Tobacco use is widespread in England. While there are different methods of tobacco consumption and various forms of tobacco products, cigarette smoking is the most common method of tobacco use across the country. Addiction rehabilitation providers warn that people who cannot stop their smoking often relapse or stray into a different dependence once they attempt to cease smoking.
This article will guide you through some easy first steps of quitting tobacco for good. We’ll examine the current trends and facts about smoking in England, the threats posed by this popular-yet-dangerous habit, and what you stand to gain by pursuing a smoke-free lifestyle.
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Smoking in England: An Overview of Tobacco Use Trends
Smoking has been a significant public health problem in England throughout the years. Findings show that the number of smokers in England stands at approximately 5.7 million, equating to 15.6% of the country’s general population.
According to a recently published Findings, only 2% of people with smoking addiction in England were referred to tobacco cessation treatment between 2020 and 2021. This was a drop from the 3% treatment referrals made in the previous year, that is, between 2019 and 2020.
These alarming findings are proof that most habitual smokers in England haven’t sought treatment and are, therefore, at risk of avoidable tobacco-related illnesses and premature deaths. Addiction Experts from Substance Rehabilitation UK remind us that smoking is addictive, and while it may seem like a normal occurrence, tobacco hides serious health risks.
Research further reveals the following:
- 77,600 mortalities in England each year from 2016 to 2018 were attributed to tobacco smoking.
- Compared to those in corporate professions, people involved in manual occupations in England are twice (and more) as likely to have habitual smoking tendencies.
- In England, tobacco use in men is higher than in women —15.9% of the smokers in the country are men, whereas 12.5% are women.
The notable gender differences in cigarette smoking could be linked to the social acceptability status of tobacco use in men and women. Societal attitudes tend to favour excessive smoking behaviours in men more than women, leading to the male population adopting regular tobacco use habits.
Another potential explanation may be the motivation behind tobacco consumption in men and women. In most cases, tobacco use in men is fuelled by a need to maintain nicotine levels in the body, hence the high prevalence of cigarette smoking among this population. In contrast, tobacco use among women is mainly driven by a need to respond to various non-nicotine urges — For instance, to reduce stress levels or control weight.
The higher prevalence of tobacco use reported among manual workers than office workers is attributed to the stressful working situations associated with manual jobs. Cigarette smoking is often the quickest way to find temporary relief from the stress and physically demanding work.
How Smoking Addiction Occurs
Addiction to cigarette use happens fast because of the absorptive properties of nicotine, the main addictive and naturally-occurring ingredient in cigarettes. When you smoke, nicotine is quickly absorbed in the bloodstream and, at the same time, travels directly to the brain. It only takes about ten seconds of inhaling tobacco smoke for the nicotine levels in the brain and blood to reach peak levels.
Once in the brain, nicotine quickly activates the reward system, creating feelings of euphoria. However, nicotine’s pleasurable effects last briefly compared to other mind-altering drugs. For this reason, you’ll resort to excessive smoking to repeatedly experience the “high” effects.
It doesn’t take long before nicotine completely takes over the brain’s reward system, leading to persistent nicotine cravings that trigger habitual smoking. Smoking addiction develops when the brain is repeatedly exposed to nicotine. What may start as light smoking can quickly escalate to severe tobacco dependence.
The Health Effects of Cigarette Use
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable chronic illnesses, poor health outcomes among non-smokers (due to regular exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke), and premature deaths (among both active smokers and non-smokers) in England. Cigarette smoking damages almost all body organs and is therefore linked to several serious health conditions, among them:
- Cardiovascular diseases – Smoke from cigarettes causes a buildup of plaques and the development of blood clots in the heart’s blood vessels. Aside from heart diseases, these occurrences can also result in stroke or heart attack.
- Cancers ﹘ Tobacco use is the primary cause of lung cancer and lung cancer-related deaths among smokers. Excessive smoking also leads to other cancers since tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals that spread throughout the body organs.
- Respiratory infections such as chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis (TB), and pneumonia
- Diabetes ﹘ Habitual cigarette use is known to cause type 2 diabetes
- Severe lung diseases ﹘ For instance, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In England, COPD claims roughly 25,000 lives each year, and 86% of these COPD deaths are attributed to tobacco smoking.
- Eye problems and eye disorders such as cataracts and dry eye disease
- Erectile dysfunction in chronic male smokers
Regular tobacco use also contributes to premature skin ageing, which eventually affects your overall physical appearance. In addition, second-hand smoke puts those around you at risk of respiratory complications, middle ear infections and hearing loss (especially in children), frequent asthma attacks, and even cancer.
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases an expectant mother’s risks of stillbirth, premature birth, abnormally low birth weight in the new-born baby, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Studies show that habitual smoking lowers a person’s expectancy by over ten years. In other words, smokers are likely to die ten years (or more) earlier than non-smokers. Quitting sooner than later can dramatically lower your risk of premature death, and you can live longer.
Taking into consideration the severe health impacts associated with tobacco use, giving up cigarettes and choosing to lead a tobacco-free life is a life-saving decision that will have profound long-term health benefits for you and those around you. You’ll reduce your risks of smoking-specific chronic conditions, improve your overall quality of life, and spare your loved ones from the avoidable health problems caused by second-hand tobacco smoke.
Smoking Is Worth Quitting
Tobacco use has life-threatening health outcomes. Quitting is the only sure way to protect yourself and those around you from these health consequences. Overcoming smoking addiction is achievable by participating in a smoking cessation treatment program to help you break free from tobacco dependence.