By Dr Wirin Bhatiani

Covid-19 has focused people’s attention on their health as never before, especially those with underlying conditions who the virus affects more severely.    

And if you smoke, giving up the habit is the single most important action you can take to improve your health.

While the evidence on smoking and coronavirus is mixed, smokers are generally more likely to suffer from respiratory conditions. Symptoms may also be more severe.

There’s never been a better time to stop, which is why we are promoting Public Health England’s annual Stoptober campaign to persuade smokers to ditch tobacco, initially for a month and then for the rest of their lives.

Evidence shows that if a smoker can quit for 28 days they are five times more likely to quit for good. But, as with any addiction, giving up smoking can be tough – and it’s even harder to do using willpower alone.

That’s where Stoptober comes in. Visit to find out about the support available – and find the combination that works for you with a free personal quit plan.

Download the Stoptober app for advice on how to beat nicotine cravings; on stopping smoking in pregnancy; how to protect your loved ones from second-hand smoke; and about chewing tobacco, bidi (a thin cigarette of tobacco wrapped in brown tendu leaf) and shisha.

If you give up smoking, you will feel the benefits immediately: after 48 hours your sense of taste and smell will improve and after 72 hours your breathing will feel easier.

The benefits continue over time. Compared to a smoker, your risk of a heart attack will halve after a year and your risk of death from lung cancer will halve after ten years.

Above all, you’ll feel better, and more able to defend yourself from threats to your health. Look at the website now.

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