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Smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable premature death in the UK is smoking of tobacco or nicotine containing products. Tobacco use causes a wide variety of negative health outcomes, including organ damage, heart disease, respiratory disease, increased risk of cancer, stroke and premature death.

For a soldier, health and fitness are vitally important in order undertake arduous military training tasks in all climates. 

Smoking has a significant impact on cardio-respiratory fitness and muscular strength both of which will impact on an individual’s physical fitness levels. In the military smokers tend to be less physically fit and more likely to suffer from injuries and illness.

Smoking has many detrimental effects on health including increased risk of heart attack poor bone health, decreased fertility, increased risk of lung cancer, decline in physical appearance and reduced life expectancy. Also the health of people around you may be affected through passive smoking. It is never too late to stop smoking and quitting smoking will improve health and fitness.

Why should I quit?

Smoking prevalence is known to:

  • Cause 90% of all lung cancers.
  • Increased risk of bone fracture of the hip, spine and lower legs due to reduced blood supply and reduced bone mineral density.
  • Delayed fracture healing and increased risk of infection and poor wound-healing.
  • Increase the risk of musculoskeletal Injury, illness.
  • Delay tendon and soft tissue healing.
  • Increased the risk of back pain and degenerative disc disease.
  • Increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Increase the susceptible of and individual to heat illness and cold injury.

Quitting Smoking

The effects of quitting smoking can be seen almost immediately.  

  • Stop smoking gives you more energy - 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity easier
  • Stopping smoking lets you breathe more easily - improve your lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months. 
  • Ditch the cigarettes and feel less stressed - The withdrawal from nicotine between cigarettes can heighten feelings of stress. 
  • Quitting leads to better sex - Stopping smoking improves the body's blood flow so improves sensitivity. It's also been found that non-smokers are three times more appealing to prospective partners than smokers.
  • Stopping smoking improves fertility - Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men's sperm more potent. Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby. 
  • Stopping smoking improves smell and taste - You may notice that food tastes and smells different as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
  • Stop smoking for younger-looking skin
  • Ex-smokers have whiter teeth and sweeter breath 
  • Quit smoking to live longer - Men who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. 
  • Smoke-free homes protects your loved ones – Children who breathe in second hand smoke are twice as likely to getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia and asthma. 

You can read more on the importance of quitting smoking at www.nhs.uk/Livewell/smoking

Take steps NOW to stop smoking

Here are 3 practical, quick and simple steps you can take straight away to quit smoking:

  • Make an appointment with your GP or medical centre and request to speak to a Smoking Cessation Advisor. 
  • Consider using a nicotine-containing product to give yourself a better chance of success.  
  • Join a local stop smoking service. 

Find your nearest NHS Stop Smoking Service from the NHS Smokefree website, or call the Smokefree National Helpline to speak to a trained adviser on 0300 123 1044.