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Cigarettes are made up of tobacco which comes from the tobacco plant. The most addictive ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine which kicks in about 8 seconds after you've had a drag. Nicotine is hugely addictive and it's this that gets you really hooked on smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the body and curbs appetite. Addicted people say that sparking up a cigarette helps keep them calm and relieves stress.

Smoking and your health

We are all told that smoking is bad for you, but we never truly think it is going to affect us! The earlier you start and the longer you smoke has a huge impact on your health. It affects your health in many different ways:

Your skin:

Smoking speeds up the aging process and can leave you with wrinkles earlier than normal.

Your teeth:

Smoking stains your teeth and leaves you with bad breath. Smokers are also more at risk of gum disease and losing teeth prematurely.

Your lungs:

Your lung capacity will diminish which in later years can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age to wheezing when climbing the stairs.

The length of your life:

Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases. Quitting not only adds years to your life, but it also greatly improves the chance of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.

Your stress levels:

The withdrawal from nicotine leaves smokers feeling stressed with cigarettes only relieving that temporarily. Ex-smokers can also concentrate better and have increased mental wellbeing.

Your senses:

Giving up smoking gives you back your sense of smell and taste, making food taste so much better than before.

Your energy levels:

Smoking reduces circulation. Giving up can make physical activity like walking and running much easier. It also boosts the immune system, making it easier to fight off colds and flu.

Time to give up?

Giving up is not easy but it really is worth it. As well as the health benefits you will feel the difference in your energy levels and save money - the NHS Choices website allows you to track how much you've saved. Have a look at these self-help tips on the NHS website.

Need more help?

Have a look at these websites or call the freephone numbers to get more information and support:

Health Centre