08/03/2016 10:43 GMT | Updated 09/03/2017 05:12 GMT

Why It's Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

We are in reach of a tobacco-free generation in England.

That might be hard to imagine, but fewer young people are smoking than ever before. From 2002 to 2014, the proportion of children aged 15 who have ever smoked reduced from 23% to just 7.5%.

Public Health England's vision is for a smokefree generation and a step towards this would be to reduce the rate of 15 year olds smoking down to 5%. It is imperative that this trend continues to move in the right direction, with fewer young people taking up smoking, and more smokers choosing to give up for good.

The best way to reduce smoking among young people is to reduce smoking in the world around them, helping adults to quit so that smoking is no longer the norm. It is never too late to quit, and the benefits of doing so reach far beyond your own health and wellbeing, it will make a difference for future generations.

Today is No Smoking Day, a yearly event which aims to help more people start their journey to becoming 'proud quitters'. Now is the right time to quit and with the launch this week of another major campaign 'One You' there is now even more support available. Every cigarette causes you real harm and quitting smoking is healthier for you and your family.

The immediate benefits

Many adults, especially those over the age of 50, question what the real benefits of quitting smoking are, especially when they have been smoking for most of their lives.

However, the health benefits of quitting, no matter your age, are felt almost immediately:

  • After 20 minutes your pulse rate returns to normal
  • After 8 hours the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half and oxygen levels return to normal
  • After just 72 hours breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase
  • After just 1 year your risk of heart disease is about half of that of a current smoker

The impact on others

Smoking remains the number one cause of preventable illness and premature death in this country. As well as harming the individual, it also harms those around them through exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smoking is of course a personal choice, but it is important that smokers realise the impact they have on those around them. Their smoking habits may influence the smoking choices of their children, their grandchildren and others.

And although rates of smoking in young people have dropped, the vast majority of smokers still start when they are very young - 66% before the age of 18. Young people are heavily influenced by the environment around them, that's why it is important the environment around them is a healthy one.


Reaching 28 days with support

By 28 days people have overcome the majority of the physical withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking. By this time they have also broken some of the behavioural patterns, such as not smoking after leaving work, and these two factors mean they are more likely to quit for good.

There is a huge array of support out there to help smokers to quit now, completely and forever, including tools, apps and free expert face-to-face support. You can put together a package that works with your lifestyle.

A good place to start is by speaking to your GP or your local pharmacy - they can put you in touch with your local stop smoking service.

These services have been developed by experts and ex-smokers and with their help and advice, you have the best chance of quitting successfully.


Older smokers who have been smoking for many years may be discouraged from past failed quit attempts. It's important to persevere though.

It is never too late to quit, and you won't be alone: more older smokers are successful and among the over 50s for everyone who smokes there are two who have quit.

Why not make No Smoking Day 2016 your first day as an ex-smoker?