Smokfree Health Harms

Public Health England has launched a new Smokefree Health Harms campaign to encourage the nation’s 7 million smokers to make a quit attempt this January. 

The new TV advert illustrates how poisons from tar in cigarettes enter the bloodstream, spreading around the body in seconds, causing damage to major organs, as data reveals one person in England is admitted to hospital every minute with a smoking related illness. 

To help explain the ongoing internal harm being caused, a group of seven lifelong smokers - including TV presenter and entrepreneur Hilary Devey – declare their intention to quit in January after seeing the results of a lab demonstration. The test results show how their smoking has led to elevated levels of cadmium (a metal used in batteries), cancer-causing nitrosamines and carbon monoxide in their blood. These toxic substances are amongst over 4,000 chemicals released into the body with each cigarette smoked, including more than 70 known cancer-causing compounds. 

Elevated levels of these substances were seen in the participants’ blood and can lead to an increased risk of major damage to the body. 

Exposure to cadmium for a long period of time is associated with an increased risk of damage to the kidneys and bones and may lead to lung cancer. Research has shown that if you regularly smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day, you are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer compared with a non-smoker.  

Tobacco Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) are potent chemical compounds, many of which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). They can cause DNA damage, cell death and are associated with cancers of the pancreas, mouth, respiratory and digestive tracts. 

Carbon monoxide decreases the ability of the blood to carry oxygen and consequently puts a strain on the heart. Carbon monoxide is also associated with an increased risk of blood clots and coronary heart disease.

In the new film that supports the TV advert, Dr Dawn Harper, GP from Gloucester, explains the results of the tests to the smokers and how the quality of their blood would start to improve when they quit – ridding them of harmful poisons which cause major damage to the body. Dr Dawn advises the smokers that there are many ways to quit, including free proven support from NHS Smokefree. People can choose what works best for them: face-to-face help, stop smoking aids, a quitting app, email, social media, and SMS support. 

Smokefree provides motivation, information and free support for smokers who want to stop. Just search ‘Smokefree’ for free support and advice to help you quit smoking.