Lung cancer charity encourages smokers to use Stoptober platform to quit for good and reduce immediate and long-term health risks but raises concerns about available support.
The links between smoking and lung cancer are well known. Smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer, responsible for more than 32,000 cases every year. However, Covid has made the risks of smoking more obvious and instantaneous.
People who smoke generally have an increased risk of contracting Covid-19 and of more severe symptoms if they do catch it. This has prompted over one million people to quit smoking since the start of the pandemic.
Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. She is encouraged by these numbers:
“It is fantastic to see over a million people have successfully stopped smoking since the start of the pandemic, and we hope many more will use Stoptober as the starting point of their quit.
We know those who make it to 28 days smoke-free are five times more likely to quit for good.
“We are all well aware of the dangers of smoking, including its links to lung cancer. However, for many those risks aren’t that tangible, seen as something that may happen in the future and therefore not necessarily the instant driver to quit. What Covid has done is made that threat to our health immediate.”
However, cuts to specialist smoking cessation services in recent years spark concerns that those who want to quit are not able to access the support they need.
“Let’s not forget cigarettes are designed to be as addictive as possible,” Paula continues. “So, stopping smoking is hard, especially in times of anxiety and uncertainty.”
In recent years, we seen repeated cuts to smoking cessation, with some local authorities having no specific budget for stop smoking services. If the Government is committed to its ‘Smokefree by 2030’ target, we need to make sure there is adequate level of support.
“We have been helping people quit smoking throughout our 30-year history. Our quit support forum has thousands of members. If you’re trying to quit, you can sign up and get help, tips and advice from people who know what it’s like.”
Leigh Webber had smoked for 40 years. She is one of the thousands of people who used Quit Support to successfully stop.
“I tried to quit before two or three times before like most of us smokers do. I tried patches and hypnosis. I read the Allen Carr book. I even went on one of those smoking seminars, but when I did all these things, I was only looking at the physical side, of not putting the cigarette in my mouth. I then realised I needed to look into a lot more things about the mental and emotional side.
I joined the Quit Support forum and started chatting to people on there who were the same time to their quit as me, so they understood. That felt really good, that you were in it together.”
When a person stops smoking, the health benefits are immediate; within just 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse rate will return to normal. Your hands and feet will start to feel warmer as the circulation improves.
Within two days all the carbon monoxide is flushed out and your senses of taste and smell are improving (this is particularly important at the moment). After three days, breathing will feel easier and your energy will increase.
When you’re three months into your quit, your lung function will increase and improve any coughs, wheezing or breathing problems you may have and, with every year that goes by, your risk of lung cancer drops. After ten years, your risk of dying from lung cancer will have halved compared with someone who is still smoking.
“Now more than ever, we need to look after our lungs and make respiratory health a priority,” Paula concludes. “The best way to do that is to quit smoking.”
Join Quit Support today and be one of the thousands of people who have quit for good.