The impacts of smoking and the benefits of
People give different reasons for smoking. They might
say they smoke because they enjoy it, or because their
friends and family smoke, or they feel it helps them deal
with stress, or it’s just something they do to pass the
time. Regardless of why they say they smoke, many
people are prompted to make a quit attempt when they
think of the beneﬁ ts this will bring.
This information sheet describes the negative impacts
of smoking and the beneﬁ ts of quitting. Stopping
smoking is one of the best things a person can do to
improve their health, ﬁ nances and general wellbeing.
The impacts of smoking
Smoking not only affects a person’s health, it affects
their material wellbeing, their personal life and the
health of people around them.
Smokers have high rates of many diseases, including:
The health effects of smoking
Cancer, including lung, throat, pancreas, mouth,
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death,
and bladder cancer
illness and disability in Australia. It kills over 15,000
Stroke and heart disease (cardiovascular disease)
people each year, outweighing the total deaths from
many other causes.
Emphysema and other respiratory diseases
Impotence and infertility.
Tobacco-related deaths within Australia
One in two long term smokers are likely to die because
compared with other causes – 2003
of smoking. A quarter of these deaths will be before the
age of 65.
Infectious and parasitic di
Smoking can also contribute to mental health problems
such as depression and anxiety. People who give up
feel less stress and anxiety in the longer term. It also
makes you less ﬁ t, causes wheezing and coughing,
Ro d traffic acciden
gives you poor skin and bad teeth and makes your
d pendence (incl.
breath, hair and clothes smell.
The health effects of passive smoking
m ide an
Smoking not only affects the health of the smoker; it
also affects the health of those around them including
babies and children.
For babies and children, exposure to smoke increases
Smoking can have a devastating effect on your quality of
the chances of getting ear infections, asthma, bronchitis
life. Professor of public health, Simon Chapman recalls a 52
and increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
year old woman who told him:
(SIDS). It also increases the risk of learning and
“Give the ‘smoking kills’ line a rest. I’ve smoked
behavioural problems such as Attention-Deﬁ cit
for thirty years. I have emphysema. I am virtually
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which can disrupt
housebound. I get exhausted walking more than a few
schooling and life generally.
metres. I have urinary incontinence, and because I
can’t move quickly to the toilet, I wet myself and smell.
The ﬁ nancial costs of smoking
I can’t bear the embarrassment, so I stay isolated at
home. Smoking has ruined my life. You should start
Smoking can create a tremendous financial burden
telling people about the living hell smoking causes
for smokers and their families. Smoking a pack of
while you’re still alive, not just that it kills you.”
cigarettes a day costs about $70 a week or $3640 a
Social and personal impacts of smoking
year. Its not surprising research shows smoking
increases financial stress and reduces material
While for some, smoking can be a way to socialise and
connect with others, it deﬁ nitely has its drawbacks.
Spending on cigarettes means less money for
Social stigma and isolation - some smokers feel that
essentials like food, clothing and housing.
they are being looked down on. As smoking rates
decline, many people do not want to be exposed to
Smokers are twice as likely to report severe
other people’s smoke and are intolerant of smoking.
financial stress - going without meals or being
This social unacceptance is likely to increase as the
unable to heat the home.
number of smokers continues to drop.
Children in smoking households are twice as likely
Lack of freedom - having to worry about where you
to experience food insecurity (experiencing periods
can go and whether you can smoke. This will
during which they skip meals, are hungry; going for
intensify as smoking restrictions increase.
a day or longer without eating) than children in
non-smoking households and three times as likely
Feeling that you’re not in control of your life - having
to experience severe food insecurity.
to organise daily living around smoking. This might
include spending more money than you can afford
Smokers have more illness and disability which
on cigarettes; feeling unwell and unclean or not as
reduces employment opportunities and income.
ﬁ t as you would like to be.
These impacts are greater for disadvantaged
Because they tend to have higher smoking rates, the
smokers because they spend a larger proportion of
negative consequences of smoking have a greater
income on cigarettes than other smokers:
impact on already vulnerable groups such as those
42% of low income smokers reported spending
on very low incomes, the homeless and people with
money on cigarettes rather than on essentials
severe mental illness.
The benefits of quitting
The poorest smoking households in NSW spend
nearly 20% of their income on tobacco.
The good news is that there are great beneﬁ ts from quitting
smoking, with both immediate and long term gains.
Giving up smoking reduces financial stress and
improves standards of living. Those who quit report
Financial beneﬁ ts
less financial hardship and greater wellbeing
Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve
compared to continuing smokers.
your ﬁ nances. The money you save can be used for
lots of things - life essentials (food, housing, clothing)
Health beneﬁ ts:
or other items for you or your family.
The health beneﬁ ts of quitting start immediately and last
Imagine what you could do with the money you used
to spend on smoking:
Beneﬁ cial health changes that
How you could spend it
Within 20 minutes
Your body begins a series of
changes that continue for years.
Go to the movies
Your heart rate drops.
Take the kids to the local
The nicotine level in your blood is
reduced by half.
Buy some new shoes
The carbon monoxide level in
Get some DVD’s
your blood drops to normal and
Have a weekend away
the oxygen level increases.
Pay off some bills
Nicotine by-products are removed
Buy a new TV or games
from your blood.
Taste buds revive, and your ability
New clothes for the kids
to taste and smell improves
Have a family holiday
Your heart attack risk begins to
Bond for a new place
drop. Circulation improves.
Buy a computer
Exercise is easier. Lung function
Get a second hand car
Buy new furniture
Within 3 months
Coughing, sinus congestion and
Personal beneﬁ ts:
shortness of breath decrease.
Your added risk of coronary heart
You will have improved ﬁ tness (greater energy
disease is reduced by half
levels and be less out of breath)
compared to a smoker.
You will look better (smell fresher, have healthier
Your risk of cancer of the mouth,
skin and whiter teeth)
throat and oesophagus is halved
You will feel better (have less coughs and colds
and your risk of stroke is
and feel more in control of things).
Your risk of lung cancer falls to
Social beneﬁ ts:
about half that of a smoker and
You will feel less isolated - quitting means you
your risk of cancers of the mouth,
can go anywhere, not just where you can smoke
throat, oesophagus, bladder,
kidney and pancreas also
You will be more productive - you don’t have to keep
stopping what you are doing to have a smoke
Your risk of coronary heart
You will be able to mix with all sorts of people -
disease and risk of death fall to
you don’t have to restrict yourself to talking to
about the same as someone who
other smokers and its healthier for everyone to be
has never smoked.
around you (including children).
How to go about quitting
This information sheet was developed by Cancer
Council NSW as part of the Tackling Tobacco Program.
Giving up smoking is one of the best things a person can do
to improve their health, ﬁ nances and personal wellbeing.
For a copy of the references used or for more
While quitting can be hard, the results are more than worth
information about Tackling Tobacco go to:
it. The beneﬁ ts start right away and last a lifetime.
Methods for quitting vary from person to person. Most
or call the Cancer Council on (02) 9334 1900
people who do manage to quit do it suddenly. This
method is often referred to as going ‘cold turkey’. Others
may need the help of medications such as nicotine
replacement therapy (NRT) or the prescription drugs
Bupropion (Zyban) or Varenicline (Champix).
Sometimes smokers feel that the cost of NRT is too
high, so they keep smoking. But as the graph below
shows, for the usual recommended course of therapy,
the cost of NRT is generally cheaper than cigarettes.
16 week cost comparison of medication and NRT
compared to moderate smoking
$60/$10 (Health Care Card holder)
$120/$20 (Health Care Card holder)
Pack cigarettes per day**
* Bupropion course lasts for 8 weeks
** 1 pack of 20 cigarettes per day
Once you quit smoking for good you will no longer need
to pay for NRT or medication - but if you continue,
cigarettes are a cost for life.
Recent research has found that people who quit
smoking often make many attempts before they ﬁ nally
succeed. So if you do slip up during your quit attempt -
don’t worry too much. Just try again!
For conﬁ dential quit smoking advice, and support for
smokers and their families and friends call the Quitline
on 13 7848.