acquiesce - October 12th, 2020

The Real Cost of Smoking

There’s no doubt that smoking is an expensive habit. In the March 2020 Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a pack of 20 cigarettes would rise by 27p, making the cheapest pack £9.10 and the most expensive pack £12.73. Hand-rolled 30g packs of tobacco have also risen by 67p, meaning the cheapest pack will cost £12.47 and the most expensive £15.60.

If an individual was to buy the most expensive cigarettes available, and smoke 20 a day, they would be spending approximately £4,646,45 a year on cigarettes. Which is no pocket change! Click here to find out how much you are spending with the NHS Smoking Cost Calculator.

According to data published by Action on Smoking and Health, the total spent on cigarettes by smokers in the UK is £12.6 billion every year. The tax burden accounts for 85% of the RRP, meaning just over £10.7 billion goes to the government. 

However, this isn’t the only cost smoking has, annually, the pressure that smoking puts on the NHS costs £2.5 billion and additional social care services costs £760 million. 

Smoking is also the largest cause of preventable deaths in England, and accounts for nearly almost 80,000 deaths every year. One in two smokers die from smoking-related diseases that impact their heart, stomach, skin, bones, brain, lungs, mouth, throat and reproductive organs.

Every 15 cigarettes smoked causes a mutation in the body. These mutations are how cancers start, and can be potentially life-threatening. The health effects of smoking are well publicised but it is extremely important to acknowledge these risks and consider quitting smoking. Whilst this isn’t necessarily easy, with the correct help and guidance, this can be achieved. Leaving you better off both financially and from a health aspect.

How Smoking Affects The Body

Heart

Smoking damages the heart and blood circulation, increasing the risk of having a heart attack, as well as doubling the risk of dying from coronary heart disease compared with non-smokers.

Other increased risks include:

  • Stroke
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Blood clots
  • Narrowing of the arteries.

If you quit:

  • After 1 year without smoking, the risk of a heart attack and coronary heart disease is reduced by half.
  • After 15 years without smoking, the risk is similar to that of someone who has never smoked.

Stomach

Smoking increases the risk of stomach cancer and ulcers as well as weakening the muscle that controls the lower end of the oesophagus, causing acid reflux. The risk of developing kidney cancer is also increased, and research shows that the more an individual smokes, the more likely they are to develop kidney cancer.

If you quit:

  • The less you smoke, the less likely you are to develop stomach or kidney cancer.

Skin

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the skin, which can age skin prematurely and lead to wrinkles as well as a yellow-grey gaunt complexion.

If you quit:

  • Quitting smoking prevents further deterioration of the skin caused by smoking.

Bones

Smoking can cause a person’s bones to become weak and brittle and eventually lead to osteoporosis, which can be extremely debilitating. Osteoporosis increases the likelihood of bone breaks & fractures due to their brittle nature, which is not pleasant for anyone. 

Brain

Smoking increases the risk of having a stroke by 50%, which can cause brain damage and death. They are often caused by brain aneurysms as a result of weakness in the blood vessel wall. The risk of dying from a stroke is doubled for smokers.

If you quit:

  • Within 2 years without smoking, the risk of a stroke is reduced by half. 
  • Within 5 years without smoking, the risk will be the same as a non-smoker.

Lungs

Smoking affects the lungs very badly. In the early days, coughs, colds and wheezing may begin. It is possible to then lead to fata; diseases including pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer.

84% of death from lung cancer are caused by smoking, and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive and debilitating disease, are caused by smoking.

If you quit:

  • The progression of COPD can be slowed down.

Mouth and Throat

Not only can smoking cause unappealing issues such as bad breath and discoloured teeth, it can cause gum disease, impair taste and oral thrush.

More severe effects of smoking are the higher risks of developing cancer in the lips, tongue, throat, voice box and oesophagus. Smoking causes over 93% of oropharyngeal (throat) cancers.

If you quit:

  • You can reduce the risk of developing mouth and throat cancers
  • After 20 years without smoking, the risk will be the same as a non-smoker.

Reproductive Organs

Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction due to the damage it does to the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis. Fertility in males can also be impacted by smoking as there is a risk of damage to the sperm as well as testicular cancer.

120,000 UK males between 20-40 suffer from erectile dysfunction caused by smoking.

Women are also at risk of reducing their fertility when they smoke. An NHS study found that women who smoked were 72% as fertile as non-smokers. 

Smoking can also increase the risk of cervical cancer, and those who are pregnant and smoking risk miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, illness and an increased risk of cot death by 25%.

If you quit:

  • Your body will begin to recover once you give up smoking.

The Price Your Loved Ones Pay

Smoking doesn’t just affect the individual, but those around them too, both physically and emotionally. Non-smokers can be negatively impacted by secondhand smoke from those who smoke around them. Secondhand smoke is the smoke that comes from a burning cigarette as well as the smoke the individual breathes out. 

This is dangerous to those who breathe it in, as it can cause serious health problems, even if they have never smoked themselves. These issues can include:

  • Lung cancer.
  • Increased chance of developing a heart disease, having a heart attack or early death.
  • Breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous for babies, children and pregnant women. Risks to these groups include:

  • Foetuses exposed to smoke from their mother whilst in the womb are more likely to be born with a low birth weight.
  • Babies that breathe in secondhand smoke may get more lung infections
  • Secondhand smoke can trigger severe and more frequent asthma attacks in children.
  • Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Not only does smoking have these physical effects on your loved ones, but it can also put an emotional strain on your relationships.

How Smoking Affects Personal Relationships

By smoking, you are putting your own health at risk, something which may be a large cause for concern for your partner. They may also be worried about how the secondhand smoke affects them and how it may make your home and clothes smell if you smoke around them or in the house.

Smoking may also negatively affect your sex life and your ability to conceive a child as smoking can cause erectile dysfunction and reduce fertility.

The amount you spend on cigarettes may also be a cause for concern if you are experiencing financial difficulties or if your partner feels your excessive spending on cigarettes is unjustified.

How Smoking Affects Your Children

According to a survey done by Nicorette, 98% of children wished their parents would stop smoking and nearly half claimed their parent’s smoking made them feel ill.

Other reasons for children wanting you to stop smoking include:

  • They have learnt about the dangers of smoking at school and worry about your health.
  • They don’t like the smell on their clothes.
  • You have less money to spend on doing things together.

How Smoking Affects Your Friends/Colleagues

It can be frustrating for friends when you are out and you keep disappearing to go and have a smoke. The smell of smoke may also be off putting to those around you.

Reports show that individuals who take smoking breaks at work spend up to five weeks away from their work in total every year. Not only could quitting make your work day more productive, but you would also ease any tensions with colleagues who feel you aren’t doing your fair share of work.

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