We found out if your body can go back to normal after you quit smoking
Your risk of lung cancer falls to half that of someone who’s still smoking if you quit
Love Island has been a little bit different this year, with there being a serious lack of smoking area gossip and arguments happening. This is because ITV banned the airtime of people smoking on this year's show, on the grounds it was setting a bad influence for younger audiences. And yeah sure, smoking is bad and all, especially if you're lounging round in the sun all day smoking a 20 pack. But if you do finally decide to give it all up, is it scientifically possible for your body to return from its tarred self?
Even if you're only a self-proclaimed "social smoker", you might find that instead of just pinching the odd fag off your mate in the smoking area, you're having a few from your own pack on every night out you go on. Although only one in five people in the UK are routine smokers, the number of social smokers is around 24 per cent according to a survey last year from Vapour.
We spoke to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and UKAT (UK Addiction Treatment) to investigate some common smoking myths, and whether you can chug 10 ciggies a day, quit, and get a healthy body back.
Can your body ever go back to normal after you quit smoking?
This is one of the most debated questions, but the simple answer here seems to be that, yes it can, but you shouldn't think that you're immune from health repercussions as soon as you quit. It obviously depends on how long you've been smoking and the frequency too, as to how much your body can go back to normal
It's estimated within 10-15 years after you quit, your risk of lung cancer falls to half that of someone who's still smoking, and your risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who's NEVER smoked, which is pretty great news tbh.
Andrew Knowles, Communications coordinator at ASH, said: "Though your body can absolutely ‘return to normal’ after quitting smoking this shouldn’t encourage anyone to postpone a quit-attempt to the future."
However, it's unlikely your body will ever completely reverse the effects, with some damage being too much strain. Andrew also told us: "Tobacco smoke can cause irreversible damage to the body’s DNA which can sometimes result in uncontrolled cellular growth, i.e. cancer.” So probs a good idea to quit while you're ahead.
How harmful is social smoking?
Even just a pack at a weekend can have a long term effect on your health – shock. Social smoking comes under a huge banner, and it's hard to put an actual figure on it. Claire Havey from UKAT told us: "Someone who is a social smoker smokes only in social situations and not because they are hooked on nicotine".
There is a clear difference in reason and habit of a social smoker than of a regular routine smoker. "Social smokers usually smoke in groups and more often than not when alcohol is involved", Claire said.
Social smoking is a bigger issue than you might think, with many not taking the risks seriously. Andrew said: "The evidence is clear that even low levels of cigarette smoking can be incredibly harmful. One long-term study concluded that people who smoke between one and four cigarettes a day have a significantly higher risk of dying early than non-smokers"
Why do I always want to smoke when I'm on a night out (and/or) drunk but not any other time?
Claire says: "Broadly speaking, when a person lights a cigarette they associate smoking that cigarette with whatever they're also doing at that time…whether that's drinking alcohol, or drinking their first cup of coffee in the morning. It's the association which makes the person believe that the two go hand in hand."
So basically, if you get used to smoking while you're in the smoking area of the club you go every Thursday, you'll probably get some kind of routine going.
"Each cigarette you smoke takes an hour off your life" is BS (sort of)
Something you might have heard, but this isn't true either. The actual figure is estimated to be around 11 minutes, which is easy to take for granted, but it can soon add up.
Andrew told us that with this research "if a man smokes the average number of cigarettes a year (5,772) from the median starting age of 17 until his death at the age of 71 he will consume a total of 311,688 cigarettes in his lifetime. Assuming each cigarette makes the same contribution to his death then each cigarette has cost him 11 minutes of life."
Is passive smoking as dangerous as actually smoking?
Even if you don't smoke, you probably have a friend or a housemate who does, and although landlords generally have a strict 'no smoking indoors' policy, students are clever (sort of) and like to bend the rules by smoking in their bedrooms and when there's a lot of people round.
Although you may not think it, it could be quite harmful for your health, as Andrew said: "Yes, according to an ASH research report on secondhand smoke: exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate health effects.
"It can reduce lung function; exacerbate respiratory problems; trigger asthma attacks; reduce coronary blood flow; irritate eyes; and cause headaches, coughs, sore throats, dizziness and nausea."