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Smoking linked to loss of up to 15 years of healthy life warns health charity

Figures show that smoking kills around 2,300 people in NI each year
Suzanne McGonagle

SMOKING is linked to the loss of up to 15 years of healthy life, a leading health charity has warned.

The Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) says that figures show smoking kills around 2,300 people each year. The charity says that with 17 per cent of the north's population being smokers, the risk to the public’s health is "very real".

It is using No Smoking Month in March to remind people of the risk and raise awareness of the support services available to help quit the habit.

Fidelma Carter from NICHS said the charity is alarmed that smoking is "robbing 10 to 15 years of healthy life" from people.

"We would encourage people to try and start their journey towards quitting smoking and better health this No Smoking Month," she said.

"The fact smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death will hopefully help persuade many people across Northern Ireland to kick this habit for good."

There are more than 5,000 chemicals in a cigarette, which increase a person's risk of chest, heart and stroke conditions as well as other illnesses.

Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked with statistics showing that every cigarette shortens the smoker's life by five minutes.

Ms Carter said the figures are "truly shocking".

"Quitting smoking can also have a huge impact on the health of your loved ones as they will be protected from inhaling harmful second-hand smoke," she said.

"Many smokers won’t realise that 85 per cent of the particles from second-hand smoke are invisible, odourless and can linger for up to five hours after your last cigarette.

"Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 toxic chemicals, putting others at risk.

"Many people are also experiencing financial pressures due to the current cost of living crisis and stopping smoking could go a long way in helping save money.

"For example, a smoker of 10 cigarettes a day could save up to £530 in the first 12 weeks of stopping smoking."

Ms Carter added: "It’s important to remember that it’s never too late to give up smoking and doing so is the biggest lifestyle change you can make to help reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill.

"The risk of serious disease starts reducing as soon as you stop smoking - breathing becomes easier and improves as lung function increases, and within one year of quitting a person’s risk of a heart attack is halved."

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