Smokers underestimate health and financial impact of smoking

31 December 2011

SmokingA Campaign has been launched to help smokers quit this New Year

As millions of New Year’s resolutions are made today, new NHS Smokefree research reveals that many smokers are largely underestimating how damaging smoking is to their personal health and finances.

The research shows:

  • More than half (53%) of smokers underestimate the number of people who die annually from smoking related diseases by at least 70,000 (the actual figure is over 80,000 deaths a year in England as a result of smoking).
  • More than half (58%) of smokers underestimate how many long term smokers die early from smoking related disease (the actual figure is that 1 in 2 of all long-term smokers will die early from smoking related disease).
  • More than a third (35%) of smokers underestimate the number of cancer deaths caused by smoking (the actual figure is that smoking is estimated to be responsible for almost a third of all cancer deaths in the England.
  • And surprisingly, 8% of smokers still do not believe that smoking can seriously damage their health and lead to premature death.

Smokers also underestimate the financial costs of smoking3 – on average smokers estimate that smoking 20-a-day habit is costing them £1800 per year. With a packet of 20 cigarettes now costing on average £6.59, smokers are underestimating this by more than £600. In reality, a 20-a-day smoker could save £2,405 a year if they quit.

The research also suggested that many smokers are not stopping smoking because of misconceptions they have about quitting: over a third said that they feel too stressed to try to quit (33%), the same amount are not quitting because they don’t feel they have the willpower required (33%) or are not quitting because they tried before and failed (35%).

In reality, research shows that smoking causes more stress and anxiety than not smoking and that quitting can help to reduce stress. Evidence also shows that you can increase your chances of quitting successfully by using NHS support and that your willpower can be boosted with simple exercises available in the new and improved Quit Kit.

Help is at hand for the thousands of smokers who want to quit in the New Year. The Department of Health is launching an advertising campaign aimed at giving people the right tools to quit smoking by encouraging them to get a new and improved NHS Quit Kit from a participating pharmacy in England from 1 January.

To find your nearest stockist text SEARCH and your postcode to 88088 or search online at

The NHS Quit Kit has been developed by experts together with smokers and ex-smokers and contains practical tools and advice to help smokers quit smoking for good. Items include a health/wealth wheel which helps quitters calculate how much they are saving and the improvements they’ll see to their health; MP3 downloads which are scientifically proven to reduce cravings and a ‘tangle’ toy to help keep hands busy.

The Quit Kit also contains information on other free quitting help such as local Stop Smoking Services, plus smokers can sign up to get new motivational text messages straight to their mobile phone.


Anne Milton, Public Health Minister said:


“Quitting smoking is the very best thing you can do to improve your health this New Year. What’s clear is that the majority of smokers want to quit smoking and free NHS help is available to help them quit for good.


“The new and improved NHS Quit Kit is available in chemists who are working with us across England and will give smokers who want to give up advice, information and tools to help them enjoy a healthier 2012.”


Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) said:


“Christmas and New Year are key times for people to stop smoking. You can increase your chances of success considerably by getting the right support.


“Clear your house of all smoking materials; order a free Quit Kit to get helpful tools and advice and consider trying nicotine replacement products or another stop smoking medicine to help you cope with cravings.


“It is also very important to remind yourself why you are quitting: because there is never just one cigarette and because you’ll be much healthier and much wealthier as a result.”


To find your nearest Quit Kit pharmacy stockist text SEARCH and your postcode to 88088 or search online at

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