Stop smoking

Smoking information

Stopping can be made easier when combined with some extra support.

Stopping smoking

Smoking and mental health

It’s a myth that smoking helps with stress. Quitting can reduce your stress and anxiety.

How does smoking cause stress?

Smoking cigarettes interferes with certain chemicals in the brain, so if you haven’t had a cigarette for a while, the craving for another one makes you feel irritable and anxious.

These feelings are only relieved for a short while when you light up a cigarette. But your body will soon start to crave another, making you feel irritable and anxious again.

Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop depression over time.

man with head down looking anxious

When people stop smoking, studies show:

  • anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower
  • your quality of life and positive mood will improve
  • the dosage of some medicines used to treat mental health problems can be reduced.

Top tips for dealing with stress when quitting

  • get the right help and support to take the stress out of quitting smoking
  • know your triggers and how to avoid them
  • stay positive and take it one step at a time
  • write down your reasons to remind yourself why you’re quitting.
man looking relaxed lstening to music

Stopping smoking can be as effective as anti-depressants

People with mental health conditions are likely to feel much calmer, more positive and have a better quality of life after giving up smoking.

Evidence suggests the beneficial effect of stopping smoking on symptoms of anxiety and depression can equal that of taking antidepressants.

If you take antipsychotic medicines or antidepressants, talk to your GP or psychiatrist before you stop smoking.

The dosage of these medicines may need to be monitored and the amount you need to take could be reduced. This is because smoking can reduce the levels of some medications in the blood, so you may need a lower dose when you quit.

Stop before your Op/Going to Hospital

Having Surgery?

If you are having surgery one of the most important things, you can do before the procedure is to stop smoking. This is because smokers are more likely to suffer complications during and following surgery than non-smokers.

What does anaesthesia do?

Anaesthesia reduces coughing and spasms during surgery but because smokers’ lungs are aggravated by tobacco, they need a higher dose of anaesthesia than non-smokers.

Also, tobacco smoke damages the cilia in the lungs which helps to clear mucus from the lungs. Smokers are more likely to suffer from post-operative pneumonia as a result.

Smoking post-surgery

  • you have a higher risk of lung and heart complications
  • you have higher risks of post-operative infection
  • you will have impaired wound healing
  • you will require longer hospital stays and higher drug doses
  • you are more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit
  • you will have an increased risk of emergency readmission.

You will have less oxygen to help with healing. Healing is helped by oxygen in the blood reaching the wound. But nicotine tightens blood vessels and reduces the amount of blood reaching the wound. Then the carbon monoxide in the smoke robs the blood of oxygen.  Nicotine damages red blood cells and makes platelets sticky.

Platelets are a type of blood cell needed for clotting. This can lead to lots of small blood clots in the site of the wound. This reduces the blood flow to the area and slows the healing process.

Quitting before surgery

– reduces the risk of postoperative complications.
– reduces lung, heart, and wound-related complications.
– decreases wound healing time.
– reduces the average length of stay in hospital
– Examples of surgical risks for smokers.

Back Surgery

Smokers’ bones are slower to grow and repair than non-smokers’ bones. When smokers need surgery to fuse the vertebrae in the back, they are 3 to 4 times more likely to have problems. The bones must build new bone cells. Non-smokers’ bones can grow 1cm every 2 months. Smokers can take on average 3 months to grow the same amount of bone.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery

Slowing down the healing of wounds is a big problem for this surgery, as it usually involves the transfer of flaps of skin from one part of the body to another. To survive, the skin needs a healthy blood supply and lots of oxygen and smokers have a reduced blood flow, the skin being transferred has a much lower chance of survival.

Smokers have about 12.5 times greater risk of plastic surgery not being successful.


The full cost of smoking to surgical care has not been estimated in this country. The Royal College of Physicians has estimated the costs associated with the higher incidence of wound infections among smokers who undergo surgery. However, they note that this underestimates the full costs due to the limitations of the data.

They estimate that smokers cost the NHS £2,506,669 as a result of increased levels of wound infection from 11,662 episodes of care. ASH has estimated the cost of smoking to the NHS as a whole as being £2.4bn with a further £1.2bn in social care costs to local government, and over a million people receiving care from unpaid carers because of smoking.

Due to the methodology, this is also likely to underestimate the costs of smoking to surgical outcomes.

Paan, bidi and shisha

Tobacco that you do not smoke is not a safe way to use tobacco. It causes cancer and can be as addictive as smoking.

Chewing tobacco

Betel quid, paan or gutkha is a mixture of ingredients that includes herbs, spices and often tobacco wrapped in a betel leaf. It is popular with many people from south Asian Communities.

All forms of tobacco are harmful and betel itself can raise the risk of cancer so chewing betel quid without tobacco is still harmful. More nicotine is absorbed by chewing tobacco than smoking a cigarette!
Chewing tobacco raises the risk of mouth cancer and oesophageal cancer (cancer of the food pipe).

Bidi and shisha

Most common in South Asian, Middle Eastern and North African communities. It is becoming more popular in the UK, especially in young people.

Smoking bidi – thin cigarettes of tobacco wrapped in brown tendu leaf or shisha – water pipe or hookah. Shisha pipes often mix fruit or sugar with tobacco, so some people do not realise that tobacco is used and do not see the risks involved in using pipes for social use.

But when you smoke shisha you and anyone sitting nearby are breathing in smoke the same way as a cigarette smoker. Air pollution in some shisha cafés and restaurants can go far above recommended safety limits.

Importantly people smoking shisha will often smoke for longer periods of time, and in one puff of shisha you inhale the same amount of smoke as you get from smoking a whole cigarette. There are studies that show that smoking shisha exposes you to even higher levels of carbon monoxide than regular cigarettes because it is burnt using charcoal.

Any smoking raises your risk of cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems and both bidi and waterpipe smoke contain significant levels of cancer-causing chemicals and toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide.

Snus, Snuff, or dipping tobacco

Snuff is finely ground tobacco that often has flavourings added to it. Moist snuff can go in the mouth between the cheek and gums, or behind the upper lip. Dry snuff is usually breathed in. There is growing evidence that snuff is linked to increased cancer risk.

Snus is a type of moist snuff that comes from Sweden. It is illegal to buy or sell snus in the UK. Snus contains lower levels of harmful chemicals. It is still unclear whether snus causes cancer.

Need help to stop smoking? Find support local to you

Feel Good Suffolk Advisors are there to offer support and advice on stopping smoking, healthy weight and being more active. They will tell you about the services available, tell you about what other options there are in your local area and community and guide you through on-line self-help.

They can also advise you on the eligibility criteria for more intensive levels of support around managing a healthy weight, stopping smoking and being more active.