Woman lying in bed holding a tissue next to bottles of medication

Quitting smoking is part of looking after ourselves this winter

Looking after ourselves this winter is important. But alongside staying warm and a flu jab, quitting smoking is an vital part of staying fit and well.

If you or a loved one smokes, it can worsen existing health conditions and make respiratory infections like flu, COPD and Covid worse. Heart attacks are also more common during winter and smoking raises the risks.

When you stop, you give your lungs the chance to repair and you can breathe easier. If you are ill, awaiting hospital treatment or recovering, quitting smoking helps with recovery and make it less likely to have to visit hospital, or need to be re-admitted.

Dr Ruth Sharrock, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Clinical Lead for Treating Tobacco Dependency on behalf of North East and North Cumbria ICS/ IBC said: “Quitting smoking is an important part of looking after yourself and your family this winter. When you stop, you give your lungs and circulation the chance to repair and you will be able to breathe easier.

“The fact is that smoking not only causes cancer, heart disease, stroke and dementia but also makes seasonal illnesses and respiratory infections such as flu, COPD and Covid much worse.

“If you smoke or are caring for someone who smokes, quitting can make life and health so much better. There are many ways to quit, such as using medication, vapes or digital apps.”

The facts:

Winter can be difficult for people living with COPD (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other respiratory conditions. Stopping smoking is the most important thing to help with breathing

Smoking makes seasonal respiratory infections such as flu and Covid worse

Quitting smoking can improve your chances of recovery from illness and make it less likely to have to visit hospital as a patient

The benefits of stopping smoking can be noticed immediately:

  • The lungs and body start to repair from the moment you quit.
  • After 20 minutes your heart rate returns to normal and within
  • 48 hours your body clears out poisonous carbon monoxide.
  • Within weeks you’ll be breathing easier and able to do more, and with quit aids your cravings should start to disappear.

If you are coming into hospital as a patient, you will be offered support to stop smoking tobacco for the time you are in hospital. All patients will now be asked if they smoke and offered free Nicotine replacement products (NRT) on arrival to manage their cravings whilst in hospital

Stop smoking support is also available in local communities and at local pharmacies. Visit our Ways to Quit page