Around 100,000 people die every year from smoking-related causes but still more than 10 million people in the UK continue to smoke. No Smoking Day is urging smokers to stub out their last cigarette for good on 11 March 2015.

Dr Alison Gardiner, who has been a GP for more than 20 years and practises at Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital, looks at the benefits of kicking the habit.

A longer life

50 per cent of all long term smokers will die prematurely from a disease related to smoking including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Not only does quitting smoking add years to your life it also increases your chances of living disease-free to a happy old age.

Increase energy levels

Circulation improves within a couple of weeks, boosting your energy levels which makes physical activity such as walking and running easier. The body experiences an increase in oxygen resulting in fewer headaches, while the immune systems also improves which makes it easier for the body to fight off colds and flu.

A whiter smile

The tobacco in cigarettes stains teeth a yellow colour. Ex-smokers’ have whiter teeth, fresher breath and are less likely to contract gum disease.

Let’s you breathe more easily

Within the first nine months of giving up, your lung capacity increases by up to 10 per cent, helping you to breathe more easily. As lung capacity decreases with age, mature ex-smokers’ will feel the benefit of not wheezing when walking.

Improve your sense of smell and taste

After being dulled by the toxic chemicals rife in cigarettes, an ex-smoker’s sense of smell and taste improves.

Fresher looking skin

Giving up smoking can replenish nutrients to the skin, slow down premature aging and reverse the sallow, wrinkled appearance that smokers can have.

Reduces stress levels

Addiction to nicotine causes stress to the body as it suffers from withdrawal when you are not smoking. As scientific studies show this helps to lower stress levels when smokers give up.

Become more fertile

Sperm becomes more potent and the lining of the womb improves, all factors which help ex-smokers’ find it easier to get pregnant. Giving up smoking also vastly increases your chances of having a healthy baby.

Nuffield Health Bournemouth’s consultant cardiologist Dr Suneel Talwar explains: “The chemicals found in cigarettes inhaled through smoking damage the function of your heart and your blood cells, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including angina, a heart attack or a stroke.

“Exposure to second hand tobacco smoke can also cause heart disease in non-smokers. The good news is you will feel the benefits very soon after quitting and the risk to your heart’s health decreases significantly straight away.”

To find out more about quitting smoking or to make an appointment with Dr Gardiner call the GP Surgery at Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital  on 01202 702808 or visit www.nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/bournemouth.