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Smoking cessation: Have a quick word and save a life

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Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable mortality in the UK, accounting for approximately 100,000 premature deaths a year.1 About half of smokers die prematurely because of their smoking, and do so on average 20 years earlier than non-smokers.2 Those smokers who do not die early because of their smoking do not 'get away with it': the morbidity associated with smoking is considerable (Box 1). Significantly, smokers tend to experience diseases of old age 12 years earlier than non-smokers.3

Box 1. Non-life-threatening diseases linked to smoking
(ACSH 1997)
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Chronic back and neck pain
  • Cataracts
  • Cold injuries (tissue damage caused by exposure to cold) Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Diabetes (type 2, non-insulin dependent)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Gum disease
  • Macular degeneration (causing blindness)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Skin wrinkling

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