Health matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
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AS part of our ongoing series of health columns, Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire County, including Buxton and the High Peak, talks about the health benefits of quitting smoking.

March 14 marked the 29th year of the National No Smoking Day campaign supporting people who want to quit. The campaign has been hugely worthwhile over the years and has become a focal point in encouraging smokers to take action and improve their health.

Quitting smoking can almost immediately improve your health. Within 20 minutes of your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After 24 hours, carbon monoxide is out of your body and your lungs start to clear themselves. After three days, you have more energy and your breathing becomes easier. One year after giving up, your risk of suffering a heart attack is reduced by half.

Special ‘quit’ kits are being offered to smokers wanting to ‘take the leap’ and stub out the habit for good. Packed full of useful advice on how to quit, triggers that make you crave cigarettes, a cost calculator, an addiction test and ways to boost your willpower, the free kits, available from pharmacies, will help smokers struggling to become tobacco-free.

Most people want to be tobacco-free, but find it really tough. That’s why we’re encouraging smokers to take advantage of these free quit kits and ‘Take the Leap’ by thinking long and hard about why they smoke and what it would be like if they gave up.

Once they’ve thought through all the compelling reasons, either for or against, then they are in the best possible place to seek expert support and advice from the NHS.

Statistics show that smokers who seek expert help have a four times greater chance of success than those who do not.

Smoking is also a major cause of accidental death, injury and property damage, with 5,500 house fires attributed to smoking in the UK every year.

Help and support is available through pharmacies and GPs and local NHS stop smoking services on 0800 085 2299. For more information visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk.