Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK.
It can have a negative impact on many different parts of the body, including circulation, the brain, the lungs and the heart.
But Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, says stopping smoking at the age of 30, 40 and even 50, can have a positive effect on your life expectancy.
He said: “Quitting smoking by the age of 30 has been shown that remarkably the life expectancy will be identical to people who have never smoked.
“Quitting at 40 has been shown to reduce risk of smoking-related death by 90 per cent, people who stopped smoking at 45 to 54 years old gained about six years of life, compared with those who continued smoking, while those who quit at 55 to 64 can look to gain about four years of life.”
While some of the damage of smoking is permanent, Dr Thornber says you can reverse some of the effects of smoking when you stop.
He said: “Smoking has a huge effect on your lungs, causing coughs, colds, wheezing and lung damage, but within 72 hours your lung capacity should improve and any mucus coughs should subside.
The appearance of your skin and teeth will improve. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your skin, making your skin look grey and dull and age faster than a none smoker. Stopping increases the circulation and gradually the skin tone will brighten.
Your fertility levels will improve, along with your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Your chance of having a stroke reduces by 50 per cent within two years of stopping smoking.”
Can having an “occasional” cigarette be just as damaging as full time smoking?
Nicotine is addictive, so one occasional cigarette can sometimes become more frequent and that’s when the real health problems can start, explains Dr Thornber.
He added: “Each cigarette you inhale, no matter how infrequently, is still causing damage to your skin, lungs and brain, but on a lesser scale than those who smoke more frequently.”
So how does Dr Thornber recommend to stop smoking?
He said: “There are lots of stop smoking support groups available to including NHS support groups and people have great success with them.
“There are a range of drugs available to help, but it would be worth a consultation with your GP to discuss if any of these are suitable.
“If you don’t succeed with one method, try another.”
Here are seven top tips to quit your cigarette habit for good.