Quit Smoking for Better Mental Health?

Today is ‘No Smoking Day’ – No Smoking Day is an annual event aimed at encouraging people to quit smoking. The past year has highlighted the importance of looking after both our physical and mental health and while the physical health benefits of giving up smoking have long been established, there is now evidence that stopping smoking can have long-term benefits on your mental health too, so will you be thinking ‘today is the day’ to go smokefree?

You may be thinking that they stress and anxiety you’ve experienced during the pandemic will be a good reason to give yourself a break and skip trying to quit this year. But research suggests that while quitting can feel stressful in the short term, many ex-smokers report an improvement in their mental health six weeks after quitting.

A study published in the BMJ in 2014 found that stopping smoking is associated with improvements in mental health such as reduced depression and anxiety when compared to continuing smoking. An update of this research, due to be published very soon, with findings from over 160,000 people suggests that people who quit smoking are likely to have improved mental wellbeing, in particular reduced depression and anxiety and an improved mood and quality of life.

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said: “The last year has been difficult for many of us. Stress and concern about our health is on the rise. For smokers, this has pulled them in two directions. On the one hand, the chances of smokers successfully quitting are as high as they’ve ever been. On the other, smokers experiencing stress and mental distress are more likely to be smoking more.

“This No Smoking Day we want to take the opportunity to inform smokers that quitting can be less stressful than they fear and can ultimately improve their sense of wellbeing. We all of us have less control over our lives than we’d like at the moment, but smokers can take some positive control on No Smoking Day. We can support smokers to seize the moment and look forward to a happier smoke-free future.”

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