as your immune system will start to kick in and this will strengthen your resistance to illness.
- Take 50mg of niacin (vitamin B3) twice a day with food as this will reduce those pesky nicotine cravings.
- If you have trouble sleeping due to the cigarette urges, take 100mg 5-HTP (a form of amino acid tryptophan) an hour before bed. This will help to naturally ease you to sleep.
And remember, the health benefits from quitting smoking don’t necessarily take a long time to kick in.
According to the We Quit campaign, after just 20 minutes of a non-cigarette life, your blood pressure and pulse begin to return to a normal rate. After 24 hours, carbon monoxide will be eliminated from your body and your lungs will start to clear out the tar that’s been clogging them up.
Around 48 hours after being cigarette-free, there will be no nicotine in your system. You will begin to notice that your sense will be sharper and your sense of smell will be greatly improved. Three days after giving up smoking, your breathing will be easier and you’ll find your energy levels soar.
If you want to stub out your smoking habit, visit the We Quit campaign in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation.
Although it seems ludicrous in 2012, cigarettes were once advertised on TV in a series of glamorous televised commercials.