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Smokefree Clinic

The health effects of smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of illness, disability, and premature death in Australia.

An Australian Burden of Disease Study found 9.3 per cent of the disease burden in Australia was due to tobacco use. It was the leading risk factor.

Tobacco use is causally linked to 39 different diseases, including:

  • 19 types of cancer
  • 7 forms of cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and
  • Asthma

Its impact on the body is widespread. Smoking affects your eyes, brain, mouth, nose and throat, your lungs and respiratory system, your cardiovascular system, internal organs, and even fertility.

When other people are exposed to your smoking, it can lead to poorer health outcomes for them. This exposure can be especially harmful to children and babies.

The good news is you can quit, and there are many methods and resources available to help you.

The benefits of quitting

When you quit, your body starts to repair itself and you start to reduce your risk of smoking-related diseases.

Within a day your blood pressure and heart rate will start to slow and oxygen can move around your body more easily.

A year on and your lungs will be healthier and work more effectively to move oxygen around your body. This means it will be easier to breathe.

Within five years, you will have cut your smoking-related heart disease, stroke and cancer risks significantly.

You will also save money, likely feel less stressed, and importantly, reduce smoking risks to those around you.

The effects of quitting over time

Preparing to quit

It helps to have a plan in place to guide your journey through quitting smoking.

Set a date, plan your strategy with your healthcare professional, and discuss it with people around you. All these outside influences can assist to stay on your quit journey when it becomes challenging.

Do you know what you will do instead of smoking? Consider the ways you use smoking tobacco as a ritual. Could you substitute another activity, go for a walk, or practise deep breathing?

Make sure your surroundings will help you to quit. Throw out your cigarettes the night before you intend to quit. Make sure your car, your workplace and your home are free from smoking-related items.


Know your smoking triggers

Smoking triggers are events or situations that make you want to smoke.

Many people find it challenging in the first few weeks of quitting because they are triggered by feelings of withdrawal and cravings.

Others may find themselves drawn to smoking if they are out socialising, drinking alcohol, with other smokers, or feeling stressed.

This is very common. It can help you to make alternative plans for these scenarios. This could range from muscle relaxation techniques to a personal reward system.


Common barriers to quitting

You might have tried to quit before. That’s okay, many people trying to quit have tried before. You can still quit.

Common barriers to quitting include a fear of failure or uncertainty around the outcome. Some people worry about putting on weight. Others think about the social pressure from their smoking friends or family.

You can overcome these. There is help available from healthcare professionals as well as different treatments to make your transition to a former smoker all the easier.